Yesterday was hectic. Tremendous activity. Trucks roaring hither and yon, probably en route to the front which has been established (so someone told me over the phone) on the Bataan Peninsula. Big cars with huge flags rushed about. Speaking of cars, they finally got that Cadillac started after two days of work on it. They drove it around the block, hit a post and it is now lying on its back in front of the University Club, hurray! No collaborationist, that car. Believe the chauffeur was killed. These yellow boys surely can’t drive.
Complete blackout last night added to our misery. | have a lantern for every room in the house, so we don’t suffer too much. My boys said they heard the blackout was to cover troop movements. Sounds awfully military.
Today the entire staff returned. I sent some of them out shopping for food and essentials. White people are
forbidden to go in the streets. There are more than thirty employees and they must be fed as well as the few people in the house. I have an old stray Frenchman here who is giving me much anguish. His ship was blown up in the early part of December and he had no place to go and speaks no English. So I took him in. I don’t know what will become of all these Filipinos of mine when I get picked up. A good many of my friends have already been taken some place.
For a gal who is supposed to have many friends, I am surely alone—but alone. Everybody has his troubles and I can’t ask for help.
The Bay View Hotel is still full of trapped Americans and British. I phoned a friend there and he said he understood all white people were to be taken to a central spot, checked and tagged and released, all except those of military age. I fear that’s too good to be true. Anyhow, we are awaiting our turn. In the meantime, I am checking stocks, making menus and lists. I’ll let Leopoldo and the cook carry on, for a while at least, after I go.
The first newspaper appeared today under our new “Protectors.” It stated we are to use war money put out by the Japanese Military Government, equivalent in value to the peso, and that everyone must use it. All American dollars are to be turned in for exchange. Pesos to be used, and all change given in military money. Trouble’s ahead.
It’s the little things that are the most dreadful. The garbage and street-cleaning services have been suspended, and this is a tropical city. So I got the staff out in the street in front of the kitchen and we started to burn up the trash and clean up our street. So we look fairly tidy.
I’ll bet I’m the only woman in Manila who ever got any work out of a Jap these last days. While we were burning trash and garbage in the street today a Japanese soldier on guard began reproving us. I finally got the
idea that he felt we were building our fires too close to a car, and for us to move the pile. So I screamed at him, “Move it yourself, then,” and handed him a shovel, motioning toward the bonfire. He was so startled and so accustomed to taking orders, that he actually leaned his gun against the car and shoveled a load. Immediately
my boys started roaring with laughter which made the soldier realize what he had done. So he flung the shovel
down and shuffled off, muttering, forgetting his gun leaning against the car. Still laughing, one of my boys ran after him to tell him about his gun; they didn’t dare touch it, of course. It’s a wonder he didn’t shoot us all, he was so embarrassed.
Rumor has it that some people have been taken to Villamor Hall, others to Rizal Stadium. One load, at least, I heard by the phone, went to Santo Tomas, a huge university on the other side of town. They are all being told to pack food, and clothing, and bedding for three days, whatever that indicates.
This afternoon they moved all the Americans and British into the street in front of the Bay View, and began hauling them away in trucks. They made them stand in the sun from one o’clock on, and I think the first truck moved at two-thirty. I stood in the dining room window of the restaurant, behind the iron grills, watching my friends being taken away. About all I could do was to hand out a few Coca Colas, cigarettes, and ice water, and dig up a few necessities that people had forgotten, such as soap and mosquito nets, It was a heartbreaking sight. They all had as much luggage as they could carry—and more—and most of them had a blanket and pillow. They had some food, but the hotel stocks were low by this time. I handed out a lot of tinned meat to people who had nothing. They looked bewildered and unhappy but no one showed any fear, and many of them joked with each other about the whole situation. The Japanese can’t understand that, of course. I was very proud of them, holding up their heads so proudly, ignoring the Japanese as if they were scum. Which they are.
I’ve been spending most of the time making up packages for the people who live in the house to take with them. There are two young miners, an elderly couple from Baguio who were caught in town here, Mr. P————— , my old Frenchman, and I. We worked systematically, putting in food complete with salt, pepper, bread, butter, tins of meat, vegetables and jam, trying to get the most food value in the least space. I packed several big duffel bags of food extra, thinking I can talk the Japs into letting me take in a lot of foodstuff for the common good, even if I have to give them something, too. We made bundles of dishes, silver, blankets, mosquito nets, pillows, etc. I mistrust this three-day business, though. After all, we kept the Japanese and Germans locked up for quite a time until it was evident that we ourselves had lost and the Japs were victorious. I’m afraid. I’ll try to take some books in. Put a book in each package.
When they got to my house at six-thirty in the evening, I had fed the family a good dinner. Those poor
Bay View people had just been finished. There were many loads of them. I left last-minute instructions with
the cook and Leopoldo about carrying on, leaving money, menus, keys, etc. I was taking a good sum of money with me which I hoped I could keep. We waited the end—the coming of the tumbrils, so to speak—aided by a bottle of champagne. Thought we might as well take off in a blaze of glory.
When they arrived I presented my list of penstonnaires, together with our papers, to the interpreter and the Japanese officers with him. All of us, except the old Frenchman, were American. The Japanese interpreter,
being an old Manila resident—a little photographer in the neighborhood to whom I had sent many customers
for passport pictures—knew me and insisted that since André was French, I, of necessity, followed his nationality. I protested this, but they assured me it was only for a few days and I’d be foolish to leave the restaurant to the mercy of possible looters or soldiers— ‘‘Although,” said the interpreter, “Japanese soldiers are very well disciplined, but they might take food.” The officers agreed that I should stay, saying it was “Japanese law that lady take nationality of husband.” That’s the case in France, too, but I’d always kept an American passport.
How I wish I’d gone, though. What can I do alone—and so alone. My whole future—what’s the use of thinking about a future? Guess I have a wonderful future behind me! Will this last long? Something tells me it won’t be over for months. If I were the War College, I’d say to H—— with the Philippines and win the war in the most expedient fashion.
We haven’t much news. They haven’t forbidden radios yet but have ordered all antennas removed, which means no short wave, practically. I can get Australia on mine but I am somewhat afraid to monkey with it. The Japanese-edited newspaper is already threatening to shoot ten hostages for every sentry (Japanese) injured, and making “the spreading of rumors contrary to the Imperial Japanese Army’s well-being”’ punishable by death. Better keep still!
It is midnight. I shall go to bed with some beer and a book, trusting in my faith in the Great I Am—and I know that’s worth trusting.