December 16, 1944

I went biking yesterday to see the effect of the bombing yesterday and to hear the comments of the people.

Streets were empty. Traffic was paralyzed. Army trucks and cars moved around with camouflage nets. Many sentries posted in street corners.

42 civilians were wounded in Parañaque. Saw them in corridors of the P.G. Hospital. Most of them were hit by Jap A.A. shells which fell short.

Raid yesterday was non-stop –from morning to afternoon. I saw fires burning in the direction of Grace Park and Nichols and Murphy and McKinley.

People from San Juan say that a low-flying plane strafed a Jap truck crossing the bridge killing 4 persons. Consensus of opinion is that much damage was done to military installation.

Last night, conversation was on probability of landings. Some believe Americans have landed already somewhere in Luzon.

Heard three big explosions last night –one at 2 o’clock also.

Raid again.

N.B.

Vic and Neneng wounded. A Jap shell landed near the house. Yesterday 3 exploded but no one was injured.


December 16, 1944

Bullets or shrapnel pierced our roof. Entered just opposite daughter Neneng’s chair in the dining room. Vic and I were seated at the table. Neneng, Dolly and the maid Emilia bringing in breakfast. A sudden noise, splashing and scattered timber splinter. Emilia crying.

Wounded slightly: Emilia, Neneng, Vic. Emilia: half a dozen superficial wounds of varying length from one to two inches on left forearm, outer side and on right leg. Neneng: small splintered wound on right eyelid and a larger one on right forearm. Vic: a burnt scar the size of a 20-cent piece. Emilia cried. Neneng thought she was blind and Vic limped, thinking he was severely wounded. Dolly, who herself had an eighth-of-an-inch scratch near her left ear, dressed them all…

Debris: the roof was pierced by two circular openings the size of 50-centavo pieces. One and one-half meter by 10 inch wide of the ceiling fell and numerous splintered wood all over the table, dining room and sala.

The bullet went through the floor.

Unexploded cannon bullet 3 meters back of the garage. It was 2-3/4 inch diameter and 12 inches long, I don’t know whether it’s still live. If it isn’t, I want to keep it as souvenir… The Japanese told a neighbor that the raiders hit an ammunition dump nearby and the explosion sent the bullets flying. Thus we are in the dangerous path of raiders en route to hit targets in San Juan, Quezon City, Wack Wack, Neilson, McKinley and Nichols.

 


October 31, 1944

It’s three in the afternoon. Vic’s listening to the radio. Papa is reading Willoughby’s Maneuvers in War; Neneng is cooking; Lolo sleeping and Dolly is looking at the planes from the window. There are many planes flying but they’re Japs. You can tell by the metallic desynchronized roar of the engines. There’s one plane flying very low. It passed directly on top of the house. There was a time –just after Bataan when I would dive on the floor when I hear a plane. I must’ve been bomb-shocked but I didn’t realize it.

Received a letter from a friend in Baguio. She wrote it a week ago. There are no more mail deliveries. If you want to send a letter, you’ve got to look for some fellow who’s going up or down from Baguio who’ll be kind enough to play postman for you.

Went downtown this morning. I was soaked wet by the damned rain. It’s been raining since yesterday afternoon. There seems to be a weak typhoon somewhere. Saw carromatas being commandeered by Japs in Avenida Taft. Heard too that Tio Charlie’s car was taken by Jap soldiers somewhere in Tarlac. He was evacuating to Baguio because the Japs took his house. Saw Feling Avellana who was trying to sell his wife’s ring. “I need it for food”, he explained. Life’s getting tougher these days.

The Tribune says the Americans are shelling Lamon Bay. That’s about 60 miles from Manila in a straight line. Why don’t they hurry up because this waiting and waiting is killing me? Somebody told me the suspense is like waiting for the bride to appear in Church. Saw Emilio on my way home. He was looking at the map.

I can hear the sound of blasting somewhere in the direction of McKinley. I’ m afraid the Japs are planting mines.

Heard the G8s have been tipped to expect landings on either the 3rd or 4th.

Listened to broadcasts from Leyte to America by the different newspapermen there. Liked Cliff Roberts’ “personal report”. Time had a good story on the naval battle off Leyte Bay. Courtney had a good report on the rehabilitation work in Leyte.

P.S.

Heard that Romulo gave a nationwide instruction to the Filipino people. It was short, dramatic: WORK OR FIGHT!

There are no more planes flying. The sky is also beginning to brighten up. No more rain. I hope the typhoon blows far out of here and then maybe they can commence landings in Luzon.


October 29, 1944

Went to Mass with Mama and Neneng at 6:30. It was still dark. We didn’t bow before the sentry and he said nothing. Maybe he was in a happy mood. The Japs are in a happy mood. Their Propaganda Corps has been telling them for the last four days of great naval victories in Sulu Sea. Our Jap neighbors were drinking and feasting last night and shouting “Banzai! Banzai!”. Right now I can hear the radio saying something about outstanding victories in the waters east of the Philippines and that the American fleet is almost entirely crippled. Now he is boasting that MacArthur’s troops are stranded on Leyte. (Wait, I hear the roar of planes, many planes)

I can’t see them but I’m sure there are planes above. Maybe they are Japanese. There have been no raids these last four days. Some people are quite disappointed though many say that its just the lull before the storm. I’ve been trying to take bets that there will be landings in Luzon before the 7th or 15th and no one wants to call. The Japanese however interpret this lull as proof of the sinking of many aircraft carriers in Philippine waters. In fact, I can hear the radio saying this very thing right now. “The complete absence of raids in Manila for the last four days is proof,” he says, “of the crippling of the American Navy in the waters of…..” (Wow. That sounded like a bomb. More bombs. Yes, I can see planes diving at Nichols Field. Yes, that’s the direction of Nichols Field. There are hundreds of planes, Papa and Mama and Neneng are running to the shelter. My gosh, Vic and Dolly are in Church. The Japs have been surprised again. Now the siren is giving the air-raid alarm, late again. The poor commentator has to eat his words. Now the AA guns are barking. But the planes don’t seem to mind. They keep on attacking the airfields and the Pier areas. Now I can hear machine guns, strafing probably. There’s not a single Jap plane intercepting. The Japs in the next house are now very silent. I can see them crouching in their foxholes. The Filipino boys in the fields behind the house are watching the planes and they are smiling. I got to leave now, AA shrapnels are falling nearer and nearer the house. I think I heard several drop on the cement pavement near the garage. Yes, Ma is calling for me. She gets nervous if all her chickens aren’t around her. I can hear more strafing. And there goes a big bomb. It shook the whole house. This is a pretty long raid. There goes another bomb and another…… Wish I could tell that radio commentator “So you’ve sunk all their carriers?”

P.S.

Raid’s over. Now I can see Jap planes flying, four of them. They are flying very low. Still no radio. I’ve got to have our short wave fixed. The only trouble is they might inspect this house and this is no time to get imprisoned, not when liberation is almost at hand. Oh I guess I’ll take a chance. They say Mr. Romulo gave a swell speech the other day. Tear jerking, said a friend.


October 24, 1944

There are bombers flying. Nope, they’re pursuit planes, plenty of them, about fifty. They’re up too early, I think. Ben’s looking at them and he says they’re Japs. Yes, I think he is right. I can hear that familiar metallic roar. Tia Mameng is nervous. She says there’s an air-raid signal. “I heard the siren”, she is telling Papa. The old man is still sleepy and he is saying “You can be sure there won’t be any bombing.” “why not,” Tia Mameng is asking. “Jap planes don’t go up when there’s a raid and they’re up now.” Vic is opening the radio to verify. Now, its not a raid. They’re playing a boogie number, “In the Mood” I think. Wait… I think that was an AA I just heard. Yes, siree, the guns are firing at something. It’s a raid, and the Japs have been surprised again. The radio is still playing “In the Mood”. Wow, I can see U.S. planes right here from the porch where I am typing. There goes five, ten, twenty, wow… so many…. heading for the Bay area. Now the house is shaking but they’re bombing the other side of Manila so I can still type. I want to give you a blow by blow description of this thing. Nope, change my mind. It’s getting too close. This blow-by-blow story might end up with this bum blowing up too.

P.S.

The radio announcer is excited. “There is an air-raid,” he says. There goes the siren giving the air-raid alarm. Caught asleep again, heh, heh.


October 18, 1944

I don’t know what history books will write about this day. Maybe they’ll put it down as the beginning of the offensive for the reconquest of the Philippines. Or probably they’ll note it as just the 7th day of the naval attack on Taiwan with diversionary raids on the Philippines. To me it’s the day I had a narrow escape. A machine gun bullet struck our shelter, fortunately on the concrete side. If it had hit an inch higher, it would have penetrated the thin wooden panel and I wouldn’t be writing this now.

I don’t know how many U.S. planes raided Manila today. They looked plenty and I didn’t have time to count because AA shrapnel started raining around our garden. By the drone and by the glimpse I had, I judged there were at least a hundred.

October 18 to this tramp means nothing but several hours in the air-raid shelter, Mama nervous about Vic who refused to take cover, Neneng praying the rosary, grandpop smoking a cigar, Dad going in and out of the shelter to take a look and then to hurriedly run in when the earth begins to shake, and the dog trying to squeeze into the shelter.

Tio Charlie finally got a pass to go to Baguio. They’re all packed but they can’t get alcohol for the jitney. The Hoodoboo promised to give them but so far the promise has not been fulfilled, as most Jap promises.

It’s been raining the whole day. It’s a wonder the U.S, planes were able to fly over. Pop says the seas are very rough on days like this. The laborers who were piling Mr. Paer’s galvanized iron under the house were very happy when they saw the planes. They were scared when the shrapnel started to rain but there’s no Filipino who isn’t willing to put up with a little suffering, a little hardship in order to see the Rising Sun torn down from the flagpole.

Grandpop thinks the raids won’t stop anymore until the day of liberation. I think so too. Mama thinks “it’ll be later yet”. Mening thinks or rather hopes the Americans will pulverize Japan so we can just be freed by agreement –the easy way out. Others think these are just diversionary raids. Main objective of the fleet at present is Taiwan. Others don’t think anything. What do you think?


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 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 no.” 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 haben’t had a bath the whole day.


July 8, 1942

Mr. Toyama, a very nice, educated Japanese, employee of Mitsui, will teach the family Japanese, twice a week in the evenings. My son Vic refused to study. He said “It’ll be a dead language, after this war.” I told him: “You don’t lose anything by studying Japanese.”

Naric Inspection Division will now survey the makers of “Puto” and “bibingka” on a large scale. Naric will sell binlid directly to those large-scale makers.

Went home early. Listened to KGEI but there was too much static.