We were up all night—we never all go to bed all at once, anyhow. The children were in the air-raid shelter but its walls are of dirt and that dirt is beginning to sift loose. The big guns are barking constantly. There must be a terrific battle going on across the river. It is maddening not to know what is going on. I alternate between cooking beans on the charcoal stove, and mixing rum and water to keep our courage up—and scribbling notes about how we’re doing!
We had our first callers today since our news about Santo Tomas being taken by our troops—two young men, one Swiss and one Pole. They had definite information that Santo Tomas was taken by the First Cavalry on the night of the 3rd. They also said the bridges were all blown and that the Escolta, the first street the other side of the river, had been taken by the Americans.
The planes are swooping low, fast and furious. I was so pleased to see the boys, I opened up a bottle of really
good rum I had been saving—but wasn’t sure enough of the Escolta news to risk opening our last bottle of good Scotch. Straining at a gnat and swallowing rum, that’s me!
It seemed horrible to be shut up. My curiosity got the better of me. A hectic war going on and I shut up behind walls! So, much against Janson’s better judgment, I went over the back wall. We didn’t dare unlock the big iron gates. Felie went with me. We went to Pasay market which was deserted, walked up Libertad Street, ordinarily a street teeming with business and full of little shops, but now deserted. I bought a water olla (big urn), and we walked over to see what had happened to the Polo Club. It was still standing, but one corner of the grounds had been blown up, there had been some sort of a radio rigging there. The lovely Baldwin house on the edge of the grounds is burning. It was there that the consular staff was interned for more than a year after the occupation, until they were exchanged.
Just about in front of it we saw a great crowd of Filipinos running down the street, pursued by Japanese with guns. Seems the Filipinos had started looting operations a trifle too soon, in a house still occupied by Japanese. It was a hot situation so we leapt into a ditch, water jug and all, until they passed us. Bullets were a bit too thick for comfort, and we both wished we had taken good advice and stayed behind our own walls.
But just the same, from there we went on to see some friends who were living very near the bay and farther out toward Paranaque. They have had a bad time. The house had received one direct hit from a shell and there
was shrapnel. The shell indicated there were big guns of both sides very near. The air-raid shelter wasn’t much good and was too far from the house, so when the planes were strafing they’d get beneath the tables and chairs which they had made into a kind of shelter in the drawing room. While we were there an air-raid started, and an exchange of shelling, so most everyone ducked for the makeshift shelter. I chose to stay outside, and as Felie emerged from the shelter after the raid, she laughed and called herself a pantywaist. Just as she reached for her glass, which she had left on a table on the terrace, came another salvo and a piece of shrapnel struck her in the fleshy part of her back, below her waist. I was frantic, but we got it washed with alcohol and dressed with iodine—all during the worst raid we had ever experienced, because it had been my silly idea to go out. Nothing ever happens to me. I dash around, sticking my neck out constantly, but poor Felie! Shot in the filet!
I finally got her home after the raid died down, and got her to bed. The wound is very painful and, of course,
we can’t get a doctor. Our host is none too pleased with us for getting into trouble at a moment when we may
have to flee for our lives from the fires which are all around us.
I spent the night prowling around. Felie was in my bed, and I couldn’t face sleeping with the twins! Better take a bombing! Probably less painful.
It’s a mad life. I hope the Americans get here today, from one side or the other. We can see a battle going on on Nichols Field. We hear the guerrillas are in possession of it.
Judging from sound and the sight of fires, we think the walled city must be under heavy fire. There ts a hospital in there, a tubercular one, and some white people are patients there. Heaven help them.
The Japanese civilian next door evidently never got away. He “boards” with the mestiza girl I’m always talking about. He came to the wall and told Janson that the American troops are nearly at Nichols Field and he wants to surrender himself to them and not to the Filipino troops. The Americans evidently have a nicer reputation for fair dealing! But once the American soldiers see what the Japs have done to the prisoners and to the internees, maybe the old milk of human kindness supposed to be coursing in our soldiers’ veins may turn! Anyhow, Janson told the Jap he could not aid him, but suggested he stay quietly in his own house and surrender to the first American who came in.
Does that sound wonderful! The first American who comes in!
We are all weary. Cooking is an effort but the children must be fed. The servants are frightened, but loyal. There is no water, except our little well. Toilet facilities are strained to a point unmentionable—four small boys,
four adults and four servants! No food to be bought, no lights, no phone, no gas to cook by. But we’ve got the primitive essentials of charcoal, candles, matches, canned food, etc., and we can stand a siege of weeks, even. Our small well isn’t elegant but there is water, which we boil to drink. We fill the tubs each day for washing and toilet uses. It isn’t very convenient, but war never is!
We eat very well, in fact, exceedingly well, for we can- not keep anything fresh. The meat that was in the freezers when the power went off, we had to cook and eat. I had wanted that carabao roast to make sandwiches for the Santo Tomas people, but we could not get it out to them. We also had some corn bread I’d made into loaves. I thought once the troops got in everything would be fine. Optimistic, that’s me.
Anyhow, we ate it. I fixed it like a pot roast over the charcoal fire and put in camotes (sweet potatoes) with it. We have a small alcohol lamp on which we brew coffee at all times of the day and night. It’s our mainstay, along with rum.
I know that what we are going through is nothing, absolutely nothing, compared to those people in Europe who have lived through this for years, but I guess I can squawk a little in my own private diary! None of us
complains much in public. And the children are wonderful—except, I can’t train them all to go to the bathroom at the same time so we won’t have to carry so much water.