January 24, 1945

Every day planes fly overhead, and nearly every day there are bombings and machine gunning. The people of Iloilo and Jaro are getting jittery, and many have left for the hills and countryside where they feel they will be safe from American bombs. Those who stay in the city, are going to the colleges, hospitals, convent, and seminary to seek safety. Today more people arrived at the college from Iloilo. Jaro is like a ghost town.

Two days ago the Japanese closed all roads leading out of the city and anyone caught leaving is severely punished. Guerillas have become so daring that they walk on the streets in Jaro. A Japanese car drove by the plaza and was ambushed by the guerillas, killing 2 Japanese and wounding one. That same day a sentry was posted up in the Jaro Cathedral tower.

A week ago there was an hour of shooting in Jaro and three USAFFE soldiers were killed. This morning the airport was bombed and machine gunned by the Americans. In the afternoon it was the waterfront and the airport again. It is terrible to hear them dive towards their target, knowing that soon the sound will be followed by machine gunning and bombing!

It surely gets on one’s nerves and it affects the appetite, and with the scarcity of food, everyone is becoming thinner. When I first entered the college my weight was down to 85 lbs. but I have gained 4 lbs. as I sleep better and do not feel so nervous.

Dolly has dysentery, but is getting better.

January 20, 1945

We are now all living at San Jose College. The sisters have allocated us two spaces that we use as “bedrooms”. These make-shift “rooms” are created by putting tall furniture like “aparadors” (wardrobes) side by side, or stringing sheets and blankets to make partitions. Coné has set up a small clinic in an adjoining space. Our kitchen and dining space is located at the back of the college. Dorothy and Meñing are with us and have their own space. Besides ourselves, there are two other families sharing this large hall which used to be the refectory (dining hall). It is located downstairs and has very high ceilings and cement walls, so we feel safe here. The college is bursting with refugees and every available space is now occupied by civilians.

January 17, 1945

So many things have happened since December 22, 1944 that I do not know whether I can recall everything, but I will relate the most eventful happenings. The house next door was not burned after all, but the elderly caretaker of the house was kidnapped by the USAFFE soldiers. He was released on the eve of the 23rd and returned to the house. He was so angry that he wanted to tell the Japanese what had happened to him. We suspect he was told by the USAFFE to burn the house, but he refused.

On December 23, 1944 I was awakened around 9:30 p.m. by the sound of a terrible explosion. We jumped from our beds and crawled to Dorothy’s room, which was better fortified. We should have gone downstairs to our shelter instead, but the hand grenades and machine gunning came so fast that we had to lie down flat on our stomachs. I really thought it was the end for us when a loud explosion came from our living room! This explosion was followed by another and we determined that they had come from the Japanese garrison. Later on we found shrapnel upstairs, as well as downstairs. One of the shrapnel was found just a few inches above where Dorothy’s head was, another went through the bed. We were able to get downstairs during a lull. Shortly after we noticed a red glow on the window pane. We realized then that the USAFFE had set the house next door on fire! It began to burn quickly, while all the time the shooting continued between the Japanese and the USAFFE soldiers. During a lull, we heard a dog howl, the caretaker’s dog. Our thoughts went to him and we prayed that he was able to escape. In the meantime, we all got dressed as quickly as we could in case we would have to get out of the house. But how could we, when the Japanese were shooting at every moving object? We decided it was better to take a chance than to be roasted alive! We could call out to them in Nippongo and hope they would hear us. Thank God it was not necessary to leave the house after all, since the wind was blowing the flames in the opposite direction!

After the fire, there was no more shooting and we all retired –- not to sleep, but to relax.

At daybreak, we all went upstairs and found a lot of bullet holes in the house, plus two large ones caused by the explosions last night. Also, pieces of shrapnel and spent bullets from American guns were picked up from the floor. American guns are more powerful than the Japanese.

At 7:00 a.m. a Japanese officer and two soldiers came to the house to investigate last night’s fire. The officer told us that he could not understand why the Filipino USAFFE solders were harassing the civilian population and burning their homes, instead of fighting the Japanese. He said, “We have arms and can return their fire. The civilians are helpless.” We were all silent –- what could we say?

During these troubled times, many of the deaths and burning of civilian homes were caused by personal grudges which people had against one another. Using the USAFFE as a pretext, some unscrupulous persons settled old vendettas. Perhaps such was the case in the house burning last night.

Later during the day, the caretaker’s daughter came to look through the ruins of the house and to find her father’s remains.

Coné also went over to look and under some debris they found part of a leg and the heart, which was partly burned! The pool old man and his dog were the victims of the fire! No one will ever know whether he was killed by a hand grenade (several were thrown at the house) or whether he was burned to death!

After what happened, I decided not to remain in the house another night. That same day Roland and I went to Don Ramon Lopez’s house with a few belongings to stay a few days. On Christmas Day, Coné, Dolly and the boys, together with Dorothy and Meñing Bernas went to San Jose College to seek safer shelter. We took everything with us –- nothing is left in the house.

December 23, 1944

The relatives of the owner of the house next door are now removing all furniture from the empty house. They have brought the dishes and books over to our place for safekeeping.

The USAFFE notified the owner that his house was going to be burned tonight. Thank God the wind will be blowing away from us, so we don’t think it is necessary for us to leave our house.

December 22, 1944

We did not sleep well last night because of all the commotion. About 9:00 p.m. we could hear shooting at different places, and at 11:30 p.m. two shots rang out from the garrison (signal for fire). We got up and looked out. The fire was on the far side of the garrison, near the church. There was an exchange of shooting between the USAFFE and the Japanese. To make matters worse, Roland was sick with an upset stomach and I had just finished taking care of him when all the shooting began.

December 21, 1944

Last night we heard a plane around 9:30 p.m. Although we could no longer hear its drone, suddenly there was a terrible explosion and the house shook! There was no further explosion after this and there was no shooting from the USAFFE. We slept the remainder of the night.

Planes flying overhead awakened us this morning, and all morning we could hear bombing somewhere. At 10:00 a.m. we saw three Japanese planes and one flew very low over our house. Fifteen minutes later we saw 18 American planes. They separated and one flew very low over the rice field behind our house. We all ran for shelter –- some of the other planes machine gunned and bombed the airport.

This afternoon, men were seen entering the vacant house next door. One of the rice pickers suspected them and he immediately notified the relatives of the owner. When the niece of the owner arrived, the floor was already burning. She was able to put out the fire with the aid of Puding, our maid.

December 20, 1944

Last night we could hear bombing in the distance. This morning we saw several planes fly over the Santa Barbara air field. Around noon, a heavy drone was heard and we saw three formations of 4-motor and 8-motor planes. They flew towards Santa Barbara. We watched from the back porch and a few minutes later we heard bombing. Black smoke rose up into the sky. On their way back, they passed over us again. We thought sure the air field near our house would be bombed, but they just flew over like they were on parade. In the afternoon we heard shooting in the direction of the Jaro plaza. We eat our supper early now (between 5:00 p.m. and 5:30 p.m.) as the “fireworks” usually begin around 6:00 p.m.

December 19, 1944

Last night while we were eating supper (6:00 p.m.), several shots rang out followed by more. We all made one run for the stairs leading down to our shelter. The shooting only lasted for a few minutes, and all was quiet.

This morning several planes flew very low over the air field, but they did not bomb. In the afternoon we saw more planes. They really look beautiful in the sky as they appear silvery.

The children are still making ornaments and the house is decorated with bells and wreaths. We still try to keep up the spirit as it helps to keep our minds off of the war.

December 18, 1944

We spent a quiet night and all slept well. This morning we did not hear or see any planes, but in the afternoon 14 planes flew overhead. We always seek shelter as we never know whether they will bomb or not.

The USAFFE has been quiet for a few days, but just a short while ago we heard shooting in the direction of the Jaro bridge. The children are all looking forward to Christmas and are excitedly making ornaments for the tree. Roland says that he knows that Santa Claus cannot come for there is too much fighting.