October 23, 1944

It’s five days since I’ve last written because I’ve been too excited. So many happy things have taken place which you’ve probably heard. They’ve been very unexpected but certainly most welcome.

Well, first there’s the landing in Leyte. The consensus was that they would land in Mindanao or perhaps Luzon so Leyte was quite a surprise. The Japs have admitted the landing but they’re trying to belittle it. Its been placed in a small corner of the front page. A lot of emphasis is being placed on the Taiwan affair. They’re tooting their horn about the aircraft carriers sunk, which to me is plain baloney. It seems they even had a sort of victory parade in Tokyo. People here think the Jap leaders are pulling the wool over the eyes of the Japs and that ought to be easy because they’re chinky-eyed.

What really was a great surprise was the res-establishment of the Commonwealth Gov’t on Philippine soil. I’m not a very sentimental guy, but when I heard Osmeña and Romulo and Valdes and the rest were already in the Philippines, I wept like a kid. And when I repeated the story of how Mac landed to Dad, his eyes got moisty.

Everybody is jubilant these days. When you walk the streets, people greet you with “Have you heard? They’re here.”

The question now is when will they land in Luzon? When will they be here in Manila? Most pessimistic version is that they’ll be here around the 31st of January. Conservative estimate is one month. I think that if they land in Batangas, they can be here in a week. But I think I’m letting my anxiety get the best of me.

Anyway, there’s one thing definite, certain, they’re going to be here and it’ll be very soon. Quite anxious to see Baby and Nini. Gee, I wish their old man pulled through. Sometimes I think he’s still alive.

Yes, men like him, never die. He is the greatest man I’ve met.

It’s raining right now. A lot of people think the weather is keeping the Americans from attacking Luzon. Darn this rain…

Trains are loaded with Jap soldiers. Emilio says they’re going to the Bicol regions. They expect landings there. In the provinces, all forms of transportation are being commandeered. They take even push carts. Saw several carromatas and calesas in a Jap truck. How can such a poorly equipped army win this war?

I’m going to hear the radio now. Somebody said you can hear the Voice of Freedom again.

Mr. Paier, a Swiss, came to the house excitedly just now. He said he got a report that landings have been effected in Aparri, hooray. Pop thinks this is just “rumor”. I told James, my Chinese neighbor. He jumped with joy. “They better come quick,” he said, “because rice is now at ₱5,000”. I said “Don’t worry, they’ll be here by November 15th”. I’m crossing my fingers.

I can hear the roar of planes this very moment. Nope, they’re Jap. Their planes have a funny roar, kind of metallic and desynchronized. They’re flying very high though…


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?


October 1, 1944

These days, everything is haywire. Telephones don’t work. Newspapers arrive three to four days later. No gas-men nor refrigerator mechanics nor electrician when you need them. Life is getting harder day by day. Dad’s car has no battery and he can’t get a new one. There’s hardly any more alcohol for the car. And the whiskey I drank yesterday must have been some sort of a poison for my head still aches. If the Philippines is not liberated before the year ends, we will all be at the end of the rope and then God knows what kind of a life we will eke out!


September 27, 1944

I don’t know whether to laugh or to mourn but the puppets among us are still trying to show that we really have independence around here and that we are free and that we are running the show in these islands. No. 1 puppet, Jose Laurel, gave a speech over the radio and he paraphrased Lincoln’s “United we stand; divided we fall” speech. Then he appointed deputy governors and other officials to suit the tempo of the martial law he has enforced in this country through the courtesy of Japanese bayonets and guns. But what is the use of all this puppet-show, this stage-lighting, this silly act that fools nobody but themselves? Everybody knows that what counts in the Philippines today is not what Filipino officials say but what the Japanese officers dictate. Laurel is nothing but an echo, a human microphone with eye-glasses and an ability to make a pretense. He probably thinks he is fooling the Filipino people with his repeated affirmations that there is going to be no conscription. But that doesn’t pull the wool over anybody’s eyes. Everybody knows well enough that the Japs don’t want to arm the Filipinos for the plain and simple reason that their heads are not going to stay on their necks if they give our countrymen bayonets and guns. Oh well, why bore you with the stupid acts of our puppets? The less said of them, the better…

Saw a heart-breaking scene today. A young fellow knocked at our door and then collapsed. My cousin revived him with water and food. He had tears in his eyes and he said that he had not eaten for days. This is just the beginning. Hungry days are fast approaching. Food supply is getting very low. Very few things are being sold at the market and at sky-high prices. An egg costs more than ₱7.00; a ganta of rice around ₱160; and if something happens to the water-reservoir, even water will probably be sold. Ate nothing but canned goods today. Beans, sardines and a little rice. Its good Mama and Papa thought of stocking up canned stuff for lean days and it’s good too that the canned goods have not deteriorated. The stuff we have were bought before the war when the slogan of the CEA was “Make every home an arsenal of food”.

Got to close this letter now. Joe’s waiting for me. We intend to bike around town. Santa Cruz and Tondo churches have been taken by the Japanese. Atop the tower of Quiapo church, there are AA guns. Tio Gabriel said that the Cathedral had been filled with ammunition. Oh well, what can you expect from these people? And then, I suppose, they’ll cry like babies and tell the world that the Americans have bombed churches, if U.S. planes drop a few sticks on these ancients relics! Manila may yet be another Cassino.

P.S.

Curfew has been advanced to 8 o’clock. Some say 7 o’clock. Its hard to verify. The sentries don’t talk in English except in their native, savage Japanese. There are no newspaper that reach this district. The Tribune newsboy delivers the papers only when feels like. And all the telephones –for civilians– are out of order.


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 22, 1944

Didn’t know we still had baloney these days until I read the Tribune. It was crying out loud about Filipinos being angry due to the inhuman acts of American aviators.

More baloney: Laurel declares the Philippines under martial law. The problem with our puppet president is that he doesn’t leave his room in Malacañang. If he only took the trouble of going downtown, he’ll know who’s running this country. You can’t walk around without showing some piece of paper with Japanese scrawl to hundreds of Japanese soldiers posted in every street corner. If that isn’t martial law then what is!

The Americans came back this morning again with more bombs, hooray. They dove at all the ships in the Bay area and they destroyed Piers 3, 5 and 7. The tower of the Customs Building has disappeared and the warehouses at Malecon Drive were wiped out by incendiaries.

U.S. planes flew very low over the heart of Manila. Two planes circled below the dome of Binondo Church. People waved handkerchiefs at them and the aviators coolly waved back. Japanese sentries looked on sullenly. The happy incident was marred by Philippine Constabulary soldiers at the Oriente Building who machinegunned the low-flying planes under orders from Japanese soldiers. The bombers circled around the Oriente Building, headquarters of the Constabulary, dropped two incendiary bombs and flew off.

Far Easter University and San Beda College which are being used as garrisons by the Japanese troops were also strafed. Several civilians were hit by stray bullets but more deaths were caused by the anti-aircraft guns of the Japanese.

Joe Meily said a ship near the Boulevard was hit by a bomb and a lot of hundred-peso bills were blown to the shore. Some of the bills reached Ermita and Malate and the people scrambled for them.

The Japanese are taking their supplies out of the piers because they expect more bombings. They’re quite sad about the fact that their planes don’t even go up to challenge the Americans.

There were no bombs dropped this afternoon. Maybe they’re resting. Joe was disappointed.

This is bad news. We’re going to leave our house. The Japs are taking it. They said “So sorry” to Dad’s appeal. Mama is crying. I told her to stop. “Anyway ma,” I explained, “We will get the house back in a few months. They’ll be here soon.”

Am very tired. Perhaps due to the excitement of the last two days. But it doesn’t matter. My heart is happy.


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 31, 1942

Read a Guerillero’s poem. Somebody left it in my desk. Perhaps there are guerilleros in the office:

SOMEDAY

Someday, someday, I’ll live again,

I’ll sing again,

A song with freedom’s ring again.

My heart I’ll give again,

I’ll love again.

Beneath the moon above again.

But now I must flight,

For country and right,

Guerillero is the name for me

And my job to strike for liberty.

For the foe at one dark command,

From sky and shore

Swept down on our native land

And it’s ours no more.

o come and tramp with me

To right this hideous wrong with me.

Oh come and camp with me

Up to the hills with me

 And strike with me a blow for liberty


July 27, 1942

 

A Japanese civilian came to my office. He spoke arrogantly, bluffingly, threateningly. He wanted one of my rent houses. I showed him that I was not afraid of him. I asked for his name. And when I started dialing for the Military Police, he backed out and changed his tune.

Told Lolita of the incident. She was very nervous.