October 20, 1944

There was an alarm today but the raiders did not pass overhead, giving our shattered nerves a respite from the thunderous experiences of the past days. The raiders, at least, had been considerate enough to allow us to sleep and eat in peace, although the mere sound of a car was enough to make us stand on our toes. This was true among us who had experienced the explosion of bombs over our heads. We were perhaps the most affected, or to put it mildly, the most terrified. There were some exceptions—the Fathers who watched the bombings from the tower where they could see but not be seen.

A bomb fell yesterday near the Legazpi-Urdaneta monument, up an enormous crater, burying alive thirty-one persons who died of asphyxiation. They were in a shelter nearby. At the explosion, mounds of earth and a big uprooted tree covered the entrance.

The Luneta was turned into a forest of anti-aircraft guns. There was such a shower of exploded shells and stray bullets that even those who stayed in light houses could not be protected. If anyone was spared by the metallic fragments, it was someting miraculous. A roof of GI sheets and a wooden floor were as easily pierced as if they were made of paper.

May 5, 1943

This morning, there was another gathering at the Luneta in honor of Premier Tojo. The invitation to join the crowd was extended to students and members of the religious groups. According to the papers, some 300,000 persons, about one third of the population of the Greater Manila area, came freely and voluntarily to see and listen to the Chief of the Japanese State. I suppose one zero must have slipped into the press in giving the figures in gatherings like this. For the first time, English was not used. The speeches were either delivered in or translated into Tagalog.

President Vargas delivered a short but substantial speech, condemning and denouncing the ominous American tyranny and extolling Japanese benevolence to high heavens. The speech reached the peak of its fervor with the promise and offer of all the material and moral support of the Philippines so that Japan might completely crush the remaining Anglo-American forces. Did the illustrious visitor take the speech seriously, or considered it as a mere manner of speaking?

Premier Tojo was also brief and concise. He said, in part:

The Japanese Empire is now providing you with all possible assistance, that you may emerge from the chaos and whirlpool of the old regime and enter the glorious existence of the new. For the present I speak in the name of my country and its one hundred million free inhabitants, that this help will continue without reservation through the future. I am happy to state that on my arrival in this country, I found in all places tangible proofs of your growing desire to cooperate more closely with the Japanese Imperial government. With great satisfaction I note that you have speedily progressed in your endeavor of creating a new Philippines, and that under these circumstances, I am more than ever convinced of the convenience of granting you an early independence.

May 4, 1943

Parades and meetings are a common sight at the Luneta. In less than a month’s time, eight gatherings and parades had been held with compulsory attendance before the monument of Rizal. These celebrations are held for any reason whatsoever, and they prove to be more burdensome than ordinary working days because people have to march through the parades.

The forthcoming holiday which will be a three-day vacation will be celebrated in memory of the fall of Corregidor and to give thanks for the permanent defeat of the Americans. As usual, the occasion will be celebrated to the beat and accompaniment of parade marches. There is a rumor that the celebration will be a welcome ceremony for an illustrious personage who will visit us, probably Minister Aoki. To our surprise, it was announced by a lead team that the visitor was General Tojo himself, the Prime Minister and Chief of State. The announcer, equipped with a powerful loudspeaker, blared out instructions to the multitude along Taft Avenue from Vito Cruz to Manila Hotel, on how to make the bow when the Premier should pass, and to wave the flags and shout Banzai.

Speculations ran high on what the purpose of the sudden visit could be. The people, however, due to the sacrifice they had to undergo standing in the heat of the sun, felt contempt rather than enthusiasm.

December 8, 1942

We have completed one year of war. Even the pessimistic estimate that the war would not last another ten months, and the optimists are not expecting that peace would settle on these islands in 1943. Only the fanatics are predicting the return of peace by the 15th of the month.

The new masters wanted the public to participate in the festivities at the Luneta, and they had succeeded in doing it. The newspapers placed the number of participants at a hundred thousand in the civil parade and a similar number of spectators. It showed beyond doubt that the public responded to the call of the authorities, spontaneously or otherwise. Government employees and those in Japanese-controlled firms may not have shown enthusiasm, but certainly there was a healthy respect for those at the top. Everyone was resigned to answering “Present!” when his name was called from a list. The Chinese were very enthusiastic, participating with their musical band and a 20-meter dragon in a funeral rejoicing.

The streets were very animated. Streetcars and buses offered free rides to the public. Movie houses which showed Japanese war victories also admitted the public free of charge. Due to this liberalism, an unusual stir, interpreted as an expression of popular rejoicing, could be felt in the city.

June 3, 1942

The occupation army held a military parade at the Luneta to celebrate the end of military operations in the Philippines. Some 80 tanks, canons of all calibers, anti-aircraft guns mounted on trucks, and motorized infantry men paraded through Burgos Avenue. The din was deafening.

Fifty planes flew overhead in perfect formation, three of which performed aerial acrobatics. There were other displays of military might in other avenues which we did not witness. There was no brass band, unlike in other military parades of the past years, where the brass bands constituted a major attraction.

The districts around the Luneta were made off-limits to traffic, and since early morning, no one could leave Intramuros or Ermita. People were requested to close the windows of higher floors and watch the parade from the sidewalks or from ground floors.

At the Luneta, only invited guests were allowed to enter and view the parade, namely, General Homma and his retinue, the high officials of the army and the government, and some representatives of Allied or neutral governments.

As the gates of the Walled City were closed, people could not go to their respective places of work, nor to the market. We therefore could not buy our supplies for the day. And as we did not want to go on a fast, Fr. Sadaba and myself decided to play mendicants, appealing to the charity of our guests. We jumped over the barrier that separated us, and went to their kitchen, which was ours in the place. With signs—we have been improving our use of the language of the mutes—we made them understand that we had nothing to eat. The cook, a typical representative of his profession—good-natured, corpulent, with wall-sized shoulders and a pair of elephantine biceps—opened their, or better still, our refrigerator and gave us a basketful of eggs, meat, tomatoes and eggplants.

A kitchen aide approached us and, forming a cross with his fingers, asked, “Kristu?”

“Yes, we Kristu,” meaning we were Christians.

He pointed to himself and said, “Kristu.”

“Oh, you Kristu,” we said, and we laughed and nodded our heads in mutual understanding.

“Nagasaki,” he continued.

“You from Nagasaki?” Nagasaki is the center of Catholicism in Japan. He started counting with his fingers, asking how many Christians we were.

We answered, also with our fingers, that we were twelve Christians in that place. The good Japanese appeared well-pleased.

We glanced at their food storeroom and saw that there were basketfuls of fruits and vegetables, sacks of rice and big quantities of meat and fish. We could not help gazing with envy at the big cauldrons overflowing with steaming rice and big chunks of meat, as if in preparation for a big feast.

If only we could understand one another, we and the tenants could be of mutual assistance to each other. They could help us materially and we could help them spiritually. We could see that they were eager to converse with us. But in spite of their gesticulations and their practice in the art of mimicry, we still find ourselves at a loss.

We just found out that these soldiers are pilots or air cadets, some of whom had taken part in the bombing of Intramuros. Every morning most of them are fetched by magnificent buses, and we imagine that they are taken to an airfield.

They must have been assigned their living quarters in this residential place so that enemy planes may not get to them. Perhaps they do not feel secure within the vicinity of an airfield. We are only hoping that the flying fortresses would not spot them and drop some bombs on our place!

December 9, 1941

About 2:00 A.M. was awakened by distant explosions & shaking of the building. Jumped from bed & ran outside. Explosions & gun fire from Nichols field accompanied by a myriad of red flares. Staid up discussing the situation with some apprehension. At 4:00 A.M. all hands called to Sternberg as casualties started arriving from Iba & Clark Field. These continued to come in all day keeping the O.R. constantly busy. Very difficult to keep admissions straight & impossible to keep locator cards accurate due to the large number of transfers. Patients were brought in in trucks, ambulances, etc. The trucks having several layers of patients most of whom had gruesome wounds. Many had shrapnel wounds of the buttock. During the morning all the patients from the Naval hospital at Canacao were brought into Sternberg. Most were put in estate Mayor annex. About 12:30 we sighted 54 two motored bombers flying high. No clouds & was difficult to watch them because of sun. Was a beautiful sight paradoxically. They flew from the north almost directly over head and it was laughable the way our A.A. went to work. The bursts were seen at all points of the campass & those that were in the general direction of the planes were several thousand feet short. No pursuits went to intercept them for as we learned later, practically all our air force had been wiped out by the previous days bombing at Iba, Clark, & Nichols Fields. For some unexplained reason our B-17’s & pursuits were held on the ground all lined up nicely so that a minimum amount of bombs were required. (This is hearsay about the plane destruction). The bombers dropped a few on Nichols completing their devastation there & went out to Cavite & after a dry run came back over the Navy yard & really unloaded. They skipped the hospital & then hit the radio towers. It was an accurate sample of bombing completely putting the place out of commission. There were several thousand workers in the yard at the time and the amount of casualties were untold. About 4:00 P.M. casualties were brought by boat to the A & N Club landing and to the navy pier between pier 1 & pier 3. These continued to come by boatload thruout the nite. The injuries were terrific –Many compound fractures & barge loads of dismembered corpses were brought over & stacked in vehicles to be carted away to the morgue for identification & burial. I was at Port Area evacuating a boat loaf of about 100 patients at midnite when the sirens came on. I sent the loaded ambulances on to Sternberg & after some consultation, the skipper decided to push out into the bay until the raid was over & then return & unload the remainder. I took the remaining ambulances up to the Luneta to wait as we figured port area was due & it is hard to stay hitched in a place like that.

May 7, 1899

Sunday. Lay around quarters reading all day. About 5 Miss Dunn called for me in her cart we went out on Luenetta [Luneta] listened to music o f the people and about 6:30 came over to dinner then drove out toward Emilia [Ermita]. Shower came up so we returned home about 7:30. Had a fine drive. Luenetta (sic) is becoming great place for American women. They all come dressed in their best which is of course fine. They have adapted the Spanish custom of going without hats which is far ahead of a unexpected treat. I came home on Capts [Captain’s] pass about 10 p.m.

Wednesday, January 25th, 1899

It has raigned all Night pretty near but at day break it ceases and the Sun came out read hot we have 7 men on Guard with 3 additional at Night and 11 men on Outpost good many Concerts are going on the Lunetta by the different Regimental Bands. Alguinaldo issues Orders that all Filipinos working under America Govermant or any other Place must take out a permit our papers simply laugh at the Idia and further permit our Officers to come through their lines that is without Arms to this we have never objected to sins we are here many men are getting short Forlough to goe into the Country especially Enginers and Miners but its rather dangerous the same Men remain on the Sick Book and about 12 men are of duty from Sore Arms caused by vacination

It has rained all night pretty near, but at day break it ceases and the sun came out red hot. We have seven men on guard with three additional at night and eleven men on outpost. A good many concerts are going on the Luneta by different regimental bands. Aguinaldo issues orders that all Filipinos working under the American Government or any other place must take out a permit. Our papers simply laugh at the idea and further permit our officers to come through their lines, that is without arms. To this we have never objected to since we are here many men are getting short furloughs to go into the country especially engineers and miners, but it’s rather dangerous. The same men remain on the sick book and about twelve men are off duty from sore arms caused by vaccination.

Monday 1-23-99

Practiced in Teatro de Filipino an a.m. Took dinner in a swell joint down town. Worked on map all rest of day until retreat. Went to Luneta in a Victoria with Musician McKay –Co. B. the 13th Minn. band was playing– had a long ride down the Paseo de Bagumbayan, across Ponto [Puente] de Espana –built in 1637, to La Escolta y Call[e] de San Jacinto. Had an ice cream of goat’s milk. Back to quarters via Calle Real concepcion y Mqrs Comillas y Canonico [Canonigo]. Then we went to headqtrs, 79th, on Calle Nozaleda and senaded the Col. Wholley.