November 2, 1944

Must hurry writing this stuff because Joe’s waiting for me outside. Nothing much today. None of the usual processions to the cemetery to visit the dead. Tribune says that Laurel will give a speech on the heroes that died in O’Donnell.

On my way to Dad’s office, I saw many Jap trucks filled with supplies. They’re spreading their dumps to minimize destruction from bombing. They’re very afraid of raids. You ought to see how they scramble to their dugouts when they hear the siren. The Filipinos laugh at them and they get sore when our countrymen stay out in the streets and watch the U.S. bombers drop their cargoes.

There are sentries in many street corners again. They’re afraid of guerrillas. The City is full of these patriots and nobody can tell when they’re going to attack the Japs. This keeps the Jap on nerve’s edge and he’s very nasty these days.

The Japs are commandeering horses. First, they took cars, now it’s horses and bicycles too, according to Sal Neri. Damaso said that he saw gasoline tins being moved into our former house. Oh by the way, they paid us a couple of worthless Jap bills for rent. I felt like laughing. I don’t know why.

Many Jap soldiers walking in the streets. They haven’t got trucks. Transportation is a big problem for them. They try to bum rides from anybody.

Saw Formosan soldiers –you can tell when they’re Formosans because they’re very thin and underfed– building foxholes and dugouts. I wonder if they’re going to put up a stiff fight in the city.

Three main questions in the minds of people these days

First: When will they land in Luzon?

Second: Will there be heavy fighting in Manila?

Third: Will the Japs bring the Puppet President and his cabinet to Japan?

There is a fourth question any everybody more or less knows the answer but ask it anyway: What will the Americans do to the collaborationists like Aquino and Laurel?

P.S.

Dad have a good one during dinner time today. “Did you ever notice the names of our three Presidents?” he asked. “Yes, why?” I asked. Mrs. Quezon’s name is Aurora meaning Dawn; Mrs. Osmeña’s is Esperanza, which means Hope; and Puppet Laurel’s wife is Paciencia, which means Patience. We had our morning, our birth under Quezon, Osmeña’s regime is now filled with hope; and you certainly have to have a lot of patience during this regime of Laurel.


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 28, 1944

It’s been a very quiet day except for AA practice early this morning. The Japs are speeding up their defenses. They’re building fox-holes and dug-outs in their gardens. Saw seven AA guns and some cannons rumble through Valenzuela. Joe says they’ve put AA guns at Silencio, very near our old house. They are transferring their supplies into houses and churches. Jap trucks go in and out of Santa Cruz Church. Cine Oro is a volcano of shells. So is Tondo Church.

The Japs have become stricter with the American internees. They were sore about the way they waved at the U.S. planes that flew very low over the camp. All the houses behind Santo Tomas camp will be leveled. Guns will be emplaced over there.

Tia Mary said that two American fliers bailed out at Porac, Pampanga. The people hid them from the Japs. The Americans asked to be brought to Tayabas.

Main topic of conversation downtown is: when will they bomb again? Where will they land? Will they try to get Mindanao first? Or will it be simultaneous with Luzon? When they bomb again will that be a continuous non-stop bombardment till they land or will it be just a trial balloon? I’ve noticed that most people think they’ll bomb again “within the next few days and that’ll be accompanied with landings around Tayabas and Camarines simultaneous with Mindanao or they might even by-pass Mindanao and Visayas”. They think “it’ll be a combined attack by Nimitz’ fleet and Halsey’s and Mac’s Army and it’ll be over in a few weeks.” There is almost unanimity in the belief that “it’ll be over before the year ends” and anybody who thinks otherwise “is a yellow defeatist, a stupid, goodfornothing pessimist”. Somebody said “But look at Davao. They’ve been bombing her for more than a month now and still there are no landings” and the poor fellow was made to pipe down with a chorus of “you’re a wet-blanket, pro-Jap!”


September 27, 1944

I don’t know whether to laugh or to mourn but the puppets among us are still trying to show that we really have independence around here and that we are free and that we are running the show in these islands. No. 1 puppet, Jose Laurel, gave a speech over the radio and he paraphrased Lincoln’s “United we stand; divided we fall” speech. Then he appointed deputy governors and other officials to suit the tempo of the martial law he has enforced in this country through the courtesy of Japanese bayonets and guns. But what is the use of all this puppet-show, this stage-lighting, this silly act that fools nobody but themselves? Everybody knows that what counts in the Philippines today is not what Filipino officials say but what the Japanese officers dictate. Laurel is nothing but an echo, a human microphone with eye-glasses and an ability to make a pretense. He probably thinks he is fooling the Filipino people with his repeated affirmations that there is going to be no conscription. But that doesn’t pull the wool over anybody’s eyes. Everybody knows well enough that the Japs don’t want to arm the Filipinos for the plain and simple reason that their heads are not going to stay on their necks if they give our countrymen bayonets and guns. Oh well, why bore you with the stupid acts of our puppets? The less said of them, the better…

Saw a heart-breaking scene today. A young fellow knocked at our door and then collapsed. My cousin revived him with water and food. He had tears in his eyes and he said that he had not eaten for days. This is just the beginning. Hungry days are fast approaching. Food supply is getting very low. Very few things are being sold at the market and at sky-high prices. An egg costs more than ₱7.00; a ganta of rice around ₱160; and if something happens to the water-reservoir, even water will probably be sold. Ate nothing but canned goods today. Beans, sardines and a little rice. Its good Mama and Papa thought of stocking up canned stuff for lean days and it’s good too that the canned goods have not deteriorated. The stuff we have were bought before the war when the slogan of the CEA was “Make every home an arsenal of food”.

Got to close this letter now. Joe’s waiting for me. We intend to bike around town. Santa Cruz and Tondo churches have been taken by the Japanese. Atop the tower of Quiapo church, there are AA guns. Tio Gabriel said that the Cathedral had been filled with ammunition. Oh well, what can you expect from these people? And then, I suppose, they’ll cry like babies and tell the world that the Americans have bombed churches, if U.S. planes drop a few sticks on these ancients relics! Manila may yet be another Cassino.

P.S.

Curfew has been advanced to 8 o’clock. Some say 7 o’clock. Its hard to verify. The sentries don’t talk in English except in their native, savage Japanese. There are no newspaper that reach this district. The Tribune newsboy delivers the papers only when feels like. And all the telephones –for civilians– are out of order.


September 24, 1944

Its been a lonely day. No bombs. No siren. Nothing but wait and wait and wait from morning to afternoon to late this evening.

We’ve moved part of our furniture already. I can’t describe how sad it feels to leave a house you’ve occupied for more than thirty years. But what can we do? These Japanese don’t know the meaning of kindness, not to mention justice.

There are rumors that landings have been effected somewhere in Camarines and in Atimonan, Tayabas. A BIBA chauffeur reported that American tanks have landed in Camarines. I’m keeping my fingers crossed. I hope this isn’t a false alarm.

A 1000-ton Japanese ship was set ablaze this morning at Pier 7 by Filipino guerrillas, according to a Japanese officer who talked to Joe Meily this afternoon. He said that “the Filipino terrorists” have not been apprehended.

Sal Neri came over this afternoon. He said that members of the Military Police inspected the house of Pedro Vera and Miguel Cañizares at four o’clock yesterday morning. “They were looking for transmitters,” he stated.

Another Japanese officer came to the house this afternoon. There is no such thing as privacy these days. We had a short conversation. He told me that he came from New Guinea. I asked “How was Hollandia?” He closed his eyes, shrugged his head and said “So very terrible.”

At about 10 o’clock this morning, Japanese soldiers living in the house across the street ran to their fox holes like frightened chickens. Apparently U.S. planes were sighted. Traffic was stopped in Santa Mesa street until noon time, according to Joe Meily.


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.


September 22, 1944

Didn’t know we still had baloney these days until I read the Tribune. It was crying out loud about Filipinos being angry due to the inhuman acts of American aviators.

More baloney: Laurel declares the Philippines under martial law. The problem with our puppet president is that he doesn’t leave his room in Malacañang. If he only took the trouble of going downtown, he’ll know who’s running this country. You can’t walk around without showing some piece of paper with Japanese scrawl to hundreds of Japanese soldiers posted in every street corner. If that isn’t martial law then what is!

The Americans came back this morning again with more bombs, hooray. They dove at all the ships in the Bay area and they destroyed Piers 3, 5 and 7. The tower of the Customs Building has disappeared and the warehouses at Malecon Drive were wiped out by incendiaries.

U.S. planes flew very low over the heart of Manila. Two planes circled below the dome of Binondo Church. People waved handkerchiefs at them and the aviators coolly waved back. Japanese sentries looked on sullenly. The happy incident was marred by Philippine Constabulary soldiers at the Oriente Building who machinegunned the low-flying planes under orders from Japanese soldiers. The bombers circled around the Oriente Building, headquarters of the Constabulary, dropped two incendiary bombs and flew off.

Far Easter University and San Beda College which are being used as garrisons by the Japanese troops were also strafed. Several civilians were hit by stray bullets but more deaths were caused by the anti-aircraft guns of the Japanese.

Joe Meily said a ship near the Boulevard was hit by a bomb and a lot of hundred-peso bills were blown to the shore. Some of the bills reached Ermita and Malate and the people scrambled for them.

The Japanese are taking their supplies out of the piers because they expect more bombings. They’re quite sad about the fact that their planes don’t even go up to challenge the Americans.

There were no bombs dropped this afternoon. Maybe they’re resting. Joe was disappointed.

This is bad news. We’re going to leave our house. The Japs are taking it. They said “So sorry” to Dad’s appeal. Mama is crying. I told her to stop. “Anyway ma,” I explained, “We will get the house back in a few months. They’ll be here soon.”

Am very tired. Perhaps due to the excitement of the last two days. But it doesn’t matter. My heart is happy.


May 2, 1942

Must call Goyo Anonas. I was told his son is with Philip in Capas. Told Lolita to inform Mrs. Jose Meily that her son Joe was seen alive on the day of surrender in Mt. Mariveles. My cousin Nena Lopez-Rizal is very worried. There is no news of her son Andring. Mrs. Gruet met Lolita in church. She said: “You are lucky. Your son has come back. Mine…” and she broke into tears.

Churchill was right. War is blood and tears…