We have been here for 1 month. This nipa hut we are staying in is very well concealed and off of any paths. It is on a hill and we have a view of surrounding areas and hills. The dogs and angora cats love it as they have such a big space in which to run.
Every day we hear rumors and we cannot believe all, but we know it to be the truth that Dr. Caram was caught in Iloilo and compelled to work for the Japanese.
The Japanese have sent out circular letters to all the barrios for the people to return to the towns and cities. However, once you return it is very difficult to leave. If you are seen carrying any bundles you are shot on sight. The conditions in Iloilo are terrible, half of the city has been burned by the USAFFE (U.S. Army in the Far East) and the Philippine Army, so the Japanese are concentrated mainly in Jaro. They are occupying the large homes – Mr. Montinola, the Lizares mansion, and others. The water system has been destroyed twice and the men that are in concentration camps are carrying water.
The Iloilo Mission Hospital which had transferred to Calinog in the early days of the war has gone back to Iloilo and Dr. Porras is still the director. The Philippine Army considers him a collaborator and an order has been sent out to shoot him on sight, and also Tering Mijares and other civilians who are cooperating with the Japanese. A few days ago the Mission Hospital truck came out of the city to Calinog and it was shot at by the USAFFE thinking that Dr. Porras was in the truck. Instead, it was a driver and a helper – both were wounded seriously.
We have also heard that Ramon Lopez was in Jaro when the Japanese landed and was not able to get away.
Before I go any further, I want to give you a description of our hideout among the high hills. It is a two-room nipa shack nestled among the bamboo trees. There is a tiny kitchen and a dining area, and another room which is a little larger which acts as our living room and bedroom. At night we spread the mattresses on the floor and in spite of all we sleep comfortably. There are eight of us who sleep in the large room and the servants sleep in the smaller room (3 of them). The animals sleep under the house (the cow and calf, 3 dogs, and Billy, the cockatoo, with the chickens who belong to the owner of the house. The 3 angora cats and Dickie, a blackbird) sleep upstairs with us.) Noah’s Ark, Dorothy calls it. It’s a scream when all the animals begin to make noise at the same time. Dolly calls it the Madhouse of Alabidhan (Alabidhan is the name of this barrio). In spite of it all we do have our jokes.
Two days before the invasion Dr. Bernas had a front tooth extracted, and Millard lost one of his front teeth three days ago. In the course of a bridge game last night, Millard looked at Dr. Bernas and said, “I will run you a race in growing another tooth.” We surely had a good laugh as in the manner it was said it sounded very funny. Whenever we play bridge to help pass the time, Coné and Meñing (Dr. Bernas) have a gun beside them. The law doesn’t exist anymore and the bandits are running wild in the hills and countryside. The Philippine Army is also shooting the bandits. The other day we saw walking over the hill about 50 men. Among them were 11 bandits which had been caught by the Army in Passi looting civilian homes, and they were being taken to Army headquarters situated in the mountains.
Coné has been with us ever since the invasion and I am very thankful that he was able to get away from the hospital before the Japanese arrived.
Yesterday Capt. Alvarado told Coné that he had to report to the security area below the high mountains, so he is leaving tonight with the captain and six soldiers. They do not want to cross the road in daylight, as it is very dangerous. It is a 2-day hike across the country.
At the present time all hostilities have stopped as the American officers and Japanese are negotiating for a truce. Mr. Powell (now a colonel) is being detained in Iloilo as a hostage. We are very anxious to know the outcome and we will not know until Coné returns. He expects to be gone a week or so. If there is an armistice we will leave this place and move into a bigger barrio where there are more people and houses for protection from the robbers, as they travel in bands. We have to protect ourselves since the Japanese have no control in the countryside. They have established order in the city, but not in the country. In the bigger barrios, the men take turns watching out for them, and they are shot on sight.