I sallied forth today to stock up on food. The market is burned, but people are bringing in a few fish and eggs and vegetables and strewing it in little stands in the streets near the market place. I came sailing back down Park Avenue, happy as could be to have discovered a bit of pork, some papayas and some native spinach. And there, in our street, was a jeep! The officer in it seemed pretty worried and harassed. I stopped to see what he was looking for, and he said: “Can you tell me where—damn it to h— Is that you, Gladys? Everybody in Santo Tomas claims you’re dead! And they made me come out to look for yours and the Jansons’ bodies!” It was Pete Grimm. He actually was perturbed and I felt slightly apologetic for being still alive and healthy! He said he had crossed on a pontoon up the river and had more shots fired at him on that trip from Santo Tomas than during the whole Guadalcanal campaign.
I took him home, and he told us a little about the Santo Tomas capture, which is an epic, and since I only heard of it at second hand, I won’t try to put it in my overworked diary. He is in charge there. He said about eighteen had been killed and nearly a hundred injured. Most of my friends are safe. Everyone is eating well and plans are being made to ship them home.
Pete said all Paco, and most of Ermita and Malate districts are in ruins and still burning. He’s afraid that many of the white people were killed in those districts, and many hundreds of the Filipinos. He wasn’t sure about the Philippine General Hospital.
He could only stay a little while, but he was our first visitor from the other side, and we parted with him reluctantly. But we let him go, laden with messages for those inside.
There is a nasty 22M gun in our neighborhood that makes circulating hazardous. But I did get around and about a good deal today. Most everyone is all right here in Pasay.
We got some of the engineers to unload our tank traps and take up the dynamite charges that are in front of
the house across the street. It has three huge dynamite charges—contact charges—right in front of it! Pure luck no truck went over that road. There also were nineteen shells in the garage. It was the Belgian consul’s house, and Janson is responsible for it. One of us will try to move in there, or else the looters will get it.
A Swiss couple came by who escaped butchery down Taft Avenue by hiding in a ditch for three days. They had a story that a message from Tokyo was intercepted when our troops were at Calumpit, not twenty miles away, which said the Americans were near Manila, and that the Jap troops were to at once begin the massacre, pillaging and firing of the city and all inhabitants, including—especially including—the internees of all camps. This, so the story runs, is why they made that forced march, and the First Cavalry arrived in Manila seventy- two hours ahead of schedule. The rear guard did not get here quickly enough, hence the city underwent such severe pounding, although the Santo Tomas people, with few exceptions, were saved. We also heard that the food supply in Santo Tomas could not have lasted another week, and that many people were already near death from starvation.
The bridges are all blown up, and thanks to the Makapili and some girl spies, they have had a bad time throwing pontoons across; for each time the Americans started, the Japs went right to work on them, knowing in advance where they were working. Two women were caught and shot, so the bridge work went forward more quickly.
At the risk of sounding unfair, it seems to me from all I hear, that the guerrillas haven’t been the little heroes they should have been, around here, anyway.