November 12, 1944

Typhoon is over, the sun is up again and the sky has brightened to a clear blue. The bird that perches on the tree near my window is there again, fluttering its wings and in a while I’m sure it’ll begin to twitter.

No planes this morning. Everybody was expecting them today because they’ve visited us every Sunday morning for the last three weeks. We woke up early this morning because we thought the planes were sure to come. There were many people in Church and everybody hurried home because “they’ll come around breakfast time”.

Instead of the planes came bad news. Ramon Araneta who was brought to Fort Santiago two nights ago died in one of the dungeons. The Japs called up his daughter and said that she could take her father’s corpse. Mrs. Araneta does not know that her husband has died. All Manila knows about this “sudden” death. Everybody thinks that Ramon was tortured. The Japs went up to his house at midnight, searched every nook and corner, every drawer, behind portraits and tapped the panels and floors, questioned his wife, daughters and servants. They they told Ramon to dress up and they took him with them. I was in their house yesterday and three Japs investigated one of Ramon’s maids and they brought her to Fort Santiago also.

This death has shocked Manilans and if the Japs think this will intimidate the people, they are very mistaken. The reaction has been the contrary. More young men want to go to hills. Vengeance is in every heart. His burial will probably look like a demonstration as Ramon is very well known. His death is the fourth in a row. First, Teddy Fernando; then Almazan; recently Preysler, whose wrists and ribs were smashed; and now –Ramon Araneta. Conversation now-a-days is nothing but of Jap atrocities. The greatest propaganda agency for America is not the Voice of Freedom or KGEI or Free Philippines but Fort Santiago.

General impression downtown is that the Leyte invasion has bogged down because of the typhoon and mud and arrival of Jap reinforcements. Some think Luzon liberation will begin only after Leyte has been completely liberated. Others insist that Mac will “pocket” Japs in Ormoc and then “hop” on to Manila.

Meanwhile, Japs are getting stricter, more brutal and desperate. Filipinos have to submit to the indignity of being searched by Jap sentries in almost every street corner. Fort Santiago has arrested many Bataan and Corregidor veterans. They are alarmed at reports of enthusiastic collaboration of Filipino populace in Leyte and Samar and great activities of guerrilla units. It is not an uncommon sight to see dead bodies thrown in public highways. Four days ago, a naked corpse with ten bayonet stabs was sprawled in the small plaza between the Legislative Building and City Hall.

Food situation is getting more acute. Yesterday, a man entered the house and he was thin, haggard, skeletal, with a wound on his feet. He asked for “a little rice or soup or anything”. More such walking-corpses can be seen all over Manila as Jap trucks speed through streets loaded with sacks of rice and vegetables.

Many Jap soldiers in Manila now, probably getting ready to move to battle areas. Some reinforcements to Leyte are being sent to Sorsogon where they go on small launches to Ormoc or Carigara. Very few Jap trucks in City. Soldiers walk. Army men now wear their battle uniforms, steel helmets and camouflage-nets. They stop cars, rigs, bicycles. They confiscate all forms of transportation. The Jap Army is desperate. It has its back against the wall. But before they go hungry, the civilian population will have to suffer first. Hope lies in Mac. Come on America!


November 6, 1944

More bombings yesterday at 12, 2 and 4. Then early this morning at 4 and at 8:30 the Pier area was strafed and bombed. There were many ships there because several Jap divisions arrived. They probably came from Singapore.

Just received a phone call from Ning. He says that a bomb hit Paco Bridge. It was probably accidental. So far practically all bombs have been directed at military installations. In fact, most of the casualties have been caused by the shrapnel from Jap AA guns. One shell burst right in Julito’s room destroying his wardrobe and the walls of his house. His Jap neighbor ran to his hous to find out what happened. The Jap said “indiscriminate bombing by the Anglo-Saxons”. Then Julito picked up one of the fragments and it had a Jap inscription.

Right now we are still under ‘alert’. That means I can’t go out of the house this morning because the Jap sentries stop everybody on the way. They ask for passes or permits and I haven’t any.

There were several fellows here yesterday and the conversation was all about the bombing, of course. Julito thinks they will land in Luzon before Elections. James claims that Atimonan is already being shelled. Mama expects landings somewhere in Batangas. If Mama is right, we may see Romulo and Osmeña and Valdes and good old Mac before the 15th. Batangas is just about fifty miles from Manila.

Deputy Military Governor Figueras was here last night. He said he was called by President Laurel because the President had issued a confidential order “conscripting all able-bodied men from 15 to 50 for labor purposes”. Personally, I believe that labor conscription is worse than military conscription. Under military conscription, you at least get armed and then if you feel like turning around, you can do something about it. With labor conscription, you become human fodder. Imagine having to work in airfields, shipyards and military establishments. Figueras said Laurel told him “Fix this order up to make it look voluntary. The Japs demand Filipino labor for their roads, airfields and military installations.” Figueras said he will try to fix it up to permit substitution. This is a bad arrangement, in my opinion, because only the rich will be able to ‘buy’ substitutes. Figueras said he told Laurel that all young men will go up to the hills if this is publicized. It must be enforced quietly through the neighborhood associations.

Paier, our Swiss neighbor was crying yesterday. He received word that his best friend Carlos Preysler died in Fort Santiago (he must have been tortured to death). Teddy Fernando, a friend of mine from the Ateneo, was arrested a few months ago and his wife recently received word that she may get his corpse from Santiago. After this war, there will probably be many Jean Valjean stories about Santiago.

I’m still very depressed about the news of Eking Albert’s capture. He was actively engaged in guerrilla warfare especially after his daring escape from Muntinglupa Prisons where he was a military prisoner. Raul, who is also in the hills, wrote me a sad account of Eking’s capture. That means that 3 of my close friends are gone. Paquing who disappeared in Cabiao; Johnnie Ladaw who died in Bataan and now… Eking. Of course, there is a chance that Paquing is still alive. Who knows, he may still be in some underground unit?

I’m going to take my breakfast now. I wonder what it is. I haven’t eaten eggs for months now. It costs ₱10. When will I taste bread again and ham and… oh well. Probably it will be a little rice and dried fish because the cook was not able to go to market yesterday. And I don’t think he’ll be able to go today also. It’s good we still have a little supply of canned goods, which we bought four years ago. Heard Dunn of CBS kicking about corned beef the other night in a broadcast to America, imagine!

There goes the siren again….