October 20, 1944

There was an alarm today but the raiders did not pass overhead, giving our shattered nerves a respite from the thunderous experiences of the past days. The raiders, at least, had been considerate enough to allow us to sleep and eat in peace, although the mere sound of a car was enough to make us stand on our toes. This was true among us who had experienced the explosion of bombs over our heads. We were perhaps the most affected, or to put it mildly, the most terrified. There were some exceptions—the Fathers who watched the bombings from the tower where they could see but not be seen.

A bomb fell yesterday near the Legazpi-Urdaneta monument, up an enormous crater, burying alive thirty-one persons who died of asphyxiation. They were in a shelter nearby. At the explosion, mounds of earth and a big uprooted tree covered the entrance.

The Luneta was turned into a forest of anti-aircraft guns. There was such a shower of exploded shells and stray bullets that even those who stayed in light houses could not be protected. If anyone was spared by the metallic fragments, it was someting miraculous. A roof of GI sheets and a wooden floor were as easily pierced as if they were made of paper.

August 4, 1944

I went to Santo Tomas yesterday with Dorothy’s pass for renewal. Saw old Mrs. G. who looks so ill. Her husband is still in Fort Santiago. The Japs renewed her pass without question. I had to wait at the entrance gate while the guard took my case up to the ofice. I dropped a note behind the bench on which I was sitting and saw feet slowly walking on the other side of the fence. A hand reached to pick up the note and I knew it would get to the rightful person.

If the internees were even getting fair war-prisoner treatment, we would not be so dreadfully uneasy. But they aren’t. Several more cancer cases have been sent out to the Philippine General Hospital. I went to see them a day or two ago and they told me what is really happening. The Japanese are trying to break down their morale by starvation and petty vexations, such as frequent roll calls, undignified labor assignments, surprise inspections. They may starve them, but American morale will not break.

It was sad to learn of Quezon’s death. As I took a look at the bay the other day, full of dilapidated dirty ships, the filthy streets, the famed luneta fenced off with barbed wire, the foxholes, gun emplacements, trenches and all the awful evidence of war, I thought how tragic it was that Quezon could not live to bring Manila back to her old glory.

May 5, 1943

This morning, there was another gathering at the Luneta in honor of Premier Tojo. The invitation to join the crowd was extended to students and members of the religious groups. According to the papers, some 300,000 persons, about one third of the population of the Greater Manila area, came freely and voluntarily to see and listen to the Chief of the Japanese State. I suppose one zero must have slipped into the press in giving the figures in gatherings like this. For the first time, English was not used. The speeches were either delivered in or translated into Tagalog.

President Vargas delivered a short but substantial speech, condemning and denouncing the ominous American tyranny and extolling Japanese benevolence to high heavens. The speech reached the peak of its fervor with the promise and offer of all the material and moral support of the Philippines so that Japan might completely crush the remaining Anglo-American forces. Did the illustrious visitor take the speech seriously, or considered it as a mere manner of speaking?

Premier Tojo was also brief and concise. He said, in part:

The Japanese Empire is now providing you with all possible assistance, that you may emerge from the chaos and whirlpool of the old regime and enter the glorious existence of the new. For the present I speak in the name of my country and its one hundred million free inhabitants, that this help will continue without reservation through the future. I am happy to state that on my arrival in this country, I found in all places tangible proofs of your growing desire to cooperate more closely with the Japanese Imperial government. With great satisfaction I note that you have speedily progressed in your endeavor of creating a new Philippines, and that under these circumstances, I am more than ever convinced of the convenience of granting you an early independence.

May 4, 1943

Parades and meetings are a common sight at the Luneta. In less than a month’s time, eight gatherings and parades had been held with compulsory attendance before the monument of Rizal. These celebrations are held for any reason whatsoever, and they prove to be more burdensome than ordinary working days because people have to march through the parades.

The forthcoming holiday which will be a three-day vacation will be celebrated in memory of the fall of Corregidor and to give thanks for the permanent defeat of the Americans. As usual, the occasion will be celebrated to the beat and accompaniment of parade marches. There is a rumor that the celebration will be a welcome ceremony for an illustrious personage who will visit us, probably Minister Aoki. To our surprise, it was announced by a lead team that the visitor was General Tojo himself, the Prime Minister and Chief of State. The announcer, equipped with a powerful loudspeaker, blared out instructions to the multitude along Taft Avenue from Vito Cruz to Manila Hotel, on how to make the bow when the Premier should pass, and to wave the flags and shout Banzai.

Speculations ran high on what the purpose of the sudden visit could be. The people, however, due to the sacrifice they had to undergo standing in the heat of the sun, felt contempt rather than enthusiasm.

December 8, 1942

We have completed one year of war. Even the pessimistic estimate that the war would not last another ten months, and the optimists are not expecting that peace would settle on these islands in 1943. Only the fanatics are predicting the return of peace by the 15th of the month.

The new masters wanted the public to participate in the festivities at the Luneta, and they had succeeded in doing it. The newspapers placed the number of participants at a hundred thousand in the civil parade and a similar number of spectators. It showed beyond doubt that the public responded to the call of the authorities, spontaneously or otherwise. Government employees and those in Japanese-controlled firms may not have shown enthusiasm, but certainly there was a healthy respect for those at the top. Everyone was resigned to answering “Present!” when his name was called from a list. The Chinese were very enthusiastic, participating with their musical band and a 20-meter dragon in a funeral rejoicing.

The streets were very animated. Streetcars and buses offered free rides to the public. Movie houses which showed Japanese war victories also admitted the public free of charge. Due to this liberalism, an unusual stir, interpreted as an expression of popular rejoicing, could be felt in the city.

June 3, 1942

The occupation army held a military parade at the Luneta to celebrate the end of military operations in the Philippines. Some 80 tanks, canons of all calibers, anti-aircraft guns mounted on trucks, and motorized infantry men paraded through Burgos Avenue. The din was deafening.

Fifty planes flew overhead in perfect formation, three of which performed aerial acrobatics. There were other displays of military might in other avenues which we did not witness. There was no brass band, unlike in other military parades of the past years, where the brass bands constituted a major attraction.

The districts around the Luneta were made off-limits to traffic, and since early morning, no one could leave Intramuros or Ermita. People were requested to close the windows of higher floors and watch the parade from the sidewalks or from ground floors.

At the Luneta, only invited guests were allowed to enter and view the parade, namely, General Homma and his retinue, the high officials of the army and the government, and some representatives of Allied or neutral governments.

As the gates of the Walled City were closed, people could not go to their respective places of work, nor to the market. We therefore could not buy our supplies for the day. And as we did not want to go on a fast, Fr. Sadaba and myself decided to play mendicants, appealing to the charity of our guests. We jumped over the barrier that separated us, and went to their kitchen, which was ours in the place. With signs—we have been improving our use of the language of the mutes—we made them understand that we had nothing to eat. The cook, a typical representative of his profession—good-natured, corpulent, with wall-sized shoulders and a pair of elephantine biceps—opened their, or better still, our refrigerator and gave us a basketful of eggs, meat, tomatoes and eggplants.

A kitchen aide approached us and, forming a cross with his fingers, asked, “Kristu?”

“Yes, we Kristu,” meaning we were Christians.

He pointed to himself and said, “Kristu.”

“Oh, you Kristu,” we said, and we laughed and nodded our heads in mutual understanding.

“Nagasaki,” he continued.

“You from Nagasaki?” Nagasaki is the center of Catholicism in Japan. He started counting with his fingers, asking how many Christians we were.

We answered, also with our fingers, that we were twelve Christians in that place. The good Japanese appeared well-pleased.

We glanced at their food storeroom and saw that there were basketfuls of fruits and vegetables, sacks of rice and big quantities of meat and fish. We could not help gazing with envy at the big cauldrons overflowing with steaming rice and big chunks of meat, as if in preparation for a big feast.

If only we could understand one another, we and the tenants could be of mutual assistance to each other. They could help us materially and we could help them spiritually. We could see that they were eager to converse with us. But in spite of their gesticulations and their practice in the art of mimicry, we still find ourselves at a loss.

We just found out that these soldiers are pilots or air cadets, some of whom had taken part in the bombing of Intramuros. Every morning most of them are fetched by magnificent buses, and we imagine that they are taken to an airfield.

They must have been assigned their living quarters in this residential place so that enemy planes may not get to them. Perhaps they do not feel secure within the vicinity of an airfield. We are only hoping that the flying fortresses would not spot them and drop some bombs on our place!

December 9, 1941

About 2:00 A.M. was awakened by distant explosions & shaking of the building. Jumped from bed & ran outside. Explosions & gun fire from Nichols field accompanied by a myriad of red flares. Staid up discussing the situation with some apprehension. At 4:00 A.M. all hands called to Sternberg as casualties started arriving from Iba & Clark Field. These continued to come in all day keeping the O.R. constantly busy. Very difficult to keep admissions straight & impossible to keep locator cards accurate due to the large number of transfers. Patients were brought in in trucks, ambulances, etc. The trucks having several layers of patients most of whom had gruesome wounds. Many had shrapnel wounds of the buttock. During the morning all the patients from the Naval hospital at Canacao were brought into Sternberg. Most were put in estate Mayor annex. About 12:30 we sighted 54 two motored bombers flying high. No clouds & was difficult to watch them because of sun. Was a beautiful sight paradoxically. They flew from the north almost directly over head and it was laughable the way our A.A. went to work. The bursts were seen at all points of the campass & those that were in the general direction of the planes were several thousand feet short. No pursuits went to intercept them for as we learned later, practically all our air force had been wiped out by the previous days bombing at Iba, Clark, & Nichols Fields. For some unexplained reason our B-17’s & pursuits were held on the ground all lined up nicely so that a minimum amount of bombs were required. (This is hearsay about the plane destruction). The bombers dropped a few on Nichols completing their devastation there & went out to Cavite & after a dry run came back over the Navy yard & really unloaded. They skipped the hospital & then hit the radio towers. It was an accurate sample of bombing completely putting the place out of commission. There were several thousand workers in the yard at the time and the amount of casualties were untold. About 4:00 P.M. casualties were brought by boat to the A & N Club landing and to the navy pier between pier 1 & pier 3. These continued to come by boatload thruout the nite. The injuries were terrific –Many compound fractures & barge loads of dismembered corpses were brought over & stacked in vehicles to be carted away to the morgue for identification & burial. I was at Port Area evacuating a boat loaf of about 100 patients at midnite when the sirens came on. I sent the loaded ambulances on to Sternberg & after some consultation, the skipper decided to push out into the bay until the raid was over & then return & unload the remainder. I took the remaining ambulances up to the Luneta to wait as we figured port area was due & it is hard to stay hitched in a place like that.

August 29, 1909

In the early morning of Sunday, the 29th of August, we sailed through the Corregidor Islands and Sailed into the large Manila Bay. We soon noticed the lighthouse of the city of Manila in the distance, and soon after this the numerous lights of the city. At 5 o’clock we stopped a few miles from the city and at 6 o’clock we sailed into the harbor. The eyes of all of us gazed in satisfaction at the old walls and fortresses that surrounded the city. Manila is over 300 years old. The ship dropped anchor by the government storehouse at about 7 o’clock. We watched the foreign faces of the Malayans and Chinese with interest. The Chinese coolies began to load the ship with coal.

At 9 o’clock, we received permits so that we could disembark and go through the city, we had leave until midnight. Oh, how pleasant it was after the long and arduous 24 day journey across the sea, to once again stand on dry land. The tropical Philippine sun above us shone strongly. After an 8 minute walk, we stepped through an ancient gate built by the Spaniards 300 years ago in the city of Manila. After some hundred steps, we entered a square with an old cathedral and many of us went to thank the Almighty for getting us through this journey, then we turned and scattered through this foreign and unknown city of Manila. At noon, I ate with my friend Fitzpatrick in a Spanish restaurant, in the afternoon I went through the city again and into Luneta park. In the evening at about 10 o’clock, I went back to the Buford steamboat to bed.

July 3d, 1899.

My DEAR CHRISTINE: In spite of the fact that you owe me several letters, I am going to write you on a piece of Spanish legal paper I picked up in a house in Manila and thought it was a little odd. I went to Manila Saturday, and had a little change in food and air. Manila is nearly four miles from this station, and a pleasant, shady road leads into the town. Last year there was some heavy fighting all up and down this way, and there are remains of burnt houses everywhere.

There are some street railway tracks running into the city, and during the fighting some of the cast-iron ties were removed and made into breastworks. The telegraph poles are of iron, and a great many of these were missing, having been torn down and used as defences. The natives always carry their market produce and a few other articles into the markets early in the morning, and they hurry with their picturesque costumes, carrying everything either on the head, or in
the case of a man it is carried by means of a rod of wood with two baskets, or whatever the receptacle is, and it is remarkable how strong these natives are in the neck, shoulders, and legs. The people have good faces generally, and do not look like a down-trodden race. They are beginning to have a wholesome respect for the American Soldado ; we are ahead of them in size and energy, but not in cunning. I did not have to walk far that morning. I meta native public carriage, called a carretita [carretela], and I should have called it the “ one-hoss shay,” or a relic of the Ark. Away we bounced, jounced, and spanked, into Manila, and I stopped at the Hotel de Oriente, for a cool drink and a little rest. There was a staff officer from General Lawton’s staff having a drink of water, and I joined him. Finally I took a carriage and saw the paymaster. Of course he was glad to see me, and feeling better in pocket, I left him and drove along the Luneta to the Army and Navy Club, where I expected to meet this staff officer. I did not find him, so went and lunched at a first-class boarding-house on the San Luis road, near the water. This is the best boarding-house I have been able to find, and while there is not
much show, everything is good.