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December 8, 1941

Feast of the Immaculate Conception and of the Ateneo de Manila. Mass started at seven in the morning. During the mass, someone approached Father Rector who was the celebrant, and said something to him. Father Rector turned around to address the congregation and announced that Japan had just bombed Pearl Harbor in Hawaii and that the United States had declared war on Japan.

After the mass, the school Commandant announced that all ROTC cadets were to stay. I was on my second year in college. We were to be interned right at the campus for intensive training and to await our disposition as a unit by General Douglas MacArthur.

About noon, the first air warning siren sounded. Some 30,000 feet high up in the sky, we saw a formation of silver planes. They looked beautiful. We took them to be American planes until we heard explosions. Port Area was being bombed. A number of cadets ran to the Port Area with their World War I Einfield rifles and started shooting at the planes. Japan was not going to bomb Manila with impunity.

I had hardly reached my brother’s home when I read from an “Extra” that Baguio, Stotsenberg (later renamed Clark Field) and Davao were bombed. Then I really got the jitters. I could not keep still. I had to do something to steel my nerves. Three packs of Camel cigarettes helped me do it. I passed the day helping my brothers’ families evacuate to the patriarchal home in Muntinlupa and reading the alarming “Extras”. I arrived in Muntinlupa at nine o’clock in the evening after a three-hour ride perched on a truck’s headlamp. The house was already filled with anxious relatives. Papa had invited all his relatives to move to the safer grounds of the NBP compound in Muntinlupa. There was Llilli with his wife Glory and their two children, Titang and her husband, Jess Paredes and their three children, and Tio Nonoy (Papa’s youngest brother) and his wife Liling (Cauwenbergh) and their child, Junior. Much later, the menagerie increased with the arrival of Tio Toñing (Papa’s brother) and his wife, Tia Nene and their son, Toñito who was a Philippine Air Corps pilot. Then came Tio Colasing (another brother of Papa) with Tia Maring and their children, Chiching and Milagros. Somehow, we all fit in the barracks.