January 9, 1945

The Great Day, our Great Day! The troops have landed on Luzon, at Lingayan Bay. That’s just where the Japs landed. I had my money on Mindanao, or did have until they made that landing in Mindoro. But they are here, not two hundred miles away. Oh happy day!

At this moment, I can see thirty or more of our planes slowly soaring just above the reach of the little antiaircraft still functioning, and I feel avenged for those bitter days of December, 1941, to May, 1942, when we watched the Japanese planes pounding Corregidor and Bataan after they’d finished Manila, with never a chance of retaliation on our part. The seaplanes seem to be dropping their loads far across the city, perhaps Sablang Field, or the far end of Nielsen Field.

I heard such a nice story about Nielsen. I hope it is true. Seems the Japs had built dummy hangars there to fool our boys, but the Americans bombed everything on that field except the dummies.

One school of thought places our troops in Cavite, another in Zambales, and one lovely optimistic tale is that they are parachuting in Paranaque. We live very near the dividing line between our town of Pasay and Paranaque, and I cannot quite believe the parachute tale yet, much as I would like to.

All streets, big streets running north and south, are being laid for mines. But the Japanese are a little slow in spots. I watched a lovely performance the other day. Mine laying. One group of Jap soldiers dug the holes, neat, symmetrical jobs, then came the next group to lay the mines, and finally a third group following to cover the mines and stick a little piece of something over the mound. Somehow, on the curve of Taft Avenue extension, the third group got slowed up for some reason, and between them and the second mine-laying group, around the bend, came a group of Filipinos who stole two mines and dashed away in a carretela. The third group of Japanese finally arrived and placidly and methodically covered up the empty holes and stuck in the indicator. I was on my bicycle, and I giggled all the way home; but I am having a hard time making anyone believe my story.

Our tiny street, two blocks long, has a barricade built of logs cut from nearby trees. It has practically everything, mines, sticks of dynamite, sharp-pointed sticks, barbed wire, all dirt covered. I call it “Janson’s Last Stand,” for I am sure if the Americans ever encountered anything so formidable as this tank trap, they’d turn right around (and that’s a joke). The children inspected it the other day, right while the Japanese were working in it, and the kids think they could make a better tank trap with their Christmas hammer and saw, and I am not so sure they aren’t right.

Our reactions to all these exciting events are varied and interesting. I always get what Sander calls “goose pinkles” when I see the big planes. Dorothy gets teary round the lashes, but I must say none of us spends any time weeping. I’ve shed very few tears these last three years, and mostly of rage. We can shed a few of joy soon, we hope. Let joy be unrefined when it comes.

The Spanish woman nearby with the charming house was approached by the Japanese about giving it up. She demurred, but they told her if she didn’t give it up and go away, they would move in with her. She seemed to prefer that to losing her home, so the commandant of our district moved into half her house along with his aide. He is a navy officer, which confirms the report that the Japanese Navy has taken over. However, he wears civilian clothes and has asked her and her servants not to use his rank of captain in addressing him and not to tell the neighbors who he is! Shows which way the wind blows, or the Japs run, methinks.

November 24, 1944

A strange world we live in! The most welcome sound is the smooth and easy drone of our own planes, the most eagerly awaited sight the silver of those planes flashing toward us in the early morning sunshine. I wish, though, they’d wait until I get London B.B.C, and a second cup of coffee, but who are we to be choosy? Even the “Lone Ranger’’—he was all alone—who showed up before five the other morning, making us all dash downstairs with the kids, didn’t annoy us too much. We loved him, but he didn’t stay long enough. He dropped his load quite close, but we could not decide where.

September 25, 1944

We are somewhat disappointed. No raids since the 22nd, although many alarms were sounded. Current is on again, and we hear the local radio announced the proclamation of a state of war between the “Philippine Republic and the United States!” The Japanese radio calls is a declaration of war “on the United States and Great Britain.” The usual chitchat about our bombers hitting churches and innocent civilians fills the one-page newspaper they got out this morning. Actually, the boys did hit Binondo Church and set it on fire, but the Japs had big warehouses full of ammunition right adjoining the church and we are all fairly certain they had ammunition stored in the church itself. There is plenty of ammunition and firearms stored in other churches that I have seen with my own
eyes. Our own church, the Cathedral, has troops in it, and the lovely lawn is full of foxholes and trenches.

I cruised around on my bicycle today. There isn’t much damage to people’s houses—a little stray shrapnel in gardens, stray bullets, etc. The bay seems cleared out. Evidently the ships ran for it, for I am sure our boys didn’t get around to sinking many of them. The big dry dock that the Japs floated over from Cavite was hit, and I think it was sunk—I can’t see it.

Carretela rumors say that tins of crackers and apples were dropped in Paranaque today. Wish they’d aim a few our way—haven’t seen any since 1942.

One Jap plane crashed not too far from us on Vita Cruz. Ethel and I dashed down on our bikes, and so did a million other people. The Japs were awfully annoyed. Waved us all off with guns,

Wish I could see with my own eyes the leaflets the Americans are supposed to have dropped. Nobody I know has actually seen one. It’s always somebody’s cousin, or the aunt of my cook’s grandmother, or some such mythical person who has actually picked one up. They are supposed to tell us to keep cool, stay home, mind our own business—and wait. Sensible advice, except the staying home. I want to see what’s going on.

This declaration of war by the Philippine Republic doesn’t seem to affect the Filipinos much. Prices have shot up in the most horrible fashion. Pork is P110.00 a kilo. Calamansi (small limes) that used to be 50 centavos a hundred, are now 50.00 a hundred. We used them to flavor our rum. Guess we’ll have to drink the rum unadorned hereafter. I have the garden, and banana and papaya trees, so we won’t starve right away.

The radio from London said that the British want their share in the Pacific campaign—who’s stopping them, except the Japs? How’s about them starting in

September 22, 1944

We got off to an early start—no gas, no electricity, no telephone; but we have charcoal. The air siren sounded this morning before we got coffee but the cook finished it during the raid, scared as he was.

To see those planes approaching, more than forty of them that I could see, was a magnificent sight. The planes of the Japanese had taken off very early in the morning, probably to attack the carrier, as our planes are obviously carrier-borne.

We found bullets in the garden chair-cushions today. I am glad I wasn’t on the cushions when it happened. That’s one good reason for circulating about—might get hit if I stayed in one spot. The bombers seem to be very accurate. My house is awfully close to the airfields, but so far no accidents have happened in the residential part of Pasay. The raid was heavy and lasted several hours. Hope they come again tomorrow! Also hope they stick to daylight operations, I’d hate to miss anything.

September 21, 1944

This day, so long expected, Manila was bombed. From practically orchestra seats in my house between two airfields, in a street lined with gasoline dumps, trucks, barracks, I could expect almost anything. But a most workmanlike job the whole performance was indeed.

For two or three days our “protectors,” as the Nips call themselves, have been telling the public that they were going to have practice maneuvers to coordinate air and ground defenses, and that the populace should not be worried at the sound of planes, gunfire, etc. All this was to last two days.

So this morning I listened to my pet stations early from four o’clock on, had my coffee, dashed off to Pasay market, exchanged the usual moans with other shoppers about the horrible prices, exchanged rumors, got extravagant and bought what the butcher said was a carabao tenderloin but which I think is horse, begged a fishhead for the cat and dashed home again, on my faithful

The house was full of mothers leaving their children for the little kindergarten school we have twice a week in my house, for small youngsters, under the direction of a refugee kindergarten teacher. The mamas and I had some coffee, and we exchanged rumors—I never dare mention my radio, I always say “I heard a rumor.” They went on their way, leaving the children happily busy at the play table.

I went out to the garden, my lovely garden, fruit of my own hard labor. Lucienne decided we’d have lima beans for lunch and started to pick them.

I climbed the ladder to get the choice ones up high, when Lucienne remarked in her fast-improving English, “look like McCoy, all those planes shooting.” ‘‘No,” said I. “Don’t you remember? It’s the day for practice with the Japanese land and air forces. If this were the McCoy, do you think I’d be standing on this six-foot ladder?” Just then the sky was a mass of planes, ack-ack. A plane burst in flames in the air, and the local radio blared out: “THIS IS AN AIR ALERT, THIS IS AN AIR
R-A-A-A-IJ-I-D,” the voice trailing out in fear. Then the power went off. And I got down from the ladder, but hastily. What a fine joke on them—wonder who thought that up, sending real American planes into a Japanese defense demonstration! It couldn’t have been coincidence.

We rushed to the children, and practically smothered them in pillows and mattresses beneath the stairway, with the teacher singing nursery rhymes to them. I rushed to find my last pair of field glasses, which were hidden in a pair of riding boots. I nearly had to dig through the boot, I had so much trouble getting them out. It was a wonderful show. Who could have had such a wonderful sense of humor as to crash the Jap party? They bombed all morning, intermittently. In our part of town it was Nichols Airfield, and it was very close. So close that the swoosh of the bombs blew our skirts sky-high if we were moving about—as I was, constantly. I had so much fun I forgot my previous worry as to whether I’d be scared or not. Pictures blew off the walls, china crashed, kids thought it was fun!

The bombers knocked off about noon, and the frantic parents came for their offspring. Many of them stayed for lunch, and the neighbors came in and pooled lunches with us. We had a real picnic. The power had gone off so we had no gas or electricity, but the charcoal worked fine and we had a wonderful time. The bombing started again a little before three, just as I was having a siesta. They bombed the piers and port area, this trip, as near as I could tell. I could see them diving very clearly—the most wonderful sight I have ever seen and the most welcome.

I went over to the Jansons’ house about six after the bombers had evidently gone for the day. Their children had been at my house but seemed to have suffered no ill effects. They have tried out their new air-raid shelter during the afternoon. My shelter has no top and is full of water—might as well be hit by shrapnel as die of

Oddly enough, the Filipinos seem elated. A little too pleased openly for everybody’s good. My crew are pleased, but jittery. No power, so since I could get nothing on the radio, I spent the evening exchanging experiences—and rumors—with the neighbors.

I went to bed to read about midnight, after trying to type the diary by light of a lantern. Bet we’ll have no burglars tonight, as we have had so frequently. of late; our street is full of soldiers, and there are four fuel trucks parked outside my gate. Spec, the wirehair, is highly nervous and is trying to convince me she should sleep on my bed. Ill try to be firm.

August 4, 1944

I went to Santo Tomas yesterday with Dorothy’s pass for renewal. Saw old Mrs. G. who looks so ill. Her husband is still in Fort Santiago. The Japs renewed her pass without question. I had to wait at the entrance gate while the guard took my case up to the ofice. I dropped a note behind the bench on which I was sitting and saw feet slowly walking on the other side of the fence. A hand reached to pick up the note and I knew it would get to the rightful person.

If the internees were even getting fair war-prisoner treatment, we would not be so dreadfully uneasy. But they aren’t. Several more cancer cases have been sent out to the Philippine General Hospital. I went to see them a day or two ago and they told me what is really happening. The Japanese are trying to break down their morale by starvation and petty vexations, such as frequent roll calls, undignified labor assignments, surprise inspections. They may starve them, but American morale will not break.

It was sad to learn of Quezon’s death. As I took a look at the bay the other day, full of dilapidated dirty ships, the filthy streets, the famed luneta fenced off with barbed wire, the foxholes, gun emplacements, trenches and all the awful evidence of war, I thought how tragic it was that Quezon could not live to bring Manila back to her old glory.

July 27, 1944

A highly exciting week? What with His Nibs (did I mean Hitler?) reported dead, the high mortality among Jap generals, rumors flying about with the greatest of ease, and the bay so full of ships I can’t count them, we are all of a tiz. Took a little ride on the boulevard on the bike with Spec riding behind, just to see what’s what. Was quickly shooed off by soldiers waving guns. We argue all the time about the question of whether the Americans will retake the islands by force or bypass us. Radio not very clear about that. But the Japs think they are going to try to retake it. There are many thousands of Jap troops around Manila, the fortifications are growing apace, airfields blossom overnight, the Japs are working night and day on shelters, trench systems, gun emplacements everything points to attack and/or invasion. We can only wait.

Ever since the Normandy landings, we all feel that the European war is in its last stages. The news of Hitler’s attempted assassination, phony as it sounds, must mean internal disorganization in Germany. Here we go, here’s hoping!

They are still urging the people to leave Manila. The paper and the radio harp on it. I’ve got two women, myself, two small children, half a dozen servants, a wire-haired terrier and an Australian cat, the belongings of dozens of internees, and I can’t run until they force me. I have no place to go. I’ll stay put as long as I can.

July 4, 1944

—The Glorious Fourth—and I don’t dare hang out the American flag, but I have been admiring it all day, hung up in the bathroom. Can’t be much of a celebration, with nearly all Americans locked up. I am sure they are happy in the camp, what with the good news in the air. I’ve had several smuggled notes from camp and while the morale is good, they are getting increasingly hungry. The Japs are trying to starve them. But they seem to get the news and take heart.

The local sheet says Guam, Tinian, Saipan, have been bombed by the American —“‘fruitlessly,”” of course, and all Jap planes R.S.B. [returned safely to base], except one “which crashed into its objective.”

We are all expecting to be bombed. When Cebu got it, or was rumored to have been bombed, someone said: “What’s Cebu got that we haven’t?” and I said, “Cebu got bombed.” A very poor joke, I admit. I dug an air-raid shelter under the mango tree. I have claustrophobia, so didn’t put a top on it. It rained last night so it is a lovely well now.

I think the cubbyhole under the stairs will be the best place for a shelter. Gives us about three ceilings above it, and fixed up with mattresses it will counteract the shock anyhow and keep out shrapnel.

My food situation is pretty good in case of siege, or revolt. I have rice for several months, about two cases of corned beef, a case of tomatoes, string beans, plenty of salt and about a hundred and fifty pounds of sugar. Our garden is doing very well. We have fresh corn, beans, tomatoes, camotes and talignum. I have plenty of charcoal for at least three months, which we are keeping for an emergency. If worst comes to worst, our few households can eat together, saving fuel that way. There are seven houses surrounded by a great wall and each house has a wall around its own garden, so we will be somewhat protected. Glad Mike and I built the stiles between my two houses and his. We can hold off looters if we stick together, but, of course, we couldn’t do much against the Japs.

The Japanese keep harping at us to evacuate the town; but with no means of transportation and no place to go, It sounds impossible to me. The roads are clogged with people going back to their provinces, meeting people coming in from the provinces, each hoping for safety elsewhere. We are close to the airfield but, since the Japanese say we only bomb churches and schools for the blind, guess we’ll be safe. There aren’t any of those buildings near!

With the net slowly but surely closing on the Japanese, island by island, ship by ship, the local situation gets steadily worse. The Filipinos are really getting hungry, some of them. And some of them are getting fat, in the buying and selling and collaborating, but that is war.

After the June shipments to prisoners, the Japanese have steadfastly refused permission for any more aid to go to prisoners or to internment camps. Tokyo says it is up to the local authorities, and the local authorities say it is Tokyo which has forbidden further aid. And so goes the old rat race, and meanwhile the prisoners and the internees are starving. Damn the yellow rats!