Typhoon is over, the sun is up again and the sky has brightened to a clear blue. The bird that perches on the tree near my window is there again, fluttering its wings and in a while I’m sure it’ll begin to twitter.
No planes this morning. Everybody was expecting them today because they’ve visited us every Sunday morning for the last three weeks. We woke up early this morning because we thought the planes were sure to come. There were many people in Church and everybody hurried home because “they’ll come around breakfast time”.
Instead of the planes came bad news. Ramon Araneta who was brought to Fort Santiago two nights ago died in one of the dungeons. The Japs called up his daughter and said that she could take her father’s corpse. Mrs. Araneta does not know that her husband has died. All Manila knows about this “sudden” death. Everybody thinks that Ramon was tortured. The Japs went up to his house at midnight, searched every nook and corner, every drawer, behind portraits and tapped the panels and floors, questioned his wife, daughters and servants. They they told Ramon to dress up and they took him with them. I was in their house yesterday and three Japs investigated one of Ramon’s maids and they brought her to Fort Santiago also.
This death has shocked Manilans and if the Japs think this will intimidate the people, they are very mistaken. The reaction has been the contrary. More young men want to go to hills. Vengeance is in every heart. His burial will probably look like a demonstration as Ramon is very well known. His death is the fourth in a row. First, Teddy Fernando; then Almazan; recently Preysler, whose wrists and ribs were smashed; and now –Ramon Araneta. Conversation now-a-days is nothing but of Jap atrocities. The greatest propaganda agency for America is not the Voice of Freedom or KGEI or Free Philippines but Fort Santiago.
General impression downtown is that the Leyte invasion has bogged down because of the typhoon and mud and arrival of Jap reinforcements. Some think Luzon liberation will begin only after Leyte has been completely liberated. Others insist that Mac will “pocket” Japs in Ormoc and then “hop” on to Manila.
Meanwhile, Japs are getting stricter, more brutal and desperate. Filipinos have to submit to the indignity of being searched by Jap sentries in almost every street corner. Fort Santiago has arrested many Bataan and Corregidor veterans. They are alarmed at reports of enthusiastic collaboration of Filipino populace in Leyte and Samar and great activities of guerrilla units. It is not an uncommon sight to see dead bodies thrown in public highways. Four days ago, a naked corpse with ten bayonet stabs was sprawled in the small plaza between the Legislative Building and City Hall.
Food situation is getting more acute. Yesterday, a man entered the house and he was thin, haggard, skeletal, with a wound on his feet. He asked for “a little rice or soup or anything”. More such walking-corpses can be seen all over Manila as Jap trucks speed through streets loaded with sacks of rice and vegetables.
Many Jap soldiers in Manila now, probably getting ready to move to battle areas. Some reinforcements to Leyte are being sent to Sorsogon where they go on small launches to Ormoc or Carigara. Very few Jap trucks in City. Soldiers walk. Army men now wear their battle uniforms, steel helmets and camouflage-nets. They stop cars, rigs, bicycles. They confiscate all forms of transportation. The Jap Army is desperate. It has its back against the wall. But before they go hungry, the civilian population will have to suffer first. Hope lies in Mac. Come on America!