It sounds like the real McCoy now. We’ve fed the children in the air-raid shelter, got Felie fixed for the night. She has suffered terribly from her wound. The rest of us are waiting. Janson is pretending to read, his wife is trying to keep the children quiet in the shelter, and I am typing in my room in the dark. Thank goodness for the touch system. Wonder how this will look by daylight—and don’t I wish daylight were here.
I read a book not so long ago, the name of which I forget, about Gettysburg. The descriptions of people’s sensations, people who had no communication with each other in opposite sides of the town, the battle raging, no one knowing what was happening. When I read it, I thought how modern conveniences, electricity, gas, telephones and transportation would prevent any such situation. But look at us—exactly in that predicament.
I did another silly thing today. I saw something fluttering in the air and land in a hedge not far away. The Japs have taken a very dim view of picking up anything dropped from planes. But—curiosity! It was a funny strip of silvery paper. I sneaked it back to the house. There’s nothing written on it. I tried Calamansi juice, heat, cold—but can’t figure it out. I hid it, but it’s just a little wad of nothing, no message at all…
We did see a newspaper from Santo Tomas giving the details of the taking of the camp. It was dated the 5th. We hear the Japs are firing on the camp itself. That’s against all war rules but they don’t play according to the rules.
I hate waiting. It is dreadful, not knowing what is going on so short a distance from us. Last night was comparatively quiet, few guns barking and only distant machine guns from the north.
Felie’s wound bothers her and she was restless and miserable.
Huge fires are raging in the town. We think Rizal Stadium must be burning. It is a huge sports place that the Japs are using as troop quarters. The popping of gasoline drums is unmistakable, and the smell of burning oil is in the air. We recognize those signs—the Americans burned their oil and gasoline when they pulled out. The Pandacan oil plants burned by the Americans in 1941 were repaired by the Japanese, and they are again being burned—by the Japs this time. I rather think more efficiently than the Americans destroyed them.
This is the sixth night of waiting. Did I say the taking of our town was going to be easy? I must have been crazy, and whoever said I wasn’t.
Hans came over this morning, braving volleys of shells and machine gunning, to show us the Santo Tomas paper. We had already seen it, but it was nice to have a copy of our own. It is called The Free Philippines. It gives the details of the capture and it is reassuring to know that the internees are in the hands of the American Army and that for some days they have been eating good food and having medical attention. So the Greek wasn’t a second Ananias, either. But was Ananias a Greek? I’m not sure.
Hans has also heard the rumor that Santo Tomas has been shelled, but had no details.
We’ve always joked about our beleaguered little street, “Janson’s Last Stand.” It looks as if it might be just that. So far as we can learn, our troops have taken over a good portion of the other side of town, but the bridges are blown up and communication is nil. We also know for certain now that paratroopers have landed on the ‘Tagatay Ridge a few miles to the south of our village and are advancing toward the airfield. The Filipino troops are already at Nichols airstrip.
Some trusting Filipino is selling carabao meat for ten thousand Mickey Mouse pesos a kilo! We didn’t buy any. The market is closed and the people who have been burned out of their Nipa shacks are taking refuge in it.
The fires are raging around us—two new blazes in the last half hour. It is very close.
This situation is beyond understanding. The Japanese have known ever since the Leyte landing, and before, that they could not hold Manila. They have admitted it themselves. This wanton destruction of the city is absolute savagery, cruel, brutal and totally useless. We all agree that the first sob sister in the States (such as those who took up a collection for the Jap wives in the States) who starts moaning about sparing lovely Tokyo should be mobbed, disrobed, hair pulled and fanny spanked in public. But somebody will—
I think I hear tanks. We are so close to Nichols Field, just where the battle is supposed to be raging. I am trying to type this in the dark—hope the few Japs left don’t get the idea again that this is a sending set! I’ve heard a great variety of sounds of modern warfare these last three years, but the sound of mechanized tanks after hearing the Japanese coffeepot jobs, will be mighty sweet. The sound of shells fills the air—machine gunning is fast and furious and the fires are getting worse.