June 23, 1944 (Friday)

Waseda University. Accompanied by a Formosan friend, I went with Cruz, Peña and Sison to visit Waseda University, which is about 10 minutes’ bus ride from our dormitory. The university campus and buildings have a very dignified appearance, something like the Imperial University with its typical tower and lanes lined by trees.

We dropped in at the library and going over the index files in the English section, I noticed there were many English books about the Philippines, about an inch thick of index cards. We also saw the historic residence with its beautiful garden of Marquis [Shigenobu] Okuma, founder of the university and one of Japan’s foremost leaders. Marquis Okuma’s statue in the center of the university stands out conspicuously among the buildings and trees. Took a few souvenir pictures. Bought a French language book (Y3) at a second-hand book store outside the university premises.

Manila Tribune. Received several copies of the Tribune tonight through General Satō.

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.

JUNE 28, 1944 (Wednesday)

Tokyo Suijō Keisatsusho (Tokyo Water Police Station). At 2:00 p.m., as part of our school schedule, we visited the Tokyo Water Police Station on the bank of the Sumida River. The Station Chief received us, and, boarding two police motor boats, we enjoyed a nice ride along Tokyo’s principal river (like Manila’s own Pasig), passing under huge steel bridges that spanned it.

The Kachidoki-bashi Bridge near the mouth of the river (which leads out to Tokyo Bay) looks like Manila’s Quezon Bridge but is much longer and is of the type that opens up in the middle to let big steamers in. Other bridges under which our motor boats sped by were the Eitai-bashi, which looks like Manila’s Colgante Bridge, and Kiyosu-bashi, like Manila’s Ayala.

The scene along the Sumida River is not different from the Pasig with launches and cascos [flat-bottomed boats] continuously passing by.

We visited a typical police outpost at a strategic point along the river, and its functions were explained to us. There are police outposts at every strategic point along the river to supervise traffic and maintain peace and order. The Tokyo Water Police Station, which is part of the Metropolitan Police Board, has total personnel of about 350 men, plus 150 launch drivers to operate the station’s 80 motor boats. Its organization is similar to ordinary police stations.

This has been a very fruitful afternoon, and we specially enjoyed the motor boat ride.

B-29 Exhibit. At Matsuya Department Store at Ginza we saw on exhibit the first pictures taken of the bombing in North Kyushu two weeks ago. Parts of the “Flying Fortresses” wreckage were also on display. (Japs impressed.)

Mr. Uehara, secretary of the Osaka Branch of the Philippine Society of Japan, took dinner with us tonight. I talked to him for quite a long time on the subject of religion, especially Buddhism and Shintoism.