As I was finishing coffee at lunch, trying to get some kind of news from the rad ning coffee at lunch, trying to get some kind of news from the radio except “everything is under control,” I heard a car stop and someone running down the stone steps. It was “Blondie” Barker, an American engineer at the mines. He came in the door, took my hand and said, “I’ve come to say good-bye, Pete,” He was smiling a little but so serious and deeply moyed that he was breathless.
I faltered “Good-bye? Where are you going?” and hung on to his hand. He answered, fiercely proud. “To Corregidor. I’m going to fight for my country.”
For the first time, it came home to me that the radio was only stalling, though underneath had been that feeling of France falling again as the street was still a trek of natives carrying bundles out—anywhere.
I suggested a cup of coffee but Blondie said Mike was Waiting in the car and they must go at once. We said so little and looked so much. He was to be in charge of some mine-tunnel workers. I went to the porch for a last
handshake and waved to them as they leaned out the window, the car sliding slowly down Outlook Drive. Like a host of others, they looked really happy to be doing something, not waiting, but into action at last. They looked
awfully young and serious as young people do, I called “We’ll be seeing you!” and so it goes now. Every day brings changes and we live one day at a time. Only four days ago when he drank beer with us on the shelter roof,
we didn’t know it would be our last visit together—for some months at least.
Dr. Abellerra said all his patients went to the mountains after the first attack and he had almost no calls. Now his patients are flocking back and he hasn’t a quiet moment, there are so many calls. As in an earthquake, people instinctively feel they must go somewhere. Those who went far up the trail have returned in order not to be cut off from food if the roads are blown, so they would have been better off “to stay put” in the first place. Jerry asked if I would like to take the children up the Baguio Mountain Trail to a less exposed place and I said definitely No and | still think this was right. It was really panicky to move at all. We will try to send Mother a cable from our dugout at Christmas. We have a turkey on ice at the Cold Store and will share it with some holiday guests even if it is our last big splurge.
One of our English friends decided to while away hours between alarms by having a permanent wave. Those in the hotel shelter say it was a wonderful sight to see her appear with her hair standing up like a Gorgon’s head each time the siren went off. At the market one sees Igorots with bolo knives on the hip or a lowlander with huge crossbow and arrows, ready to carve anything that bails out. I can’t help thinking of the mothers and wives back in Japan who will never know what happened to their men in the Philippine attack. It is not being soft—just that women’s roles are always the same, anywhere.
This is bringing out the best—and the worst—in people, and we truly see of what stuff each acquaintance is made. It is interesting—when we have time to think about it or talk it over in the evening in blackout. Kalinga province has declared its independent war on the Japanese and Is out in force, with bolos, back to primitive defense and loyalty to the land. There is personal courage and stamina, people plugging along heroically in everyday habits that require strength of will just to stick to the hourly grind.