October 3,1944 (Tuesday)

Waking up early this morning at 5:00, we proceeded to the offices of the Japan Airways, just a few blocks away from our Yamaume Hotel to board the bus that took us to the airport.

At 7:15 a.m., we again boarded our plane, and we were off in no time. This time I wore very comfortable clothing, no more the thick layers of khaki which I wore from Fukuoka to Taihoku. (I wrapped all my extra clothing in a furoshiki [cloth wrapper], together with a bottle of mass wine which I was bent on bringing home.)

Our plane did not fly very high. I noticed there were clouds above and below us, and we must have been flying at 15 or 10 thousand feet above the sea. I again went to sleep to the drone of the twin motors which already sounded like music to my ears after flying so many hours.

Philippine Land Ahoy! At 10:00 a.m. we sighted Philippine territory. We were flying quite low (about 5,000 feet) parallel to Luzon. At about 10:15 a.m., a wireless message was received that we would be flying over San Fernando (La Union) at 10:33, over Arayat at 11:06, and would land at 11:23 at Manila. Excitement took the better of me from then on.

Looking through the window, I beheld for the first time my country from the skies—an actual bird’s-eye view of the Pearl of the Orient Seas. The vast ricefields of the Central Plains of Luzon spread under us like a beautiful lawn, the network of roads looking like narrow pathways cutting across this wonderful garden-island of Luzon. We passed close to the dented peak of Arayat Mountain, and 20 minutes later beautiful Manila spread under us. San Sebastian Church, the City Hall, University of Santo Tomas, Quezon Institute—these were the most conspicuous buildings from the air. We were now flying at about 1,000 feet, and we could see people and vehicles moving about. At exactly 11:23, we landed at Nielson Airport which just about a week ago (September 21) was the target of bombs by American planes.

The hangars and buildings were hit, and many planes were still fresh in their wreckage. Nobody was at the airport to meet us but the employees of the Nippon Airways who went about their job unmindful of the grim aspect of Nielson Airport after the recent bombing raid. The staff officers who were our co-passengers rode special cars while we waited for a bus to take us. Waiting for the bus was an ordeal. There we were back in Manila but practically strangers with no one to talk to but the Japanese employees (there were only 2) of the airport who kept assuring us that a bus would come to take us. I could not even phone as I planned, as all electrical installations had been wrecked by the bombs.

The bus finally came, and we had ourselves taken to the Constabulary Academy No. 1. Passing through the dirty streets of Manila, we noticed the big change that has come to the city after one year and three months. It was not the same Manila of yesteryear. We noticed that the pedestrians looked bored and pale and emaciated.

Bad News. I have always expected the worst but not what I was told. When I heard that our house at Sta. Mesa Heights had been taken over by the army just a few days ago, I thought at first it was a joke. But it was not, and soon I realized how terrible the situation in Manila had become. I tried to contact my brother Tony, Papa at the office and other people by phone but in vain. When I left the Academy at 2:00 p.m., it was literally a search for my family. This was a case of a homecoming without a home to go to; what a welcome for a homesick pensionado who has been away from home one year and three months!

Home-Coming. It was the same as when I went home from the concentration camp of O’Donnell in August two years ago. I came home unannounced and unexpected. I just went right home. Mama took me in her arms, and she cried. My sisters cried. I did not cry (I never do in the presence of people), but inside me, my heart pounded with joy. I was again back in the bosom of my family which I have been missing for so long a time since the war broke out in 1941. My chapter in Tokyo is over. Today begins a new chapter in my life. What comes next ? That is still another question.

October 2, 1944 (Monday)

Waking up early at 5:00 this morning, we started to get ready for our flight home. All dressed up, I weighed 73 kilos (i.e., 13 kilos over the normal); my handbag and portfolio weighed about 13 kilos and my main baggage 23 kilos. I carried, therefore, 59 kilos in total, instead of the limited 15 kilos for ordinary passengers. Until we got into the plane, we were afraid we would not be allowed to bring such heavy baggage, but, fortunately, we made it.

My First Plane Ride! At 8:40 a.m., our twin-engined 12-passenger transport plane took off. We (Lieuts. Duque, Sison and I) were the last to board the plane. The take-off did not last long, and, before we knew it, we were riding high up in the clouds, the mountains and fields of Fukuoka spreading under us in a beautiful panorama. We flew up and up till we were over and above the beautiful white clouds which lazily floated in the huge expanse of the blue autumn sky. Only the continuous roar of the twin motors told us we were moving, for the plane itself kept steady on its course and gave no signs of motion. It was very comfortable riding in the plane, and it was only my several layers of clothing and thick overcoat and bulging pockets that made me feel uneasy. Flying far above the clouds, I estimate we were 25,000 or 30,000 feet above the sea which I could see through the thick layer of cumulus clouds.

I went to sleep, and, when I woke up, our plane was traveling through a thick fog, and visibility was poor. At 1:30 p.m. we felt our plane losing altitude, and we could feel the rapid change of atmospheric pressure in our ears and all over our bodies. We were landing at Taihoku [Taipei] (Taiwan) airport. I got quite dizzy during the landing, most possibly because of the thick and tight clothes I was
wearing. Unexpectedly, we were informed that we would not just stop for half an hour here as previously announced but would have to stay overnight in Taihoku to fly again early tomorrow. Obviously, this change of plan was due to the foggy weather.

All first-class hotels being packed, we had to stay at the Yamaume Hotel which is rather dirty and not fit for a “returning pensionado.” But only one night—so paciencia  [patience].

From 2:00 p.m. till nightfall, we had a chance to see the principal places in Tathoku, the capital of Formosa (or Taiwan). We went shopping with the little money we had left (as we had spent all our money at Fukuoka and changed the remaining from yen to Philippine pesos). I had time to have a haircut. Formosans speak Nippongo, although their accent is different from the Japanese. They also seem to know much of the Philippines and Filipinos, and they easily recognized us as Pinoys. Mr. Otsubo, an employee of the Japan Airways, treated us at a downtown tearoom with whisky and soda and ice cream, and gave us Taiwan sweet bars to bring home to the Philippines.

Back ‘to our dirty hotel after giving Taihoku a hurried lookover, we ordered chicken soup and went to bed thinking of tomorrow and our final lap to the Philippines of our dreams. Tomorrow we shall be home at last!

October 1, 1944 (Sunday)

Still in the train on the way to Fukuoka. Missed mass and communion. Our train has been delayed 3 hours, and we nearly passed Hiroshima City unnoticed. Here Abubakar and Santos gave us castañas [chestnuts], and we took their letters and packages for home.

Hakata Station. Reached this station at 3:00 p.m., and the car and representatives supposed to welcome us were no longer there. Sent telegram to Nagasakis. Rode for the first time in jinrikshas to the famous Sakaya Inn where Ambassador Vargas, Aquino and all personages taking the plane at Fukuoka stay overnight. This inn is first-class and the best I have ever seen so far.

(Crossed Kanmon Strait this morning through the new undersea tunnel connecting the opposite tips of Honshu and Kyushu. Tunnel wide enough to peer out of window and get fresh air. Trip undersea lasted about 8 minutes.)

Alba, Mapa and Dominguez were there waiting for us. They slept with us and told us of bombings in Kyushu.

Tonight was our dress rehearsal for tomorrow’s flight. Practiced what it would be like wearing several layers of underwear, khaki shirts and pants, jacket and a thick overcoat filled with letters and small packages.

In the last-hour shopping at Fukuoka this afternoon, I bought a glasstex watch strap and sunglasses that cost me Y26. Paid a visit to the Blessed Sacrament at Fukuoka Church.

September 30, 1944 (Saturday)

Woke up at 5:00 and heard the 6:30 o’clock mass at St. Sofia’s. The Nagasakis were there, too, to pray for my safe return home.

Yesterday I was with them to say “sayonara,” and it was really sad to leave those who have been my family in Japan. Yasuko-san is the sublimest person I have met in Japan. Crippled for life, walking with the aid of an arm crutch, she saw me off on the streetcar. As the street-car pulled away, there she stood leaning on her crutches looking towards me, her eyes misty, waving to me goodbye. (A very devout Catholic, she takes her deformity with true Christian resignation.) I
hope to see her again. God bless her and her family (and General Nagasaki, now in Davao).

Despedida Party at Tokyo Station. At 10:00 this morning, our train left Tokyo station amidst a rousing send-off. All the pensionados (except a few) were there; they helped us with our baggage; representatives of the Kokusai Gakuyūkai and General Satō were. there too; and just a few minutes before the train left, came General Homma (ex-Commander-in-Chief of the Japanese Forces in the P.I.) to shake our hands and say, “Stand firmly and strongly.” The boys sang the “Song for the Creation of the New Philippines,” and as the last notes of the oft-sung song rang in the air, the train pulled out of Tokyo Station, the big buildings of Tokyo’s center soon disappearing in the distance. Goodbye, Tokyo!

Mr. Yasuhiro Gō boarded the train at Shinagawa to say goodbye—a swell guy to the last minute.

In the train did not do anything but think of the events which have happened so fast these last three days since the order to go home came as a bombshell.

September 29, 1944 (Friday)

Lunch at the Daitōa Ministry at Daitōa Kaikan. Received lacquer cigarette set as gift.

Despedida Visits. Said goodbye to the Masudas, Maruyamas, Nagasakis, Fr. Hoebbels and Sawadas; saw friends at Neo Studio.

Despedida Dinner at the Embassy. A sumptuous dinner and a nice chat under the moonlit sky of Tokyo in autumn in the quiet garden of the Embassy—this was our last night in “Japan’s Manila.” The Ambassador was in very good humor, and we enjoyed his company. General Satō was there, too. Party broke up at 8:00 p.m.

Last Minute Packing. With Eddie Vargas, Ben Osias, and two Nisei helping me pack, I finally finished at 3:00 a.m. Slept with Sison, Eddie, Ben, Norman Reyes and the Nisei. My last night in Tokyo meant just a few hours of sleep.

September 28,1944 (Thursday)

Despedidas. Dropped in at the Takamines to attend a despedida lunch.

Tonight attended a small but very enjoyable party at the Gōs, Yuriko wore evening dress, and there was whisky and champagne. Received beautiful hankies as gift. Stayed till almost midnight, caught the last car and arrived at the dormitory at 1:30 a.m. Packed till 3:00.

August 2, 1944 (Wednesday)

General Cleaning. Today is “general cleaning day” in all Tokyo. Cleaned my room, shined my shoes, and washed my clothes the whole morning. After a short nap, went shopping at Ginza. Bought Jazmin Perfume and combs.

Death of President Quezon. Read of his death in a Japanese newspaper. This is very sad news indeed. May God have mercy on his soul.

August 1, 1944 (Tuesday)

Woke up this morning early for our trip to Kamakura, exactly one hour from Tokyo Station.

Hachimangū Shrine. A police officer in plainclothes from the Kamakura Police Station was our guide for sight-seeing. The Hachimangū Shrine is a historic place of worship, and, like the one at Nagano, there are sacred doves here, too. The temple buildings are the typical Japanese shrines painted in red. The official in charge of the grounds (an official from the Imperial Household Ministry) received us, delivered a speech, and posed for a picture on the steps of the shrine.

Daibutsu. Our next visit was to the famous Daibutsu or Great Buddha, a few minutes’ streetcar ride from the Hachimangū shrine. The statue of bronze, said to be 700-odd years old, has a dignified appearance in its huge dimensions. We went inside the Buddha and ascended a stairway up to the shoulders of the statue. A notice inside the image reads as follows: “Stranger, whosoever thou art and whatsoever thy creed be, when thou enterest this sacred statue remember this is a tathāgata, the womb of the cosmic body, and should be entered with reverence and not contamination.”

Kamakura Bathing Beach. At about 11:30 we took a nice swim at the famous beach of Kamakura, now packed with bathers seeking to escape the heat of Tokyo in summer. This is my first experience bathing in the Pacific Ocean, and my first, too, in Japanese waters. This part of the Pacific Ocean (Sagami Bay), I noticed, is rather cold, unlike the water in Pasay which is rather comfortably warm. Our beaches in Cavite, Bauan and Nasugbu are very much better than Kamakura’s, but the latter looks more like a tourist resort with bathing houses and beach umbrellas everywhere.

Enoshima Island is visible from the beach. It is reached by a wooden bridge from the mainland. Did not have time to go there.

Along the street leading to the beach are shops selling beautiful shell trinkets. Bought a few.

Yokohama. At 2:30 we were met at the Yokohama Station by another police officer in plainclothes who took us to the Kanagawa Prefectural Police Department, which occupies a beautiful building which is a landmark in Yokohama. Police Superintendent Nishihara, Chief of the Administration Section, who was at one time in the Philippines, received us in his office and posed for a picture in front of the building. We missed the parade of the Yokohama Emergency Police Unit which we were supposed to witness at 2:00.

At the Keisatsu Renshūjo (Police Training School), we visited the barracks and classrooms, and we were told all about the training. (In this school, Desiderio, Sinsuat and de Leon are undergoing training.)

Our next visit was to the Police Station of Isezaki. Here the Station Chief of Police showed us around the building and explained to us the workings of his office. From the roof garden of this station, we had a bird’s-eye view of Yokohama. This is a rather beautiful city with hills all around and a nice harbor.

Walking at Isezaki Street, which is Yokohama’s Ginza, we noticed how different Tokyo and Yokohama are. In the latter, there is not the conglomeration of people we see day in and day out in Tokyo. The shops are not very big, and traffic is not as heavy as in Tokyo.

When we reached the dormitory tonight at 8:00, we were all dead tired. This whole day has been very interesting. We saw so many places in such a short time.

July 31, 1944 (Monday)

GRADUATION. At long last, at 10:00 a.m., our graduation ceremonies were held at the Keisatsu Kōshūjo, and we received our “well-earned” but still “unreadable” diplomas. The affair was very simple but well attended by high ranking officers of the Tokyo Metropolitan Police Board, the Great East Asia Ministry, the International Students Association, and our instructors, professors, and lecturers. There were about 80 people who saw the 11 of us (including Mon Felape, a Burmese) graduate.

Speeches were short. Duque delivered the response in excellent Japanese, to the admiration of all present. The luncheon after the ceremonies was held amidst a funereal atmosphere. Nobody seemed to be in the mood for chatting, and before we knew it, the banquet was over.

This morning’s diploma is the fourth I have received from the Japanese, including one at Del Pilar [POW] Camp, one at the Constabulary Academy, and another at the International Students Institute last March. (What will my people say!)

The last three months, which has been the length of our course, went by quite fast. It seems only yesterday that we held our opening ceremonies, and this morning we suddenly found ourselves “full-fledged graduates” with diplomas in hand! Everything so far has gone on well. I only hope everything turns out as scheduled.

This p.m. I was down with a terrible cold.