November 6, 1944

More bombings yesterday at 12, 2 and 4. Then early this morning at 4 and at 8:30 the Pier area was strafed and bombed. There were many ships there because several Jap divisions arrived. They probably came from Singapore.

Just received a phone call from Ning. He says that a bomb hit Paco Bridge. It was probably accidental. So far practically all bombs have been directed at military installations. In fact, most of the casualties have been caused by the shrapnel from Jap AA guns. One shell burst right in Julito’s room destroying his wardrobe and the walls of his house. His Jap neighbor ran to his hous to find out what happened. The Jap said “indiscriminate bombing by the Anglo-Saxons”. Then Julito picked up one of the fragments and it had a Jap inscription.

Right now we are still under ‘alert’. That means I can’t go out of the house this morning because the Jap sentries stop everybody on the way. They ask for passes or permits and I haven’t any.

There were several fellows here yesterday and the conversation was all about the bombing, of course. Julito thinks they will land in Luzon before Elections. James claims that Atimonan is already being shelled. Mama expects landings somewhere in Batangas. If Mama is right, we may see Romulo and Osmeña and Valdes and good old Mac before the 15th. Batangas is just about fifty miles from Manila.

Deputy Military Governor Figueras was here last night. He said he was called by President Laurel because the President had issued a confidential order “conscripting all able-bodied men from 15 to 50 for labor purposes”. Personally, I believe that labor conscription is worse than military conscription. Under military conscription, you at least get armed and then if you feel like turning around, you can do something about it. With labor conscription, you become human fodder. Imagine having to work in airfields, shipyards and military establishments. Figueras said Laurel told him “Fix this order up to make it look voluntary. The Japs demand Filipino labor for their roads, airfields and military installations.” Figueras said he will try to fix it up to permit substitution. This is a bad arrangement, in my opinion, because only the rich will be able to ‘buy’ substitutes. Figueras said he told Laurel that all young men will go up to the hills if this is publicized. It must be enforced quietly through the neighborhood associations.

Paier, our Swiss neighbor was crying yesterday. He received word that his best friend Carlos Preysler died in Fort Santiago (he must have been tortured to death). Teddy Fernando, a friend of mine from the Ateneo, was arrested a few months ago and his wife recently received word that she may get his corpse from Santiago. After this war, there will probably be many Jean Valjean stories about Santiago.

I’m still very depressed about the news of Eking Albert’s capture. He was actively engaged in guerrilla warfare especially after his daring escape from Muntinglupa Prisons where he was a military prisoner. Raul, who is also in the hills, wrote me a sad account of Eking’s capture. That means that 3 of my close friends are gone. Paquing who disappeared in Cabiao; Johnnie Ladaw who died in Bataan and now… Eking. Of course, there is a chance that Paquing is still alive. Who knows, he may still be in some underground unit?

I’m going to take my breakfast now. I wonder what it is. I haven’t eaten eggs for months now. It costs ₱10. When will I taste bread again and ham and… oh well. Probably it will be a little rice and dried fish because the cook was not able to go to market yesterday. And I don’t think he’ll be able to go today also. It’s good we still have a little supply of canned goods, which we bought four years ago. Heard Dunn of CBS kicking about corned beef the other night in a broadcast to America, imagine!

There goes the siren again….

October 14, 1944

Today’s the first anniversary of the Philippine Republic, heh, heh. Puppet Laurel declared: “The first-year of the Republic has been a success”. He forgot to say that during this republic’s first year, the people have had less and less food. The BIBA has distributed rice only three or four times. There has been no peace and order, no….. oh why crab about it.

More houses are being taken. Revilla’s house is being taken by the MP and so is Dr. Vazquez’. Tio Gabriel complained to Mayor Figueras because Japanese soldiers entered his garden and take a bath under one of the faucets, and they enter his house and sit on his porch!

Tio Phil said that the Japanese will commandeer cars beginning today. We better hide the Buick. As a matter of fact, a Jap went over to the garage of Tia Mameng and wanted to commandeer her car. They’ve taken her house, now her car. When will these people leave us? Tio Gabriel said that someday they’ll take the air we breathe.

People expect bombing today. I’m crossing my fingers. There are many Japanese planes flying right now….

September 30, 1944

Went to the Jai Alai. It will be open only on Sundays. Lost thirty pesos betting on Elizondo and Arana. I dislike the game and the players that go into histrionics and cry to the high heavens everytime they miss a shot. There were a lot of people and many of them were drinking and talking about the recent bombing of Manila. That surprise raid seems to be the only topic these days and the question is still “When will they commence landing operations?”

Went to Tommy Lichauco’s home yesterday. The Navy has sealed his house and they gave him twenty-four hours to vacate it. “We need the tower of your house,” they explained, “for strategic reasons”.

I accompanied Tommy to Deputy Governor Figueras at the City Hall. Figueras told him that the Navy was not authorized to take such an act. “That is not in accordance with our agreement,” said the deputy military governor.

Figueras called the Naval Attaché, a certain Miyasaki, who spoke Spanish well, having stayed in Argentina for quite a time. The Naval Attaché said that he told Tommy that the Navy needed his house in “a week or so or more”. Tommy denied it flatly and the Attaché began to stammer and Figueras said that the procedure would be corrected. The Vice-governor promised to assist Tommy.

Ate lunch today at the Gastronome. It was a poor meal and the bill was very high. Crame joined my table and he said that the Japanese are also taking his house. He was very enthusiastic about the bombing and he admired the bravery of the American aviators. “You should have sen how low they flew and how they dove to their objectives” he said.

Played basketball this afternoon but couldn’t stand one quarter because of the whiskey I drank at the Jai. We won the game anyway with Manolito Moran and Julito Francia scoring the most points.

P.S.

The houses of many rich landowners were searched by the Army yesterday in conjunction with officials of the Ministry of Economic Affairs. This is a desperate move, forced about by the acute rice shortage. People in the slums of Tondo and for that matter the average Manilan no longer eats rice. A sack of rice costs over ₱3,000. So that if you’re just a clerk or for that matter, even if you are a Minister, you won’t be able to afford the price of rice for your entire family, if you just stick to your salary. Leaner days are coming. Maybe we will still see blood being shed for food.

May 21, 1936

Called on Dr. Victor Clark at the Manila Hotel; he is the new economic adviser to this government. He is employed by the Library of Congress of the United States. A great traveler and observer. He is well-balanced, but perhaps a little timid. Has been here before for several visits. He now advises the Filipinos to be cautious is asking for amendments to the Tydings-McDuffie law, and adds that they may get amendments in Congress they do not want. He asked me particularly about the Rice and Corn Corporation–whether all the sales could not be taken over by one organization; I called attention to the fact that most of the rice mills and sales agencies were in the hands of the Chinos. He also told me that formerly he had been disinclined to pay any attention to “chatter politics,” but he had seen them come true in Manchukuo and in Abyssinia. He added that if the Filipinos did not develop Mindanao, some cub reporter today might suggest that that island is just what the Japanese need, and in the end they might get it. I told him of Quezon’s extreme preoccupation with this problem.

Acting High Commissioner Weldon Jones called me to his office to present his report (which I asked for on January 27th!) concerning Colin Hoskin’s proposition that the Philippine Government should purchase silver at 45 cents with some of their dollar deposits in the United States and thus make millions by seignorage. Jones had come to a definite conclusion in opposition. He said the world was too unsettled for such a move, and that any tampering with the currency in the Philippines would alarm businessmen here. He declared the Philippines must not be put on a “silver basis,” since silver is too fluctuating in value as a commodity, and the world is “moving away from it.” He added that China has just gone off silver and has joined the dollar exchange. We then discussed the possible effects of this latter move upon the Japanese. I expressed regret that England’s strenuous attempt to bring China into sterling exchange had failed. The Chinese are sticking like leeches to us, hoping to embroil us with Japan, and England is now willing to have America pull the chestnuts out of the fire; our trade with China is not worth it; Japan has already started a counter-block by setting up local customs houses in the North China block–charging only one-fourth of the standard Chinese duties, and thus intending to flood China with Japanese goods, and so threaten the stability of all loans to China held by foreigners.

Bridge in the p.m. with Nazario, Tobangui and La O.

Big dinner at the Manila Hotel given by Mr. and Mrs. Tommy Wolff as a despedida for Don Andres Soriano who is off on a visit to St Jean de Luz. Both Soriano and Colonel Hodsoll told of telephone conversations by wireless in the last few days with Juan Figueras in Biarritz!

Talk with Benito Razon just back from the United States. He had been recently with a group of Americans who expressed disapproval of the apparent change of heart in the Philippines over independence since the passage of the Tydings-McDuffie law; that this change was no doubt due to the same influence which was causing America to withdraw from activities in the Orient–i.e., the power of Japan; that the demand for free markets for the Philippines in America was based on unfairness of the sanctions in the Tydings-McDuffie law by which America keeps her free market here for ten years, and Filipinos get a free market in the United States for only five years. He agreed with me that the new series of kicks by Americans against the Philippines is based on general indifference (“we never had any good reason for being there anyway”) plus an irritation that Filipinos should have preferred independence to retaining American protection.