Early this morning we moved back to the garden of our house. The many fruit trees in the garden were gone, cut by shrapnel and consumed by fire. From the direction of the Paco Cemetery we could hear rifle shots. Could those be ours? A refugee woman gave birth to a baby girl near us. Should she be named Dolores or Angustias, in memory of the ordeal, or should she be named Victoria or Paz, in the hope of better days?
The cannonading seemed nearer by nightfall but it was less frequent. We crouched for hours under the fallen galvanized-iron roofing of our ruined house, cramped and silent, not daring to move. I dreamed of how nice it was to lie down on my Beautyrest mattress. As if at a given signal, every body began to talk about the nice food they had eaten before the war. We only had linugaw (water boiled rice) to eat that day.
The bullets began to fall in greater numbers that night. My little adopted daughter embraced Ricardo, saying “I’m afraid, Pappy.” Pray, pray to the Virgin, little one,” I told her. Spent bullets were ricocheting like raindrops on the galvanized roof that covered us.
Finally, late at night, the Japanese patrols disappeared from the streets. They had retreated toward the bay, across Taft Avenue.