October 29, 1944

The press proclaimed in bold lines: “American Bombing in Leyte Ceases”.

“In the face of a terrific Japanese attack, the American fleet had abandoned the landing troops which are facing complete annihilation. American forces in the Pacific have been completely destroyed and Manila is going to be spared attacks for a long time.”

I was reading these lines this morning when, without previous warning, American planes came within visible altitude, dropping their bombs on their targets on Manila Bay. The people who are getting to be more hopeful are comparing what the Japanese are claiming and what is actually happening. Obviously, what was annihilated was the Japanese fleet, and the Imperial Air Force has been left without wings.

Today is Sunday, and the UST Chapel was full of devotees. The sermon started just when the bomb explosions were loudest, the pounding of anti-aircraft shots was most resounding and the gloomy staccato of machine guns was most frightening. Many of the faithful were feeling uneasy, glancing towards the door with one foot forward. The preacher, calmly and cooly, exhorted the people to stay in their seats as they were safe within that sacred place. The Mass—a High Mass—went on and the choir continued singing to the accompaniment of the Celestial concert outside.


            Later, everybody ridiculed the Tribune editorial which promised peace and a sky free from attacks. It was a known fact that when the newspapers predicted a pleasant time, based on Japanese victories, the American planes—which were supposed to have fled or been destroyed—came attacking with greater intensity.

Expecting us to bite hook, line and sinker, the Tokyo propaganda announced naval victories of unprecedented magnitude. According to the Daihon-ei, from October 12, that is, the battle of Taiwan, to this date, the Americans had lost 49 aircraft carriers, 15 battleships, 26 cruisers, 7 destroyers, 29 unidentified ships, 78 transports, 19 landing crafts—a total of 235. Reportedly, more ships are being sunk, more planes being shot down and Americans being killed. For all the arms, munitions and machinery that the Americans could manufacture, the Japanese propaganda is manufacturing more in bluffs—the kind which nothing could excel in self-contradiction and incredible absurdity. It would be interesting to confront these allegations of the Daihon-ei to the facts of history, this advocate of eternity which usually, if not always, avenges itself against the official propagandists of today who do not look beyond the present fleeting moment.

In view of the fact that the air strategy employed by the Japanese in the first days of the war seems to have fallen into disuse, the propaganda office of Tokyo has launched a laudatory campaign for the Kamikaze contingent, the suicide group of airmen who dive with their planes on the target.

A few days ago, the officer who is occupying Letran paid me an unexpected and unexplained visit. In his broken English he told me, “Now we have very hard fight. But we cannot lose. Now no more harakiri. We smash the enemy.” He was the same officer who, sometime earlier, had told me in fatalistic tones, “I know that I shall die with Manila.”

It’s hard to tell whether the Japanese have changed strategy or they are prepared to kill and be killed, for which reason the soldiers are being assigned the task of spreading this information, in the hope of infusing fear and terror among the enemies.

The press and the radio are driving us crazy with the big talk about the suicide squad. Either they are trying to duplicate the German V-1 or V-2, or to explain the destruction they wrought on the American fleet in the Pacific, since their own fleet has failed to show up after the battle of Leyte and Eastern Luzon, in spite of their claims of resounding victory. So many things need to be explained.

August 19, 1944

Requiem masses are being celebrated in different churches in Manila in memory of the late President Quezon whose birthday we commemorate today. The masses are well-attended, in spite of the fact that invitations had been secretly made, for fear of the Japanese mascots who might consider the ceremonies hostile. In the past, only the President and his family attended the mass at Letran, after which he would join us at breakfast. Today neither the President nor the chapel was around. The new Letran building would probably not exist for long, as the new occupants are converting the building into an anti-aircraft fortress and if the zealous Americans learn about it, they will certainly destroy it, and kill women and children as they did in Tokyo.

October 27, 1943

Our guests were leaving the College, going French style. They took with them all that was theirs and all that was ours. Among the latter were chairs, beds, tables, cabinets, the refrigerator, bulbs, lamp shades, all amounting to thousands of pesos, specially now that they were irreplaceable. We were disillusioned by the belief that independence would extend to us the pleasure of having our whole building back. But other soldiers were coming in with beds on their shoulders and installing themselves in the divested building. They were sure to be groping in the dark tonight, as their predecessors took all the bulbs with them. It seemed that it was common practice among these soldiers to leave nothing behind whenever they transferred quarters. One of them, whom we approached in complaint and protest, justified such conduct saying that when General Kuroda had to leave the palace of the American High Commissioner which was converted into the Japanese Embassy, all the furniture was taken out, and Mr. Murata had to stay at the Manila Hotel until the Embassy had been refurbished.

June 2, 1942

The public elementary schools which had been closed since the start of the war were opened yesterday. In the whole of Manila, only twenty schools have been allowed to open—a very small portion of what existed before. Intramuros used to have two elementary schools. Neither one was permitted to open. Only one section is authorized for each grade.

No private school has been authorized to resume classes so far. The four Catholic colleges for boys are occupied by the Army. Out of the twenty colleges for girls, two (Santa Rosa and Santa Catalina) were totally destroyed, and four are occupied by prisoners of Japanese soldiers. At Letran, with a portion of the building occupied by soldiers, we have lost all hope of opening the school. However, we still believe we will be able to rehabilitate six rooms for six grades in that part of the building which was assigned to us. We therefore sought permission to open the elementary school, which after all is the only level they have allowed to start classes.

Evidently, the new administration does not appreciate secondary and university education. They have announced their educational program as such: compulsory primary education for all; a limited enrolment for the secondary level, encouraging vocational education; university education only along the line of Medicine, Engineering, Agriculture and with only a selected number of young students to be admitted.

It is inescapably clear that the Filipino youth have been contaminated with the mania of pursuing a course. The capital has been drawing thousands of provincial folks who, with empty pockets and empty heads, have migrated to Manila full of illusions. All their ambitions are set on getting employed and have a little income to pursue a college course. Thousands of them who—for their aptitude for manual work and their ineptitude for mental endeavors—should be earning their bread through the sweat of their brows, have abandoned their fields, and having donned a clean shirt and necktie, can no longer be made to return to the plow. To sustain their children in college, their parents had to sell their lands, mortgage their houses or find other means from usurers.

Consequently, city life has become polluted by a swarm of parasites: doctors without patients, lawyers without clients, teachers without schools, pharmacists without drugstores, and a host of unemployed applicants, though there are also employment opportunities without applicants.

The rush for employment in the city is a plague that is causing so much dysfunction. After finishing a career through economic difficulties or mental inadequacies, they find that there is no one in the city to take them in. Neither do they find attraction in the provinces, and they end up meddling in politics or in labor unions, malpracticing their professions.

In Manila, lawyers graduate by the thousands annually. Many of them, for lack of clientele, join the police force or work as taxi rivers, hotel boys, or land just about any kind of job.

Now, these new educators come and with a single stroke of the pen they have cut short all these deficiencies by phasing out almost all courses. We are beginning to fear that the drastic remedy is worse than the ailment.

May 28, 1942

We were worn out by the day’s work of transferring our things to the portion of the building allocated to us by our “tenants.” Everytime, they would commandeer more rooms and confiscate beds, tables, chairs, and cabinets. I attempted to protest, but the Japanese officer told me: “The Japanese Army occupy the Philippines. Property of Filipinos, Spanish, Americans, no difference. We owners of building. You live here out of place.” And he said it in a tone that left no room for an answer. As I did not want to receive a slap, I did not attempt to make a reply.

Now they use our kitchen, our stove, refrigerator, and most of the furniture, promising to give us a small refrigerator and an electric stove, with an assurance that we are not going to pay for gas and water.

We keep ourselves apart from them, and we put up a gate for our exclusive use.

The first eighty soldiers came in this afternoon. They seem to have a more dignified bearing and are apparently more educated than the ordinary soldiers we have always seen. They belong to the air force, although they are not pilots, as we learned from one of them.

He asked us what happened to our building and when we told him that it was bombed by the Japanese, he was surprised, as they had instructions not to bomb schools and churches. We told him that it must have been a mistake, and since the answer would reflect on the air corps’ efficiency, he would not accept it.

May 26, 1942

Just as we had feared, a member of the Religious Section notified the Letran Fathers that their buildings would be occupied by the Army, although the members of religious congregations would be allowed to continue living in the part they are now occupying. Father Provincial, accompanied by the Spanish Consul, immediately proceeded to protest to the military authorities, but they were instructed to file their protest in writing. In the meantime, American prisoners were sent to clear up the places they had inspected.

A Japanese official came earlier this morning and made a round of the whole building. He summoned me and intimated that within a few days, a hundred soldiers will be coming to set up their barracks here. I told him that it was Spanish property and was religious in nature. He replied that we could protest, but that he would be back within two days to allocate which place would be theirs and which would be ours.

We were all left with a heavy heart. For the last four months we have been clearing the place of the rubble which they themselves had made. We have been putting the finishing touches in the hope that we could open classes in June as promised by the authorities. Now that we have finished repairing the burned roof and the doors, these gentlemen are coming to enjoy the fruits of our labor.

Japanese soldiers and “soldierettes” abound in Manila. In Intramuros, particularly around the Palma Hotel, Japanese girls are roaming around in the wooden shoes and kimonos. It is rumored that after June 1st Filipino men will not be allowed to enter into marriage with Filipino women. Filipinos will have to marry Japanese girls. A fee of five hundred pesos would be charged to those who marry a Filipino girl.

May 25, 1942

With a lot of flourish, the newspapers announced the reopening of schools on the 1st of June. The University of Santo Tomas had to revise its curriculum. Repairs and renovations are being made on the old buildings, in case the prisoners will not vacate the new ones, which it seems they will not.

We also sought permission to open classes at Letran. Aside from noble reasons, we want the school to function lest the military occupy the buildings. In fact, they have been looking around, examining them for such purposes.

While I was in the refreshing heights of Baguio, the temperature in Manila was scorching, having reached 39.6, a record in fifty years. It’s fortunately subsiding these days, with the clouds shielding the earth from the heat of the sun.

I saw thousands of American soldiers being transported to the old Bilibid prisons. According to the Press, they had been landed at the piers. It was however strange that they were coming from Taft Avenue. People along the sidewalks threw cigarettes and fruits at the Americans, to the indignance of the Japanese soldiers who filled the streets with their convoys of artillery guns.

March 15, 1942

Today we finished listing down the losses we suffered during the bombings and fires of December 27 and 28. The engineer, A. Guevara, had prepared a detailed report on the value of the destroyed buildings. Based on the cost of materials and labor, the total losses were:

Church and Convent of Santo Domingo ₱1,270,750.00
Letran College 327,215.00
Santa Catalina College 503,300.00
Procurator’s Offices 32,000.00
Residential buildings of Letran at Muralla and Anda Streets 16,800.00
University of Santo Tomas 4,496.00
Residential buildings of Santo Tomas at Muralla Street 13,500.00
Lost furniture and equipment:
Church and Convent of Santo Domingo ₱872,753.00
University of Santo Tomas 5,260.00
Letran College 84,000.00

The loss of articles of art and objects of historical value will never be recovered. The library and many other things of incalculable value will never be replaced.

February 28, 1942

I left a gap in my diary. I stopped writing for a while, partly because of fear, partly because of lack of interest. I was afraid these notes would fall into the hands of the police who have been searching houses and persons. Besides, I also had my doubts on the point of the whole thing. But soon, I found myself writing again.

One of the police searches was made at the convent and church of San Sebastian. A group of more than thirty Japanese, some in uniform and others in civilian clothes, came at 2:30 P.M. The eight Recollect Fathers and those from Letran were ordered to come down. The sister at the College in front were taken to the visitors’ room while the people who were found inside the church were herded towards the main doors of the convent. All the people in the neighborhood were ordered tb close their windows and prohibited from looking out.

The Japanese divided themselves into groups, each accompanied by a priest, and they started a thorough search of the convent and the church. For three and a half hours, they looked into every room, and probed every nook and corner, as if looking for a needle or some treasure. They ransacked tables, suitcases, cabinets and papers. Even the Tabernacle was not spared. The priests were harassed by their questions and threats.

What they were looking for, they did not say. We were however suspecting that some malicious individual must have reported that the priests were hiding a radio transmitter. We later gathered from the investigations they made in the different houses in neighborhood that the Japanese got the idea that the church steeples are being used as transmitter antennas through which messages are being sent to the army.

Yesterday and the day before, we witnessed strange and mysterious events. From 8:40 to 11:30 A.M. the day before, and from 4:00 to 6:00 P.M. yesterday, the Japanese police stopped all traffic along Rizal Avenue and Taft Avenue, that is, from north to south of the City. They kept all vehicles and pedestrians away from these two main arteries within about half a kilometer, apparently so that nobody would see what would pass through these streets. We watched from the roof of Letran where we should be able to spot whatever it was that we could expect to find out—perhaps a convoy of soldiers or armaments, but nobody and nothing appeared.

The day before, after waiting for two hours, we saw nothing but a truck with soldiers standing, and half a dozen cars with Japanese flags. As the they passed, the Japanese traffic soldiers who were also at a distance turned their backs, requiring the Filipino policemen to do the same. The practice of turning one’s back is an act of respect in Japan. Yesterday, all I saw was a group of unarmed soldiers, and nobody turned his back.

The people were curious about the significance of these events which nobody saw, and there were fantastic theories about them. The general belief—confirmed by rumors past four days—is that the Japanese general who was in command of the attack in Bataan, had committed harakiri for having failed in his mission, and this was the funeral cortege. There is no official version. Meanwhile, the press is silent about the whole thing.

Personally, I believe that some imperial prince arrived. Some years ago, while I was in Formosa, Prince Chichibu, the brother of the Emperor, arrived, and I witnessed similar circumstances.