Thursday 29th November 2018

It all started with an email to the Philippine Cricket Association (PCA) back in 2011. I explained my passion for cricket and my experience and expressed a keen interest to somehow be involved with cricket in the Philippines, the homeland of my mum.

Within a day a gentleman by the name of Iain Sinclair replied. Little did I know that correspondence would begin a journey that would take me to different corners of the globe competing at the international level, introduce me to a community of people who are fiercely passionate about cricket, and awaken inside me a deep desire to connect authentically with my Filipino heritage.

It has been a busy couple of days since flying from Sydney to Manila. The flight was delayed for three hours. It gave me and a new Filipino national team player, Grant Russ, from Townsville in Queensland, the chance to get to know one another and share stories from our cricketing past.

I spent my first night in Manila with Karweng Ng and his wife, Hannah. Wanga and I have been roommates on tour ever since Hong Kong in 2015. It was great to catch up with him, see where he lives and finally meet his lovely wife. I had planned to do some shopping on my first day in the Philippines but a combination of jet lag, the crippling humidity and smog got the better of me. I slept instead. I felt much better by the afternoon and was ready for a hit with Wanga and newly appointed national coach, Mark Pekin. We used the tennis courts at the International School Manila where Mark works as the Sports Coordinator. There was something surreal about being on top of a high rise building overlooking the bright lights of Manila, using a bowling machine on a tennis court and backing yourself to keep balanced and hit through the line. By the end of our one and a half hour session we were dripping with sweat. It felt great to get bat on ball.

This morning PCA general manager Faisal Khan and I attended a media conference at the National Press Club. The journalists showed a genuine interest in cricket and were hungry to know about the team, our chances of success and some of the basic principles of the game. Faisal and I really enjoyed the experience. It’s easy to talk about a game I love and a team of players who are united in their love of cricket and the Philippines. I feel immensely proud to lead them.

We arrived in Tagatay this afternoon. All of the national teams are staying at The Serviced Residences at Kasa Luntian. The apartments are spacious and there is plenty of room to stretch and roll.

This evening we had a team dinner at the hotel restaurant. Conversation bubbled along as we reflected on the last tournament in Bendigo, Australia, and openly expressed our goals for the week ahead. Tomorrow we have an official team training at the ground in Cavite. I can’t wait. It’s all about to get very real.


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.

February 15-29, 1944

The worries, distress and school problems, aggravated by lack of food, have drained my strength, and I had to go to Laguna to recover some vigor from the fresh breeze and nourishment offered by this province. These towns northeast of Makiling are the most peaceful in the archipelago. The guerrillas had already taken refuge in the mountains several months ago, or had returned to their homes, reconciled but not appeased, waiting for further developments. The more zealous groups have settled in the mountains at the opposite coast of Makiling, from where they descend and prey upon the lowland towns, though infrequently, ambushing trucks and destroying army trains.

The bandits of Cavite are the only ones showing signs of happenings all throughout the country. They steal domestic animals, crops, farm equipment, rails and rail ties, electric wires, laundry clothes and even the clothes on persons’ backs.

The Commander of the Constabulary of Calamba called up the El Real Plantation where I was vacationing asking for a truck to transport a contingent to the nearby town of Santa Rosa where the bandits were attacking an outpost. When the driver returned, he was pale and frightened, recounting the fierce battle he witnessed. We did not know what happened and what the casualties were.

I have noted two things in the south. First, that laborers do not want to work in the fields or in factories. They say that their wages would not suffice even if it were doubled, what with rice costing ₱12.00 a ganta and sugar about that much per kilo. Unless they are given these commodities, they will not work.

The Army was expecting this year’s sugar cane yield to be high, but the harvest did not reach even a tenth of the past year’s harvests. After a serious dissappoinment in the failure of the cotton experiment, the military authorities launched a feverish campaign in favor of sugar cane as they are fast running short of alcohol for fuel. The Sugar Association which was commissioned by the military to produce and distribute sugar announced that it would pay ₱16.00 a picul of actual harvests, and that the planters could buy their sugar equivalent to 10% of their production from the Association at ₱35.00 a picul at the black market. How would you expect them to be interested in the Association’s offer?

Another noteworthy development is the intensity of preparations for defense which the Japanese are making around Manila. From Muntinlupa to Caloocan are being constructed a chain of airfields and a small Maginot line from north to south through the towns surrounding the city. It is evident that they are taking the invasion threat very seriously.

July 8, 1943

The so-called guerrillas in this pacified region of Luzon are growing in number and militancy. They have formed a semi-secret organization which, in addition to its active members, is enlisting many young Filipinos who are under instructions to be prepared for active duty. They do not interfere either with the Japanese or the general public, but they are liquidating collaborators both in Manila and the suburbs. In some cases, some well-known active and talkative collaborators have been kidnapped and later released after strong admonitions. Others were sent letters warning them to be careful in what they do or say. These threats are usually effective.

In Cavite, an upsurge of robberies in bands is victimizing defenseless barrios, extending such activities to nearby provinces and causing panic among the helpless townspeople. A band of some seventy bandits armed with rifles swooped down on a barrio in Calamba a couple of days ago, divesting its inhabitants of their clothings, money, work animals, etc. One of the gang leaders was seen the other day hanging dead on a pole, killed by guerrillas who did not want to be held responsible for the despoliation.

February 6, 1942

I was told today about an incident which revealed that Japan has prepared well to occupy these islands. The incident was recounted by a Spanish priest, the parish priest of Cavite, who, a few days after the entry of the Japanese in the neighboring city, was notified that he was to report to the new Commander at the plaza. He appeared personally at the office of the Commander who, at that time, was occupied and whose head was inclined forward. The priest could only see the face partially, but he knew that it was a familiar face. As the priest entered the Japanese lieutenant colonel raised his head and on seeing the parish priest, said in perfect Spanish, “Hello, Fr. Pedro, how are you? You don’t know me anymore?” He was the priest’s former barber for several years and was likewise the barber of many American officers. Shortly before the war he disappeared.

It was clear that the barber was not promoted to colonel overnight as the Reds had done in Spain, but that he disguised himself as a barber to study and to spy on the naval base. It was an open secret that the Japanese maintained an army of spies in the Philippines. We have heard of cases of Japanese officers going about in the Islands working as drivers, mechanics, agents of commercial firms, and even as tailors and carpenters. They knew every geographical detail of the country better than the American officers did, and possessed complete maps, not only of the details of the terrain and coasts, but also of all fortifications, and they were posted on the movement of troops and armaments, their number and quality. They even knew the plans of the American High Command. All Japanese officers came provided with maps marked in Japanese with all details, streets and houses, roads, rivers, bridges, barrios, hills, factories, etc. well marked. When they came to a place, they could immediately identify it through their maps.

Fri. Dec. 26/41

Had a quiet night except for the dogs. Cecil thought they were bad over on Rubi Street, but I think they are worse here. Air raids started about 10 a.m. four or five waves of nine each came over, and all seemed to drop bombs on the Port Area. We saw some leaflets dropped this morning. Saw one that was dropped yesterday. It was encouraging the Filipinos to fight against the Americans. More wild rumors going around. I will list a few of the more fantastic ones. Some days ago they said the water had been poisoned, and people went frantic again for a few hours. Then they said that the invaders had dropped gas, and people went frantic again to get gas masks and Anti-gas solution. First we heard that 10,000 Chinese troops had landed on Cavite and next we heard that it was 120,000 that had landed. Then we heard that 300 fighter planes were to come from Corregidor, and later that 15,000 were to come from Australia. And later still that only 7000 Australian troops were coming. Yesterday the rumor got started that Manila was to be evacuated completely, but there was no truth in it. Some talk of the Authorities declaring Manila to be an open city, but not decided yet. The all clear signal just blew, and the raids are over once again. Guess they did plenty of damage this time, at least many bombs were dropped in the Fort Area. Walk to San Andres to visit the folks there. All of Misos home now.

Fri. Dec. 19/41

No raids last night! People are getting used to this life a little, and we see a few more peddlers around in the mornings and a few more caratelas taking people to the market. Cecil and I went to town this morning. I had business at the Post Office and there we saw Tagumpay Eusebio.  Asked about a boat going to America. None! And no news! Cecil sent a cablegram to New Zealand saying we were safe. We got home without getting caught in a raid, and were just finishing the dishes when the first siren sounded. Ten minutes later the planes came in from the west, dropped a few bombs on Cavite and went away. Started a fire that looks like oil burning. Dark billowing clouds rising into the sky. About a half-hour later seventeen more planes came in from the same direction. We neither saw nor heard any bombs, but heard later that they dropped leaflets.