Skip to content

December 8-30, 1941

My dearest Mother and all,

I do not know just when you will receive this letter, but I know it will interest you and the folks to know what we have done since the outbreak of the war.

On December 8 (1941) we listened in on the radio as usual and when we heard the shocking news that Pearl Harbor was bombed, you can imagine our feelings of shock and disbelief! After breakfast Coné immediately went downtown and bought plenty of supplies; when he came home we began packing and by afternoon most of all our furniture had been taken to Dorothy’s (Bernas) house – even the birds were evacuated. As you know, they live in Jaro, a suburb of Iloilo City. That same day we all went to live with Dorothy and Meñing, who made room for us in their small two-bedroom house. We felt it was safer there than in the city.

As the days passed, we felt a little calmer until December 18. That morning I went with Coné to his office (in Iloilo). Ramon Lopez stopped by for his liver extract injection and remarked, “There is a rumor that Japanese planes are headed for Iloilo.” We did not pay much attention to this, as there are rumors every day.

At 12:15 p.m. we headed back for Jaro. During the course of our conversation while we were eating lunch, Meñing (Dorothy’s husband) said, “There is a report of enemy planes sighted and headed south for Iloilo or other places.” He had no sooner uttered these words when we heard a drone of motors. We immediately rushed out to see, but clouds were covering them and were a perfect camouflage. As they came closer and lower, we saw three formations – a total of 36 planes. We rushed for the shelter that Coné had prepared downstairs. The planes circled and began machine gunning over the Philippine Central College (3 miles from us) and flew over us. We could hear the bullets hit the roof. Then we heard bombs exploding – many targets were hit, but some objectives were missed. Fort San Pedro was missed, but a bomb fell on the road in front of the military hospital.

The hangar was a direct hit, two small planes were inside, a large one inside. Mr. Grant, one of the pilots, was taking his siesta when he heard the planes. He tried to get his plane up, but in doing so, he was terribly machine gunned, and the three planes were totally destroyed.

The Sacred Heart School was machine gunned and bombed and the Free School across the street from it for the poor children was a direct hit. Fortunately, the school was closed because of the war, but several nuns were wounded and a girl who lived with the nuns and a classmate of Dolly was killed. All the bombing seemed to be concentrated around the beach area and the oil deposits across from Dr. Ledesma’s house. The deposits were a direct hit, but most of the oil had been taken out. The railroad and round house was strafed, and instead of the men lying flat on the ground, they stood up and ran. Many were killed – around 24 or more, according to Mrs. Allen.

Yater Allen, his brother and the family made a dash in their car and made a run for our place, as I had met Yater the day before and told him Coné had made an air raid shelter at Dr. Bernas’s house.

Soon after the Allen’s arrival, Olive, Leon and the children came. Olive was the color of death as a bomb fell very close to their house. She was barefooted and did not have time to put on her shoes. When the bombing started they jumped into their car and started towards our house. After the bombing, the planes began to machine gun and strafe. They had to stop and get out of their car and run into a store for fear of being hit. Many people were caught on the main street and unprepared. Ed Mercado’s little nephew was killed; he was cut across the stomach and lived only for a few hours. Two of Ed’s sisters were also badly injured by flying debris. They are now both out of danger.

The owner of the “La Editorial” (Mr. Apellaniz) lost two of his children. They were playing in the yard when the bombing and strafing took place, and were badly cut up. The bombing took place mostly along the beach area, but the machine gunning was all over.

A little later after the Allen’s and Olive Tirol arrived at our house, along came Mr. Rodriguez and Pam (his wife) and the children. He was covered with blood as the little girl was cut by flying glass. Mr. Rodriguez thought it was the end as one bomb after another fell near his house. He and Pam were in a state of collapse.

We were so frightened that the planes would return, but there was no more bombing until December 30 and by that time most of the people had evacuated to the country.

So far Iloilo has been bombed four times. In the last three bombings, there had been no casualties as the people had learned their lesson and they were not going to be caught again.