We lie on the bed or sit on Daddy’s while he draws plans for our ideal house in Baguio or Shenandoah Valley. There is no food to prepare, no books to read, no strength for anything, so we all plan various futures, talk about the future and the past in order to forget the hunger and food and the monotony of living from day to day, waiting—.
Bede wants to talk about food all the time—how he will raid the icebox. Bread and butter—oh! says he—with chicken or ham or cheese on it! When we get under the net I let them talk food for an hour every night, then they must not mention it again. I can only stand it that long every day.
Tho’ I am weak today, I feel rested and completely peaceful -I went to Confession last night & to Communion this morning – I saw Jose Ossario and know that if I die Dorita & the children will be sent back by the 1st boat and will be taken care of – It is a good thing to get these arrangements finished – So many now are beginning to collapse and die within 24 hours –
But while this may sound depressing, I am not depressed – In fact, my hopes are high, the news is good – And soon we shall see each other again – And all of this will be a nightmare, gone, dissolved, only remembered on stormy nights when one feels lost and alone – and really despairs.
The Japanese financial adviser in Manila has given us a few graphic flashes of the last days of the Laurel regime in that city. Its government, he said, had ceased to exist for all practical purposes. It could not collect one centavo in taxes; the collector of internal revenue had himself fled to the provinces on the excuse of bad health; the government was living on 50 million yen borrowed from the Nampo (Southern Development) bank against the 200 million credit granted last year by the Bank of Japan. Nor could the government exert its authority outside the city borders of the capital. Orders to provincial governors could be delivered only through the Japanese army. The governors of Bulacan, Rizal, and Pampanga, summoned to Manila to receive instructions, had disappeared on the way back to their posts.
The people were starving; about 200 died of hunger every day. Rice was so scarce that when the Japanese garrisons went out to wash their messkits at roadside faucets, hundreds of Filipinos would gather around them, shouting “service” (one useful English word the Japanese had picked up), and waving thick wads of military notes for which they wanted only the pathetic privilege of washing the mess-kits and scraping together the few grains of rice left in them.
The Japanese, of course, know nothing of the horror they have wrought. They believe their newspapers which picture the Filipinos as grateful to the Japanese and ready in this hour of trial to fight at their side. They themselves, poor devils, are not better off. It is just as difficult to blame them as to pity them.
Landings began Jan. 6th – MacArthur & staff landed Jan. 9th. 9:48 A.M. – Lingayen, Damartis, Dayupan, Mahilaoe taken .20 miles inland – No definite report from South, but it is rumored that the Japs have left Los Banos Camp. Task force shelling Cavite coast & Corregidor –
4-engine bombers went, along Mariquina Valley bombing this AM (22 in all). Later many flew north –
Only a scoop of watery rice mush for breakfeast – But our hopes were never higher! The Jap radio said this morning that they were repulsing our landings at Lingayen which had started on the 6th (5 days ago!)
There are rumors of a task force & convoy outside Manila Bay – Demolition work is continuing –
I am probably under 100 lbs again but it won’t be long – Dorita & the children, thanks to the extra food, are holding up well –
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Bombing and strafing this afternoon – Large fires started –
Reports of landings are becoming more definite –
Food tonight very skimpy.
Another man died at 900 PM this evening – 2 more are dying – Many are
Air-raid alarm on now since 7:30 AM Jan 6th Definite reports of landings on Luzon – Anbimonan, Batangas, Cavite Province, San Fernando –
Our big planes came over at 10:00 AM and heavily bombed the North Road & Grace Park – Leaflets were dropped (picture of MacArthur & Kruger) with message that our troops were back again, that Filipinos were to get away from military objectives, that our Army was so strong it needed no help from Filipino civilians and that our troops would
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be here in a few days –
Demolition work continued all day – Apparently in Port Area –
This evening there were terrific explosions not far from the camp –
Perhaps San Lazaro –
The electric power plant, the gas plant & the water works have not yet been blown up.
The food situation is terrible – Thank God, I managed to buy that extra food for Dorita & the children.
Eddie Vargas called up today by long-distance from Taiwan; he is stranded there. All civilian air travel to the Philippines has been suspended. We are now definitely cut off from home; no more couriers, no more letters, even telegrams will be difficult unless they are official and urgent.
As the situation deteriorates, the press is allowed to say more and more, arethey learning to let the people down slowly? Or are the authorities trying to frighten the people of Tokyo out of the threatened capital? Now the vernaculars are saying, that the Americans have more ships in the Philippines than the Japanese have planes. So much for the “one ship, one plane” strategy.
The Asahi also carries a “special” today from Manila bemoaning the fact that the Japanese could have “annihilated” the American convoy off Mindoro on the 15th December if they had had enough planes. It was, the paper said, “a serious mortification”.
But the people of Tokyo are still looking at the war as something fantastic and far-away. They are now amusing themselves with the report that the Americans are having to fall back on “artificial earthquake” plans to destroy Japan’s main cities. And when there was a full-scale air alarm this noon, there was no one in the basement, which is supposed to be the apartment air-raid shelter.
Instead our French neighbor, Yvonne, who ran away from Paris to escape the war, came rushing in, wringing her hands. She had come back from her apartment to find the gas sealed. She looked terribly thin and anxious; she brought us a present of four eggs and asked for the loan of our gas stove. “Life is so complicated,” she wailed in the way she has of repeating her English lover’s clichés. “They only do it because I’m French.” But in some respect it is her own fault. She had been warned about the limitations on the consumption of gas but she had kept her stove burning practically the whole day for days on end “to heat the apartment” and “because I drink a lot of tea”.
Of course about 70 sen worth of gas (the official limit for one person for one month) is not much but they will probably cut off her gas for the time equivalent to her excess consumption.
Poor Yvonne, life will be so much more complicated without tea.
In the midst of life we are in death – Pleasant thought – but true of us – The last day of 1944 – Thank God! This year is over – 1945 will at least, and at last, bring release.
I have been kept doped all day – they’ll make me rest, whether I want to or not –
the Japanese are feeding us camotes instead of rice for dinner – In fact, this represents a cut in our calory intake again, as due to dirt, peelings, rotten pieces etc. camotes are needed 5 to 1 – The Japs only count 2 -1 – Some meat came in for tomorrow. That will be pleasant.
I weigh 100 lbs today.
[Separate sheet with date in blue crayon—and designated as second part to Dec.
At the end of November I wrote “If neither the Marines nor the kits arrive, there will be widespread deaths and permanent physical impairment”. Neither arrived & deaths increased in December, the hospitals are full of sick & starved people, The non-hospitalized look as though they should be – The cut in rations on Dec 20th by 25% was a hard blow –
So for January the outlook is grim indeed – Both kits & marines will arrive too late for many internees – And the extent of permanent physical impairment is increasing.
The Military situation improved further. Our forces occupied Mindoro & Polillo Islands – They are within striking distance. We have had no real bombings since Dec. 16th.
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The time is ripe – the attack can come any day now – It may be one week, it may be six; beyond that I dare not look (unless we get kits and even the basic diet is much too low) – It must be the marines – Then home and rest and good food – Afterwords work again.
Hunger is certainly a terrible thing – From now on I’ll appreciate the full meaning of the word “starvation”! I hope these Japs are punished – all this was so needless and so cruel.
The committee on housing met and thrashed out a plan and map, but when it was posted with locations and a key diagram, there was a furor and whole sections sat down and refused to move. All places seem equal to me, alike as two peas, but the usual barnacle attachment has begun and people are too tired to think of moving. They just squat and defy.