On Monday morning, December 8 (it was still Sunday, December 7, in the U.S.), I was up early because my husband was out of town on business and I had gone to bed with the children the night before after a five o’clock supper with them in the nursery. I turned on the radio for the daily 6:15 a.m. news broadcast. My world collapsed. “The U.S. is at war with Japan,” the announcer said as calmly as though telling the daily account of news of the battlefronts of Europe. He then told of the attack on Pearl Harbor. I went to the telephone to call my husband in Manila to ask him how this would affect us, and to ask him not to wait to return the next day as planned, but on the plane today, if possible. Telephone connections between the Islands had been closed to all except the army. At 10:00 a.m. a telegram from my husband sending money transfer and three words to torment me for days of waiting, “Other telegram follows.” At noon I heard over the radio that Manila, Baguio, and Davao, in the Philippines, had been bombed. Then telegraphic lines as well as telephone connections were closed to civilians.
There was absolute panic in Bacolod, Negros Occidental, where I was living, the only American-born woman in a foreign community. My husband had called me from the Manila Hotel on the Friday before. It was my birthday, and he had telephoned to greet me and to say that he had a nice surprise for me.
“An Ormosolo [Amorsolo] painting?” I queried, for we had talked of a portrait of a typical Filipino by this most famous of Philippine artists. We wished to put it over the servette in dining room.
“No, something easier to bring home, but something you want as much,” he replied.
How often I’ve wondered about my birthday gift. What did I want? I could not remember having asked for anything. Jim always loved to surprise me with gifts.