October 31, 1944

It’s three in the afternoon. Vic’s listening to the radio. Papa is reading Willoughby’s Maneuvers in War; Neneng is cooking; Lolo sleeping and Dolly is looking at the planes from the window. There are many planes flying but they’re Japs. You can tell by the metallic desynchronized roar of the engines. There’s one plane flying very low. It passed directly on top of the house. There was a time –just after Bataan when I would dive on the floor when I hear a plane. I must’ve been bomb-shocked but I didn’t realize it.

Received a letter from a friend in Baguio. She wrote it a week ago. There are no more mail deliveries. If you want to send a letter, you’ve got to look for some fellow who’s going up or down from Baguio who’ll be kind enough to play postman for you.

Went downtown this morning. I was soaked wet by the damned rain. It’s been raining since yesterday afternoon. There seems to be a weak typhoon somewhere. Saw carromatas being commandeered by Japs in Avenida Taft. Heard too that Tio Charlie’s car was taken by Jap soldiers somewhere in Tarlac. He was evacuating to Baguio because the Japs took his house. Saw Feling Avellana who was trying to sell his wife’s ring. “I need it for food”, he explained. Life’s getting tougher these days.

The Tribune says the Americans are shelling Lamon Bay. That’s about 60 miles from Manila in a straight line. Why don’t they hurry up because this waiting and waiting is killing me? Somebody told me the suspense is like waiting for the bride to appear in Church. Saw Emilio on my way home. He was looking at the map.

I can hear the sound of blasting somewhere in the direction of McKinley. I’ m afraid the Japs are planting mines.

Heard the G8s have been tipped to expect landings on either the 3rd or 4th.

Listened to broadcasts from Leyte to America by the different newspapermen there. Liked Cliff Roberts’ “personal report”. Time had a good story on the naval battle off Leyte Bay. Courtney had a good report on the rehabilitation work in Leyte.

P.S.

Heard that Romulo gave a nationwide instruction to the Filipino people. It was short, dramatic: WORK OR FIGHT!

There are no more planes flying. The sky is also beginning to brighten up. No more rain. I hope the typhoon blows far out of here and then maybe they can commence landings in Luzon.


October 18, 1944

I don’t know what history books will write about this day. Maybe they’ll put it down as the beginning of the offensive for the reconquest of the Philippines. Or probably they’ll note it as just the 7th day of the naval attack on Taiwan with diversionary raids on the Philippines. To me it’s the day I had a narrow escape. A machine gun bullet struck our shelter, fortunately on the concrete side. If it had hit an inch higher, it would have penetrated the thin wooden panel and I wouldn’t be writing this now.

I don’t know how many U.S. planes raided Manila today. They looked plenty and I didn’t have time to count because AA shrapnel started raining around our garden. By the drone and by the glimpse I had, I judged there were at least a hundred.

October 18 to this tramp means nothing but several hours in the air-raid shelter, Mama nervous about Vic who refused to take cover, Neneng praying the rosary, grandpop smoking a cigar, Dad going in and out of the shelter to take a look and then to hurriedly run in when the earth begins to shake, and the dog trying to squeeze into the shelter.

Tio Charlie finally got a pass to go to Baguio. They’re all packed but they can’t get alcohol for the jitney. The Hoodoboo promised to give them but so far the promise has not been fulfilled, as most Jap promises.

It’s been raining the whole day. It’s a wonder the U.S, planes were able to fly over. Pop says the seas are very rough on days like this. The laborers who were piling Mr. Paer’s galvanized iron under the house were very happy when they saw the planes. They were scared when the shrapnel started to rain but there’s no Filipino who isn’t willing to put up with a little suffering, a little hardship in order to see the Rising Sun torn down from the flagpole.

Grandpop thinks the raids won’t stop anymore until the day of liberation. I think so too. Mama thinks “it’ll be later yet”. Mening thinks or rather hopes the Americans will pulverize Japan so we can just be freed by agreement –the easy way out. Others think these are just diversionary raids. Main objective of the fleet at present is Taiwan. Others don’t think anything. What do you think?


October 17, 1944

Still no bombs, I’m sore. We were having breakfast when the “air-raid” alarm sounded. You can’t hear it very well out here in Santa Mesa but the servants in the kitchen said the sentries have placed the red flag and that means there’s an air-raid. I opened the radio to verify and it was blacked off.

Outside the house, the Japanese soldiers were hiding behind the trees and bushes. It’s funny looking at those guys react. The Filipinos are taking it very calmly, in fact, joyously. And they’re so nervous and jittery. Our Swiss neighbor said that some ten or twenty Japs entered his garden and hid in the bushes with their gas-masks on.

There were many planes flying –about 80 of them– but they were all Japanese fighters. Some were flying very low and others could be hardly distinguished above the clouds. Then it started to rain and at about noon time, “All-Clear” was sounded.

Several people were getting disappointed. They are asking: Maybe there is some truth in the Japanese claims of 12 aircraft carriers sunk? Is that why they can’t bomb anymore? Others are angry. They say: “The Americans shouldn’t have bombed at all if they were going to stop like this. It only gave the Japs a chance to spread their dumps into private houses. They should have kept it up, bombed on and on”. Only consoling note is the fact that Formosa is being bombed and rebombed. People say that this is a prelude to the invasion of the Philippines. “They’re neutralizing whatever help Formosa can give to the Japanese here when invasion comes” according to Joe.

Tio Charlie is still here. He can’t go to Baguio because of the air-raid alarms. I wonder if Baguio is a safe place. A lot of people are going there. I think it’s a bottle-neck, a rathole. If something happens to the zigzag, you’re imprisoned there. Oh well…


September 23, 1944

Manila’s agog. Everybody’s talking and whispering and laughing and dreaming about the raid. Everybody feels the Americans will be here before Christmas. Somebody opined “around New Year” and he was branded a low-down defeatist. A thousand pseudo-generals have sprung with theories on how easily the Americans will retake Luzon.

Despite the very tense situation, Manoling’s wedding went on. Very few guests were able to attend the wedding, according to Vic. The Casino Español was unable to serve the breakfast because the servants didn’t show up. Vic Fernandez had to improvise on the organ because the organist was not able to go to church. The bride arrived late and the priest didn’t say Mass anymore. When my brother congratulated Manoling, the lovesick Romeo closed his eyes and sighed: “Ah, I made it!”.

Biked downtown with Joe Meily to see people. Most of the stores were closed. There were many people carrying bundles, perhaps evacuating. Saw many sailors lying on the grass under the trees in the Sunken Gardens. The poor fellows looked haggard and shell-shocked. A cochero said those sailors swam to shore.

Visited Ateta. She was beautiful, as usual. She was dressed in blue and I’ve got to admit my heart skipped a couple of beats. She’s not the type of girl that makes you feel like whistling when you see her. Her beauty inspires respect, the kind of adoration you’d give to an angel.

Sentries wouldn’t let me pass through Ayala Bridge. Joe had a permit but the insolent sentry wouldn’t even look at the pass. He just shouted “Kora!” and pointed his bayonet at us.

Still no water. The servants took three cans of water from a nearby well and I took a bath with that. The telephone has been dead the whole day. So far nothing has happened to the electric service.

Several AA shrapnel fell near Tio Phil’s house, killing a horse and a cat. One servant of Tio Charlie was wounded in the arm by AA shell-bursts and Tantoco’s milk-boy was killed by a stray bullet.

Provincial reports reveal that more than 120 Japanese planes were destroyed in Clark Field, Pampanga. About 80, were downed in dogfights. Our Japanese neighbor boasts that four U.S. aircraft carriers have been sunk off the eastern coast of Tayabas.

Two air-raid alarms this morning but no bombing. Saw four U.S. observation planes flying very high. There were still fires in the direction of the Bay area but I couldn’t ascertain what was burning. A Japanese soldier said it was oil.

Two Japanese soldiers went to the house today. They asked for water because they were thirsty. Supplies from the Piers are being transferred in residential districts. One of the soldiers said that he came from New Guinea; the other from Singapore. I asked “How many soldiers are going to defend Luzon.” One of them said “More than a million.”

President Laurel declared war on the U.S. and Britain. Somebody said “What’s the difference?” Everybody knows, that Laurel is just a puppet, making a strong effort to show that he isn’t.

Papa has been busy the whole day asking the Japanese authorities to give us a few days to transfer our furniture. They agreed very reluctantly. They need private houses very badly because they are afraid to live in barracks. They’re hiding under the skirts, so to speak, of the civilian population.

Will try to tune in on KGEI. Am very anxious to know what America has to say about the raids on Manila. The Americans in the concentration camp in Santo Tomas must be excited these days. I’m sure they saw the planes and felt the ground shaking. Must stop writing. Somebody is ringing the doorbell.


March 10, 1942

Ferrer released. Was badly manhandled.

Mateo Borja and Isias Pacheco arrived this morning after surveying the Bicol region. Reported: a good harvest in Camarines Sur, around 2,000,000 cavans of palay. Price: ₱2.00—₱2.20. In Albay, the NARIC branch was looted. ₱400 was stolen from the safe. But a balance of ₱8,000 remains in the Legaspi branch of the Philippine National Bank.

Charlie Hollman arrived from Calumpit. Said several girls were abused. Part of his clothes were looted. Some soldiers took a fancy to his shirts. One officer took his car (and) gave him a receipt in Japanese scrawl.

Java has fallen after nine days of fighting. Bataan still holds. I am proud of our boys.

Vargas cannot help Pagu. Expressed his regrets. Nobody may interfere with the Military Police. The Japanese themselves are afraid.

On my way home, saw them looking out of their windows, as they were. Noticed men gazing and giggling. The women passing by refused to look. There was a pretty one.

Distance and carelessness lend enchantment to the view.