A fine New Year’s Day—with a faint tinge of hangover and the Japs, like Sheridan, only twenty miles away—more or less. Mostly less. I understand they are doing an Alphonse et Gaston act—can’t decide which general should have the honor of capturing us. With all our anxiety I had to laugh at this morning’s Bulletin headlines:
NORTH AND SOUTH USAFFE LINES UNITED
Sounded almost good, except that it actually means the southern line has been rushed to Bataan, leaving
the south entrance to Manila wide open.
I whipped up a brew of eggnog this morning early. Might as well carry on. That’s what the “Royal Family” told us to do before they fled. About noon I went up to Hi’s apartment where some of the old guard had gathered. We had champagne and Sparkling Burgundy and from the penthouse terrace watched the harbor patrol blow up the private yachts anchored off the Yacht Club.
Rumor surpassing rumor right now. This afternoon I was told to destroy all my liquor, that the clubs and hotels were all doing it, and that I would be jeopardizing the life, liberty and virtue and what have you of all Manila by not so doing. That the little yellow rascals would drink liquor, murder, rape and ruin and rob us all—probably in reverse order. I seem to have mixed the sequence. In other words, it would be a repetition of Nanking. And so I did—poured down the drains thousands of pesos of vintage wines and whiskies. I kept out a little for private use, however, and sent some Burgundy to the house of a Swedish friend who is sure to be safe, as he is acting consul for Sweden.
The quartermaster and customs buildings have been bombed many times and are now on fire. The enormous
quantities of supplies of every imaginable sort are strewn in the open. Evidently more or less official permission has been given to go in and help oneself, for the public is having a fine time taking stuff away. I drove by there this afternoon. It is a horrible sight, and I forsee much trouble if the Filipinos get a taste for wholesale looting, for that is what this all is. I bought from a lad in the street twelve needle-point chair backs for P1.50, evidently from a stock on a ship which has been blown up, but no wool to work them; otherwise I’d have my concentration camp work all ready, whipping up covers for a future dining-room set.
Today I picked up the first leaflet I have actually seen dropped by Japanese planes, although there have been many. It was simply a picture of a dreadful old man, evidently representing Fate, with a huge scythe, and the caption in English was “Destiny.”
I am exhausted. I don’t know why I continue to write this. Pepys wasn’t much more prolific than I! The blazing oil dumps of Pandacan are burning, so that the fuel will not fall into Japanese hands. That conflagration, together with the burning piers, is lighting the sky so that it now seems bright daylight. People cannot go to bed. The group still left in my house are huddled in the cocktail lounge, waiting, waiting. I hope the Japanese wait until morning. I understand they are still quarreling as to which army comes in first, north or south.