December 23, 1944

10:15 a.m. eighteen B-24’s with several P-38’s came over and bombed Grace Park and kept on going toward Mariveles. The most beautiful and inspiring sight of my life. Felt like crying. Several women did cry. Later they came back and sprinkled (that’s the word) Grace Park with small bombs. One large fire (oil) and several small ones. Four P-38’s straffed a place far out in Quezon City, probably a troop concentration. At 10:00 p.m. more bombings probably one or two planes. Passed waterfront and Nichols field 3 times –dropped some bombs. Shell bursts from anti-aircraft guns was beautiful to behold. Last raid about 11:00 p.m.


November 14, 1944

Manilans are excited, morale has soared and there are bright smiles on the faces of everyone you meet on the streets. All day yesterday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. for almost every hour, U.S. planes bombed and rebombed Jap installations in the City. There are fires all around: two in the direction of Murphy, three in the area around Nichol’s Field, and one, big blazing hell around the Pier area.

Talk of “landings in Luzon” is in everyone’s lips. Some think Mac is now somewhere in Camarinez, others that American marines have taken positions in Tayabas and still others think that the shelling of Batangas coast has started. Others believe that “landings will be effected on the 15th, Commonwealth anniversary” and some are of the opinion that “landings will be effected within this week in Luzon”. All these opinions and beliefs and hunches tend to show one thing: the bombings have lifted morale, bolstered some weak spirits already on the downgrade due to marked decrease of aerial attacks on City and claims of Jap victories off Philippine waters by Radio Tokyo and “slowing down of Leyte operations”.

Everybody agrees that yesterday’s air raid was the “strongest and longest” ever experienced by this City but the main highlight was that U.S. fighter plane that flew a few meters above old, historic Jones Bridge. “You could have hit it with a stone” said an eye-witnesss who was at the Escolta at the time. Japs machine-gunned the lw-flying plane but it swerved right back and strafed Jap vessels docked at the Pasig. People at the National Bank said that they could feel strong gusts of wind hitting their chests every time bombs were dumped at several Jap boats at the Boulevard. No Jap planes flew up to challenge the Americans. “But,” said someone “tomorrow’s paper will claim that Jap planes repelled American attackers and that very little damage was done to military installations and that great casualties inflicted on civilians.”

I was all dressed up yesterday to go to Monching Araneta’s burial when all of a sudden I saw hundreds of planes swooping down on Murphy. I could distinctly hear the rat-a-tat of the machine-guns. Then the earth began to shake and mama started shouting for “Dolly and Neneng” to go to the shelter. Then the siren sounded and the Japns on the other house started scrambling for their foxholes. Several AA shrapnel dropped in the garden and one AA shell fell short and burst beside the Jap sentry on the corner of the street beside the house. The Jap ran inside our garden and his face was pale and lips were trembling and he kept pointing at his feet making signs to show that one big chunk of iron passed a few inches between his legs.

There was no light until six o’clock yesterday. Electrical communications were destroyed. A lot of the meat and fish we had stored up on the frigidaire got spoiled and the electric stove couldn’t be used. Ma had to do the cooking on native stoves with firewood. Our telephone went “dead” too because the lines around Santa Mesa were either “sabotaged” or grounded. Radio broadcasting was blocked off and the only way to get news was by short-wave but my radio was out of order. I went to the radio man to fix it up and he promised to have it ready for today. On the way, there were very few people on the streets and almost everybody was walking. All Jap soldiers were wearing their battle-uniforms, steel helmet, fixed bayonets and camouflage-nets all around their bodies. All Jap girls were wearing slacks clipped around the ankle. I met a friend and he shouted: “Business is very good, a lot of gains and the balance has been definitely in our favor. We may expect dividends any day now. The competing firm is about to close down, in a few weeks.”

Early this morning, we had another raid just before breakfast time. I was beginning to feel sad when I woke up because I thought there would be no raids today. When all of a sudden, the siren sounded and then I heard the distinct roar of U.S. planes. Yes, its another raid. Looks like we will have plenty of visits today. Come on Mac.


November 5, 1944

Airraid at 7:30 a.m. Could hear our planes before alarms went. Heavy bombing at Zablan, Nichols, and Neilson air fields. Several dog fights. I saw one plane come down in flames. It was spinning like a top, nose down. It was said that six others were shot down over toward the South.

Saw one flight of our planes, 32 in all. Quiet again at 8:15 a.m. 9:30 a.m. another wave of planes came over. Heavy bombing. Another plane fell and blew up at Zablan Field. Alarm again at 12:50. Two more in the afternoon.


October 29, 1944

Twenty minutes of eight — heard planes– spotted eight flying high. Thought they might be Japanese, but the anti-aircraft guns soon let loose and bombs began to fall near Nichols Field and the waterfront — circled around several times and at nine a.m. was quiet (They were caught napping).

At 9:25 a.m. 12 Japanese planes went northwest.

One dog fight over Tondo. One plane down. Air raid alarm off at 10:45 a.m. At 1:00 p.m. another wave of planes came over — alarm went at same time. bombing towards piers. Raid over at 2:11 p.m. 3:30 p.m. alarm sounded — planes came over about 4:00 p.m. Bombed waterfront and ships on harbor. All clear sounded at 5:45 p.m.


October 24, 1944

Some twenty planes made a thunderous attack over Nichols, catching the guardians of the city unaware. They did not hit as accurately as on the first day.

In San Pedro, Makati, bombs were dropped off-target. A boat in Manila Bay was bombed several times but it remained firmly afloat.

A Japanese official attributed this poor hitting precision to the fact that the pilots were Canadians, not Americans. That was a consolation for the Imperial Air Force which had already lost supremacy of the air in the Philippines since the first day.

A good part of the Japanese officialdom is gradually being convinced, not only of the possibility of losing the war, but also of the improbability of winning it. The troops are a small ignorant herd who, upon landing on this soil a few months ago, were asking if they had embarked in Australia. A number of officers are worried about being forced to commit harakiri should they lose this last battle. One Catholic among them, on being advised that it was prohibited for him to commit suicide, remarked that he and his family would be dishonored and could no longer live in Japan.


October 16, 1944

The Philippines yesterday celebrated the first anniversary of its independence in peace, thanks to the resounding defeat of the invading Americans in the Taiwan waters. We could be sure that the punishment was such that the Americans were forced to abandon their idea of proceeding to the Philippines to cut short our independence celebration. We knew very well that the American aircraft carriers were sunk or damaged and the Americans were being driven in flight by the Japanese Air Force.

I was reading this dogmatic editorial when the air raid signal no. 1 sounded, and within a few minutes, anti-aircraft shells were exploding above the clouds. The Japanese fighter planes, emboldened by the editorial, were flying confidently overhead when the American bombers came without having learned about the sinking of their aircraft carrier. Bombs exploded so loudly from Nichols that they could be heard in Balintawak, as a giant umbrella rose from the airfield.

Eighteen out of sixty American planes were downed according to Japanese propaganda. Tokyo found the figure too low and increased it to thirty. Both agencies are giving a decisive importance, and as we supposed, a very inflated one at that, to the battle being waged at the east of Formosa. Tokyo radio arrived at fifty-three American ships sunk or damaged, twenty-thousand Americans killed, and one thousand planes shot down. The Manila news agency was more conservative, scattering flying leaflets in the streets and sending out a van through the city with streamers announcing the resounding victory.


September 21, 1944

[Note: after the last previous entry, April 20, 1942, the diary resumes at this point.]

U.S. planes bombed Manila this morning and afternoon. They came from the northeast like a hundred daggers stabbing through a cloudy sky. They were dark, thick-set, chunkily-built, short-winged, heavy-nosed birds. They had an ominous roar, that rose in an ever-deepening crescendo. They were flying confidently, serenely, masters of the tropic sky. They looked like eagles flying above old familiar haunts, searching for the hawks that once surprised them out of their nests. They were returning to their old home and in their wings they carried tons of revenge.

Mike and I were watching four Japanese planes simulating a dogfight while AA gunners fired smoke-shells at them. Then all of a sudden, Mike shouted: “Look!” He pointed a vast formation of light bombers. We started counting, 20, 40, 80, we gave up the idea. They were so many and they were coming from all directions. Then the AA guns started firing at them and the cannonading began to shake the house and the sky was filled with shell-bursts that looked like flowers blooming. But the planes flew on, on, on, steadily towards their objectives. Dad ran to the garden to watch the planes. They were flying in the direction of Nichols and Murphy. I ran to the window upstairs and I saw a sight that filled my heart with joy. Mike beside me had tears in his eyes. We saw those planes circling around Murphy and then one by one, they dove, dove, dove and the earth began to shake and the windows in my room started to rattle and then columns of smoke and flames rose from where they had dropped their cargoes. The girls ran to the air-raid shelter because by this time pieces of shrapnel were falling on the tennis court. A stray bullet pierced through the roof in grandpop’s room but no one was hurt. This was at 9:40 a.m. I looked at the time because I have been waiting for this sight for more than two years –since the bloody days of Bataan.

The planes came back again at 10, 10:30 and 11. Everybody at home was happy. “It won’t be long now.” Said Mike. The Japanese across the street were very nervous and the sentries ran to their houses to get their steel helmets. It was a funny sight.

In the afternoon, a Japanese soldier who spoke broken English came to the house. He said that the Pier area was bombed and rebombed and that two of his friends were killed. The poor soldier was very nervous and papa told me to give him a glass of water. But before I could get the water for him, the bombers were back again. Joe Meily and I climbed the roof of the garage and we watched them circling over the Bay area. They were flying very low but not a single Japanese plane came up to challenge them.

By night time, there were a dozen fires all around Manila. My aunt and cousins slept on the lower floor of their house “just in case they come again”. While I was just about to sleep, there was a very strong explosion that almost threw me out of bed. Vic says it may have been a time bomb. Then the phone rang. “At last, its fixed!” Says Vic. Bustamante was on the line. He reported that several people were killed in Quiapo by AA shrapnel. He also said that Manilans might have water by tomorrow morning as the Metropolitan Water District was doing its best to repair the broken pipes. I haven’t had a bath the whole day.


September 21, 1944

They have arrived!

At 9:30 in the morning and 2:30 in the afternoon, without any siren warnings to those who after so many exercises were caught unprepared, several squadrons of American planes appeared from the East. They came at a very high altitude. Then they descended, speeding past the clusters of bursting anti-aircraft shells until they were a few hundred meters from their targets releasing their bombs and returning to their formation, some gradually, other perpendicularly depending on how they were being trailed by barking anti-aircraft guns. Sometimes they were in a chain-like formation as they plunged into a dive, or they converged in several groups over their targets. They had set fire to a number of ships anchored at the Bay, and to planes at the Nichols airfield, Grace Park and San Juan del Monte—the four cardinal points of Manila. The American planes were either long or short or small in size. The bombs were likewise small, and did not produce as much noise as did the Japanese bombs, but the vibrations caused, and the shaking of floors and walls, were greater. The hum of the engines was ominous. I could not determine the speed. Anti-aircraft batteries creating a horrifying noise were scattered all throughout the city.

Damage was great. According to the press, a hundred civilians were killed. If the figure was correct, it did not include the hundreds of Filipino workers who, together with the Japanese soldiers, were killed in the airports and in the ships at the bay. Many were killed by the cascade of anti-aircraft shells, and others by the shells which exploded upon falling back to earth. There was a literal rain of bullets and shrapnel all over the city.

In the evening, fire was blazing in the Bay where the damaged ships were burning. The light and detonation of explosives could be seen and heard for many kilometers around, and the grand finale of one of the explosions was a little fantastic and moving, like an earthquake of an alarming intensity. The explosion was heard 90 kilometers away.


August 22-September 21, 1944

The partial blackout started on Aug. 22. There was an occasional practice air-raid alarm and one or two actual air-raid alarms during August and the early part of Sept.

From about Sept. 16 the Japanese were having anti-aircraft gun practice every morning and sometimes at night with dozens of searchlights. The blackout continued in effect.

On the morning of Sept. 21, the anti-aircraft were shooting at a towed target while a number of Japanese planes were circling and diving over the City and Harbor.

At about 9:20 a.m. a swarm of American planes appeared on the scene and blasted the plane and target from the air.

Suddenly the sky was full of American planes (est. 150-300). The bombing had gone 8 or 10 minutes before the air raid alarm sounded. We could see our planes dive through a curtain of anti-aircraft shells and release their bombs over their objectives. Two planes in particular made spectacular dives over Grace Park. After these planes had started two fires at that place they dived and strafed the field. The rattle of their machine guns could be plainly heard at Sto. Tomas.

Those two planes left and two more appeared and dived right into the smoke from the fires and when they pulled up another fire broke out.

The roar of exploding bombs and sharper rattle of anti-aircraft and machine guns was deafening.

Falling shell fragments and machine gun bullets were falling all over the compound. Two anti-aircraft shells exploded in the grounds.

The all-clear sounded at 11:30 a.m.

At about 2:45 p.m. more American planes came over. The air-raid signal did not sound until the bombing had been going on for some time.

We watched three planes bomb Camp Murphy. Several small fires started, probably trucks, as there was a motorpool in that neighborhood.

One of our planes was seen to explode over the waterfront. He had just gone into a dive and evidently a shell hit him and exploded the bombs as he went out in a flash.

Many fires were started in the bay, along the waterfront, Nichols Field and Neilson airport during the two raids. All clear went about 5:05 p.m.

One fire (evidently an ammunition dump or ship) burned until about 8:00 p.m. There were a number of small explosions and finally, with a flash that lit up the skies for miles around accompanied by a terrific explosion it went to kingdom come.

The City was blacked out all night but everything was quiet.