February 18, 1945

The evenings are a nightmare. They bring a rosary of shocks produced by powerful guns which, from New Manila and Grace Park, strike at Ermita and Intramuros, shaking the air, the earth, the doors and the nerves. Projectiles fly over our heads, whistling their funereal song of destruction. We cannot look at them: we can only follow their trajectory with our ears. Mortars from the Far Eastern University and the Osmeña Park batter the eardrums with metallic poundings. Machine guns, crackling like coffee grinders –Tac, Tac, Tac, Tac, Tac! rattle in, from behind, at the sides, in search of Japanese snipers. The fires from the Japanese side which reach our vicinity add to the confusion. A mortar hit the tower of the main building where the Americans had set up an observation post, and from which General MacArthur observed enemy lines this morning. Others fell on the Education building and on the intern’s garden. However, there were no casualties.

But more shattering than the dissonant harmony of war engines is the news about the tragedies suffered by survivors who escaped from the southern part of the city. The accounts are so terrifying and so macabre that my spirit was filled with infinite bitterness, and I wept with tears of pain and indignation. From the sadness and sympathy arose an impotent anger against the infernal forces which vented its desperation and hate among the civilian populace. So many families of acquaintances and friends exterminated. So many mutilated. So many who escaped the Japanese hell lost everything but their lives. The hospitals –the few old ones which still remain, and a number of improvised ones– are filled with the wounded, whose hands or feet or body are perforated with bullets or shrapnels. Many are searching desperately for their lost loved ones. Manila is a picture of sadness impossible to describe.

The Japanese plan of attack against the defenseless Manilans is as diabolic as it is organized. Its defense strategy consists in positioning themselves behind the civilian residents, and as the conquerors advance within a dangerous distance, they flee or burn the buildings and retreat a few blocks backwards. They machinegun the residents who attempt to put out the fire or run for their lives. The only way to save themselves is to jump into a ditch and stay there. Anyone who raises his head is fired at. They stay for four to eight days without eating or drinking, tortured by a rabid thirst. I was told of cases where persons, dying of thirst, drank human blood mixed with mud.

In many cases, the soldiers would approach the ditches and kill the occupants with bayonets. That was how they killed the De La Salle Brothers –Irish and Germans–, the Padres Paules of San Marcelino among whom were Fr. Visitator Tejada and Fr. José Fernández, and Irish Fathers of Malate, together with the evacuees in their buildings. The same fate fell on fifty others, almost all of whom were Spanish, who took shelter in the Spanish consulate. Aside from being attacked with bayonets, they were also attacked with hand grenades. Only a little girl escaped alive.

Another way of liquidating the people is by herding them into a house and setting fire to it, at the same time hurling hand grenades inside. Anyone who attempts to escape is shot.

There were frequent cases where soldiers threw hand grenades into the ditches or air raid shelters, and those who attempted to escape were hunted like animals. In order to economize on bullets, the assassins usually would tie entire families to post or pillars and kill them with bayonets. It was not rare that a hundred or more persons were lined up and machinegunned.

In the shelter at the German Club, some four hundred persons of different nationalities were attacked and massacred by drunken soldiers. Only about half a dozen escaped. The young Enrique Miranda, son of Telesforo Miranda Sampedro, told me that his mother and five brothers were taken by the Japanese. He did not know what happened to them. We learned later that their bodies were found mangled –those of his two brothers, in the street. Enrique said that he was made to kneel down and they hit him on his neck. He lost consciousness. He came to his senses when a soldier was prickling him with the point of his bayonet to find out if he was already dead. He tried to bear the pain and feigned death. The soldier covered him with earth. He was able to bore a hole through which he breathed. Later, he squeezed himself out and, bleeding all over, he hid among the stones until he was found by the Americans.

In Singalong, the Japanese marines gathered the men to send them on forced labor. The men were made to line up and were herded on groups of ten into houses where their heads were cut off. As those who were in the streets could not hear anything, they entered the houses confidently, believing they were only to register their names. A son of Mr. Ynchausti, among others, escaped, but was badly wounded.

It was providential that in almost all cases, someone among the victims was able to escape and was able to relate the fate of his companions.

The Japanese installed machineguns on the towers of the Paco and Singalong churches, not to counterattack the approaching Americans but to mow down the residents –men, women and children– who might attempt to flee. The Remedios Hospital and the San Andres agricultural school, where thousands of escapees had taken shelter, were shelled with mortars and even Japanese anti- aircraft guns. Many, however, were also killed by American bombs.

Very few persons escaped unscathed from the southern xone. There were countless wounded and it was almost impossible to attend to them all in spite of the fact that the doctors and nurses, both Americans and Filipinos, worked beyond their limits. The suicidal and homicidal plan of the Japanese, according to superior orders, was to exterminate the whole population and annihilate themselves. Survivors attributed their survival to a miracle and to a special favor of Providence. Many promises and vows were made and each escapee had his heartrending tragedy to tell.

The savagery displayed by the Imperial Army is as brutal as it was unexpected or, better still, it is doubly brutal for being unexpected. There were fears, and it was expected, that the Japanese would not hand over the city on a silver platter, but we could not believe that their ferocity would reach such a point of diabolic savagery.

The phantom of hunger not only hovers over the people. It holds the people captive in their claws. There is nothing to buy in stores and marketplaces. And where there are goods, there is no money with which to buy them. The occupation money has been reduced to what it is –scratch paper. The new Victory bills which the U.S. Army brought along, are still hardly in circulation. Those fortunate ones who live in the liberated zone have exhausted the supplies of rice and mongo. Parents and friends of escapees from the Japanese hell who were given refuge by those in the north are creating problems of food supply.

The American Red Cross, the PCAU and the soldiers themselves try to assist the hungry people, but there are so many of them and here is just not enough supply for all. I met a number of friends whom I hardly remembered, especially those who escaped from the claws of the Japanese and who had been reduced to skin and bones. There were also those who had been wounded or mutilated. The liberating troops, as they advance step by step, house by house, perform the dual function of combatants and Samaritan, gathering the survivors, assisting them with their own rations and transporting them to the rearguard. The wounded are transported by the Red Cross, the officers of the chaplains to improvised hospitals at the north of the Pasig. The able bodied travel in the way they could, searching for the members of their families who were separated in fleeing from Japanese fire and vandalism. Hungry and thirsty, they roam the streets as souls in agony, broken and ragged, pale and sweating under the heat of the sun, looking for people they know, and recounting their own horrors and those of others.


Sunday, February 4, 1945

After Mass we went to market again. The girls dropped by from home and told us that Emy said that there was news from the Quemas that the Americans arrived last night in Caloocan and were coming towards Rizal Ave. That’s why we heard the machinegunning. It was so hard to believe! The majority of the people heard the good news and rushed to the market. The market was almost empty. There were just hard kernels of yellow corn, a few coconuts and kangkong and talinum.

Papa bought a big pushcart for ₱5,000,000 and a smaller one for ₱3,000,000. Mama bought meat for ₱1,500.00 a kilo.

The Japs look desperate. They were very, very strict with the people. People were slapped more often without knowing why.


January 9, 1945

Mush, coco-milk, and coffee, so called for breakfast. Forty seven of our B-24’s came over this morning. They done their bombing and as far as we know, none of them was hit. So glad. Earlier in the morning our dive bombers were operating over near Caloocan. I believe the R.R. shops. Another bunch did some bombing way out in San Francisco del Monte.

Still later fifteen of our planes came in from the direction of the Bay. They flew very low over Grace Park and San Francisco del Monte barely missing the tree tops. When they reached Marikina Valley they gave them the works. The Jap anti-aircraft batteries cut loose but to no avail. They were caught napping with another Yankee trick.

Just before that a big Jap plane came in flying very low over San Francisco del Monte trying to keep out of sight. Three of our planes that were high on the air over Quezon City spotted him and gave chase. They were going on him when they passed over the Marikina Valley. The Jap guns opened fire but our planes went through unscathed. The last I could see they were chasing him over the Antipolo mountains and were right on his tail. He was a lost ball.

We had thin soup for lunch. Maybe none tomorrow. There were no vegetables, soy bean cake or anything else came into camp today.

The Jap commandant broadcast that he has our welfare at heart but it is impossible to find food in Manila. Still they took rice out of camp for their own use yesterday. Oh well.

There has been a lot of explosions in the city this p.m. Sounds as if the Japs are wrecking things.

We had a ladle of rice and another of soup for supper. About one third enough.


December 23, 1944

10:15 a.m. eighteen B-24’s with several P-38’s came over and bombed Grace Park and kept on going toward Mariveles. The most beautiful and inspiring sight of my life. Felt like crying. Several women did cry. Later they came back and sprinkled (that’s the word) Grace Park with small bombs. One large fire (oil) and several small ones. Four P-38’s straffed a place far out in Quezon City, probably a troop concentration. At 10:00 p.m. more bombings probably one or two planes. Passed waterfront and Nichols field 3 times –dropped some bombs. Shell bursts from anti-aircraft guns was beautiful to behold. Last raid about 11:00 p.m.


October 15, 1944

Hooray, there were here again… this morning. They came at about 10 o’clock, after Mass. Of course, you know who I mean by “they”.

Japanese planes went up this time. People said there were many dogfights around Caloocan. Several civilians were killed.

I saw a heartbreaking sight. An American aviator bailed out. First, he looked like a toy dangling on a white umbrella. Then his figure became more distinct and people started shouting “Parachute, parachute!”. When he was just above the housetops, Japanese soldiers started firing at him. I even heard the rat-a-tat of machine guns. Made my blood boil, this slaughtering of a fellow that’s defenceless. Can’t conceive how the Japanese can interpret such an act as bravery.

No more raids this afternoon. The radio is announcing this results. All-clear has been sounded. A Japanese major –our neighbor– visited us this afternoon and there was a smile on his face. “We drove them off,” he boasted and “12 aircraft carriers were sunk”. I wonder if that’s true. Maybe there is something to it because not so many bombs were dropped and they didn’t come back anymore. I’m sure there was not much damage this time, as compared to the first raid. First of all, the Japanese were not caught by surprise. Secondly, they had enough time to spread their supplies and to even intercept. I didn’t feel the ground shaking like last time. And unlike the first raid, I actually saw many Japanese planes scouring the skies. I’ll listen to KGEI tomorrow to see what America has to say about this raid. Personally, I have a feeling they didn’t do so well. I hope I’m wrong.

Several of the boys that came to the house to play basketball believe this is the prelude to invasion. “The raids won’t stop anymore,” they say. One fellow said this was Halsey’s fleet on its way back to its base after the Formosa raid. Oh well, let’s wait and see….


August 22-September 21, 1944

The partial blackout started on Aug. 22. There was an occasional practice air-raid alarm and one or two actual air-raid alarms during August and the early part of Sept.

From about Sept. 16 the Japanese were having anti-aircraft gun practice every morning and sometimes at night with dozens of searchlights. The blackout continued in effect.

On the morning of Sept. 21, the anti-aircraft were shooting at a towed target while a number of Japanese planes were circling and diving over the City and Harbor.

At about 9:20 a.m. a swarm of American planes appeared on the scene and blasted the plane and target from the air.

Suddenly the sky was full of American planes (est. 150-300). The bombing had gone 8 or 10 minutes before the air raid alarm sounded. We could see our planes dive through a curtain of anti-aircraft shells and release their bombs over their objectives. Two planes in particular made spectacular dives over Grace Park. After these planes had started two fires at that place they dived and strafed the field. The rattle of their machine guns could be plainly heard at Sto. Tomas.

Those two planes left and two more appeared and dived right into the smoke from the fires and when they pulled up another fire broke out.

The roar of exploding bombs and sharper rattle of anti-aircraft and machine guns was deafening.

Falling shell fragments and machine gun bullets were falling all over the compound. Two anti-aircraft shells exploded in the grounds.

The all-clear sounded at 11:30 a.m.

At about 2:45 p.m. more American planes came over. The air-raid signal did not sound until the bombing had been going on for some time.

We watched three planes bomb Camp Murphy. Several small fires started, probably trucks, as there was a motorpool in that neighborhood.

One of our planes was seen to explode over the waterfront. He had just gone into a dive and evidently a shell hit him and exploded the bombs as he went out in a flash.

Many fires were started in the bay, along the waterfront, Nichols Field and Neilson airport during the two raids. All clear went about 5:05 p.m.

One fire (evidently an ammunition dump or ship) burned until about 8:00 p.m. There were a number of small explosions and finally, with a flash that lit up the skies for miles around accompanied by a terrific explosion it went to kingdom come.

The City was blacked out all night but everything was quiet.


February 15-29, 1944

The worries, distress and school problems, aggravated by lack of food, have drained my strength, and I had to go to Laguna to recover some vigor from the fresh breeze and nourishment offered by this province. These towns northeast of Makiling are the most peaceful in the archipelago. The guerrillas had already taken refuge in the mountains several months ago, or had returned to their homes, reconciled but not appeased, waiting for further developments. The more zealous groups have settled in the mountains at the opposite coast of Makiling, from where they descend and prey upon the lowland towns, though infrequently, ambushing trucks and destroying army trains.

The bandits of Cavite are the only ones showing signs of happenings all throughout the country. They steal domestic animals, crops, farm equipment, rails and rail ties, electric wires, laundry clothes and even the clothes on persons’ backs.

The Commander of the Constabulary of Calamba called up the El Real Plantation where I was vacationing asking for a truck to transport a contingent to the nearby town of Santa Rosa where the bandits were attacking an outpost. When the driver returned, he was pale and frightened, recounting the fierce battle he witnessed. We did not know what happened and what the casualties were.

I have noted two things in the south. First, that laborers do not want to work in the fields or in factories. They say that their wages would not suffice even if it were doubled, what with rice costing ₱12.00 a ganta and sugar about that much per kilo. Unless they are given these commodities, they will not work.

The Army was expecting this year’s sugar cane yield to be high, but the harvest did not reach even a tenth of the past year’s harvests. After a serious dissappoinment in the failure of the cotton experiment, the military authorities launched a feverish campaign in favor of sugar cane as they are fast running short of alcohol for fuel. The Sugar Association which was commissioned by the military to produce and distribute sugar announced that it would pay ₱16.00 a picul of actual harvests, and that the planters could buy their sugar equivalent to 10% of their production from the Association at ₱35.00 a picul at the black market. How would you expect them to be interested in the Association’s offer?

Another noteworthy development is the intensity of preparations for defense which the Japanese are making around Manila. From Muntinlupa to Caloocan are being constructed a chain of airfields and a small Maginot line from north to south through the towns surrounding the city. It is evident that they are taking the invasion threat very seriously.


Nov. 1st 1899

We were taken ashore early this A.M. Each man carried rolls, arms, 100 rounds of ammunition and (supposedly) two days rations. In Manilla we were loaded into little 31- man cars and started North. We ate dinner at Caloocan, passed through Malolos [?]an San Fernando and got to Angeles just before sundown. We went into camp in dogtents. The 17th is camped about 1/4 of a mile away but the boys are on outpost today and wont come in till 7 tomorrow morning. This town is on the advanced line with “Soogro” outposts within half a mile.