We had breakfast with Colonel Bradley Commanding Officer 8th Cavalry Regiment. We were then informed that a B-25 has crashed landed in the bay not far from the beach. We went to the spot but the pilots were gone. The plane was under shallow water. We asked two men to dive inside the plane to find out if there were any drowned men. There were none. The divers were able to retrieve the parachutes & briefcases of the pilot and crew. Proceeded to La Paz where we took jeeps and proceeded to General Hoffman’s Command Post 25 miles north. Had dinner with him. Returned to Tacloban arriving about 8 p.m.
Today at 2:00 p.m. we had an air raid warning. Planes flew over us, but did not bomb. Manila, Cebu and Davao are being bombed day and night.
Many Japanese ships have been sunk off the coast of Samar.
The Japanese colonel in charge of the forces on Panay has given strict orders for the soldiers not to shoot at the American planes. Many civilian casualties resulted as a result of this in Cebu, and the planes would return the fire.
The Japanese have stored a large supply of rice in two churches in La Paz. The prices of commodities are still on an upward trend. White Label Whiskey costs 1,200 Pesos a bottle. Even fish now costs 70 Pesos a pound.
Rice today has now gone up to 60 Pesos a ganta (went up 10 Pesos in one week). Pork costs 40 Pesos a kilo, beef 30 Pesos. One can (large) of condensed milk costs 120 pesos, one egg costs P2.80. Thank goodness our ducks (8) and chickens (6) are laying. There is much hunger in Iloilo and people are beginning to show the effects of it. Don Ramon Lopez and Doña Margarita are feeding from 50 to 100 poor children a day, and since they have begun this wonderful humanitarian act, others are following his example. Don Ramon is always the leader in every undertaking which benefits mankind or animal.
Besides Mr. Lopez, the Catholic church and Baptist church have free kitchens for the poor. Iloilo and La Paz have several kitchens.
There is always trouble outside and the guerillas harass the Japanese most of the time. Not only are the guerrillas active, but so are the bandits. They are becoming so numerous that many houses have been robbed in Jaro and La Paz. It seems that they come in with the guerrillas, so that one does not know who is who anymore. We are quite safe as our house is near the Japanese garrison, and both the guerrillas and bandits are afraid to venture too close as there are always Japanese patrols.
There has been no shooting from the guerrillas in Jaro for the past several weeks, but in La Paz every other night there is some disturbance. The Japanese are becoming tired of it and gave the people there a surprise raid. All houses were searched, men were placed in the sun for the day, and suspects arrested.
Five months have gone by since I last wrote, and so many things have taken place – too numerous for me to remember.
On June 21, 1943, the guerrillas entered the city at 2:00 a.m. burning many houses in La Paz and Jaro. Our house and vicinity was surrounded by guerrillas. One guerrilla shot out the light on our front porch! The Japanese started firing, and we all went downstairs and lay down on the floor while machine guns were firing all around us! This lasted for an hour before all was quiet again. For three nights the guerrillas came in during the night and left at daybreak. We are always on the alert. During these times, many people went to the churches to sleep. The churches here, as you know are very solid, with walls a meter thick built by the Spaniards many years ago. After this, everything was calm for the next eight months until February 11, 1944, the eve of Abraham Lincoln’s birthday. We had been asleep for a few hours when we were awakened at 11:00 p.m. by a volley of shots. We immediately went downstairs to the shelter – Roland grabbed his pillow and blanket and was the first one down. The guerrillas had entered Jaro and La Paz again and were setting fires to the homes. Fortunately, our house is isolated and far from the location where the fires are usually set.
We were awakened by the sound of machine guns last night coming from several places. Meñing (Dr. Bernas) said it was best for us to go downstairs (ground level) to avoid getting hit by stray bullets. Last year he had fixed a bullet-proof room as there was so much guerilla activity at that time. A cow and a carabao were killed in front of their house at the time. We all went downstairs. The boys were already there, as that is where they sleep now. The shooting continued for a while.
It is rumored that the guerillas have started their activity again, had entered La Paz and set fires in La Paz, Jaro and Manduriao. Whenever the fires occur during the night, the Japanese always shoot around the fire, so if there are any guerillas, they will get it.
April 9 was the anniversary of the fall of Bataan and last week, one of the released Filipino officers that took part in the battle visited us. He told us of his experiences and how he had saved his life six different times.
On April 27 the S.S. “BANAHAO” a former Coast Guard cutter now in the hands of the Japanese was sunk off the coast of San Joaquin, not far from Iloilo. Imagine the excitement of the people knowing that an American submarine is near our island! The Japanese have now stopped shipping from island to island and they are very concerned. Some of the survivors of the cutter (Japanese and Filipinos) were brought to the Iloilo hospital.
Eleven days ago the guerrillas cut the water supply in Maasin, and two truckloads of Japanese with some Filipinos were sent to repair it. They fixed up the damage, but on the return home, one of the trucks was blown up by a mine. The other truck was saved because it was farther away.
Today the silence has been broken by the sound of cannon fire coming from the direction of Barotac Nuevo.
A relative of Coné (Lt. Hortillosa) came to see us. He brought the news that he had met with someone who had seen Coné before Christmas at the La Paz market place and he was looking well. We were happy to hear this news as the Philippine Army propaganda mentioned, “The prisoners in Iloilo were sent to Manila.” Although I did not believe it, we have heard this many times.
Several days have passed since I have written. It is very quiet out our way since Pototan has been taken by the Army, but there is always trouble in Iloilo. I am thinking of my many friends that are there and I hope they come safely through, as it will be a reign of terror when the army enters the city. Spies that have come from Iloilo recently said, “La Paz, Iloilo and Jaro are well fortified by the Japanese with land mines and traps.” Sometimes I feel like I cannot stand the suspense of it all, and I believe my nerves would have cracked if I had not come here. I now eat and sleep well and I am gaining a little weight. Rose has been very kind; she has been with me ever since we moved to this new hideout and contributes towards expenses.