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December 29, 1941

The open city idea isn’t working. We sat yesterday under three hours and twenty minutes of constant bombing, formations of nine planes being always in the air. It took well-nigh a hundred shots to sink one freighter in the bay; two boats they attacked repeatedly they never did sink. They polished off a church while aiming at the bridge, and did a tremendous amount of property damage, even though the army matériel has all been moved out or destroyed. It’s enraging, maddening, to see and hear them circle the city to get in the choicest position to bomb, and we sit like clay-pigeon targets below, completely helpless, with not one answering gun. Open city! Nip ideas make funny.


Everybody has his own ideas of fun. Yesterday during the raid I had insisted that the Filipino staff sit inside the ring of sandbags we had put around the wainscoting of the middle dining room. They won’t stay quiet unless I do. The raid, a heavy one, had begun just before noon, and nearly everyone in the cocktail lounge had fled to the very good shelter across the street in the Bay View Hotel: I dislike closed-up places, so I never bother to go over there. I think the sandbags are about as much protection as any bomb shelter and not so smelly. I thought I’d be cautious yesterday. The bombs were falling very close. The Filipino boys were squatting on the floor, and I was lying on the floor with an old whodunit story, a powder puff between my teeth for concussions, and a bottle of San Miguel beer beside me. Some wag of a customer who had chosen to stay with his lunch was sitting on the floor eating, back to the sandbags. He took a candid camera shot of me in that pose. I’m not awfully photogenic in any pose but that will be terrific. I’ll have to keep him in onion soup for the duration, as he’ll probably blackmail me.

And so to bed, weary but unbowed. Fires are still raging, but the casualties were only about fifty.