February 20, 1945

Let us shift our view for a while from this scenario of horrors, and take a look at the Manila of the liberators, as it was narrated to me.

The American High Command has not failed to notice the vandalistic scheme of the Japanese in the attempt to save themselves with the City and with the residents of the Capital, of converting the city into a heap of rubble and killing all the inhabitants, starting with the internees in Santo Tomas.

This was confirmed by some well-meaning Japanese. The program of destruction, murder and suicide, which is being launched in the southern zone is also being planned for the northern section. Written orders to this effect had been found and brought by the guerillas to the headquarters of General MacArthur.

The Japanese did not expect the American advance forces at the approach to Manila until about the 6th or 7th of February, so that on the 3rd, it was supposed that the front line was about fifty kilometers from Balintawak. On the eve of this day, at about 8:00 o’clock, the priests and internees of Santo Tomas heard tanks penetrating through España street. They posted themselves in front of the gate of the University campus. Lights went on and illuminated the buildings. Jubilant shouts and outbursts of joy were heard from the detainees who barely perceived that their liberation was forthcoming. In a few moments, volleys sounded from within and without the campus. The tanks and machine-guns replied. A number of soldiers and guerillas who served as guides fell, among them Manuel Colayco and the young Kierulf who died later. Absolute silence. Total darkness. Then the lead tank barged in through the fence into the campus, followed by seven others and by twenty trucks loaded with troops, the first with lights on, the others without lights. They reached the front of the Main building. Another shout and welcome from the prisoners. A new discharge of fire from the Japanese defenders, and then another sepulchral silence. The monstrous caterpillars kept advancing along the sides of the building until they were positioned one at each alley. Some internees started fraternizing with the liberators and received their first cigarettes, biscuits and canned goods. Other tanks positioned themselves towards the gymnasium and the Education building.

So passed the night.

At daybreak, the capture of the Gymnasium. There were Japanese soldiers there guarding the prisoners. But they fled into the darkness. The Americans scoured the place fearing that the Japanese had hidden themselves in a nearby grassy area. But they could not be found.

Later, the conquest of the Education building. There were some seventy Japanese soldiers dispersed behind the detainees. The Americans appealed to the Japanese to surrender. No response. They were promised to be let free out of the campus. Negative. They were promised to be transported with their arms up to the Japanese lines. The Japanese conceded, and in two trucks they were transported up to the Rotonda.

That was how the campus which had imprisoned some four thousand internees, and, incidentally, occupants of the seminary, was recaptured. But they were so far the only liberated buildings together with those near Malacañang. The rest of the city, during the night of the 3rd and the whole day of the 4th, were still not re-occupied, except in the sense that the liberators were almost in the middle of the capital. But there was only a handful of American troops who had entered the enemy territory. It was a blow which was as bold as it was daring.

The First Cavalry, dismounted but motorized, had left Cabanatuan two days before. As it was left behind forty kilometers from the main body of the advance forces, it opened up a road through Novaliches and Balintawak, Rizal Avenue and Quezon Boulevard, spitting machinegun shells against Japanese troops and trucks they encountered along the way, and penetrating almost into the heart of the city. They were about a thousand men surrounded by Japanese forces bent on defending the city. Their audacity rattle the enemy. If the Japanese had a foreknowledge of the small number of the infiltrating forces, and had they organized a rapid and decisive attack on the Americans, the liberating forces would have been annihilated. They had thirty-six hours to do it and they faltered. Thus were saved the First Cavalry, the American prisoners and the north of Manila.

In the morning of the 5th, when the Japanese initiated a disorganized attack from España street, from Far Eastern University and from Bilibid, the 37th Division had already penetrated the City from the north and from the east, joining the liberators of Santo Tomas, and jointly re-occupying Quezon City and the sector of Manila north of Azcarraga. Malacañan and Bilibid, where some one thousand two hundred seventy war and civil prisoners were detained including those who came from Baguio, were also liberated.

The Japanese began their program of destruction. They placed cans of gasoline and mines in big buildings of the Escolta, and surrounding streets, and destroyed fire engines and equipments. They blew up and burned buildings, and the uncontrollable fires razed the whole of the commercial district from Azcarraga to the Pasig.

On the 6th, the Americans positioned themselves along the Pasig River. The whole northern region was thus liberated, although small groups of Japanese continued burning clusters of houses and forcing the Filipinos under their control to do the same. On the 7th, the battle of the Philippine General Hospital shelled the north of the city, especially the University of Santo Tomas which suffered fifty to sixty hits, mostly on the construction of P. Ruaño, the principal target of the Japanese guns. There was a lamentable number of casualties, some forty dead and three hundred wounded among the recently liberated. In the Education building, five were wounded. In the Seminary, there were only two slight casualties, a priest and a househelp. The attack lasted forty-eight hours.

The Japanese blew up the four bridges across the Pasig. On the 7th, further beyond Malacañan, five battalions of the 37th Division crossed the river in tanks and amphibian trucks and, after fierce fighting, they opened up a path through the cleared areas of Paco and the Gas factory. The Japanese defenders started converting each house and building into a fortress, burning them and killing their occupants when they had to abandon their posts.

In the meantime, the 11th Airborne Division, after a successful landing in Tagaytay, advanced until they joined the first wave at the southern approaches to the capital through Baclaran and Nichols Field. They mopped up these areas, destroying one hundred Japanese fighter planes and capturing seventy-five pieces of artillery and one hundred and twelve machineguns. They then proceeded towards Pasay. The cavalry made a second crossing of the Pasig through Sta. Ana. After a bitter house-to-house fighting, they drove back the Japanese from the hippodrome and from Makati. They then joined the 37th Division near the Paco Railroad station, and the 11th Airborne at the north of the Polo Club.

With these reunited forces, the Japanese defenses in Manila have been isolated and pushed back in Singalong, Malate, Ermita, Paco, Intramuros and the Port Area. American advance is slow. They are not employing the air force and they use the artillery with moderation for the sake of the civilians. The soulless defenders entrench themselves behind houses and concrete buildings, devoting their time more to arson and murder rather than in fighting the liberators. The Americans, in a rapid execution of strategy, were able to save some seven thousand refugees at the General Hospital before the vandals could effect their diabolic plans.

November 18, 1943

Four days of typhoon and devastating floods. Rarely had I seen such torrential rains, and certainly never during this month of November. The flood was high in all streets and ground floors of buildings in all districts of Manila, except Intramuros. The electric plant was inundated and the big light factory of Laguna blew up and for four days we had no light, no streetcars, no telephone, no cooking gas, no newspapers, no radio and almost no running water. Were we in Manila or in Batanes?

According to the old folks, they had not seen a similar flood in the century. In some districts, as Paco, Singalong and Mandaluyong, the water rose to a height of two or three meters. A good number of persons were drowned although the newspapers were silent about them, failing to make mention either of the storm or of its destruction—as if it were another war secret. If the observatory had announced the whereabouts and direction of the typhoon, many would have prepared for it. But the weather, which was the most common topic of conversation, was kept a secret as if on it depended the course of the war.

As the wind blew with greater fury, and the rain fell more torrentially, four big fires broke out.

Mon. Dec. 22/41

Air raid at seven a.m. but it was short. Go to town to send a radiogram to Jack. Leo comes over to eat dinner with us, and we start to Antipolo to find some of the friends. Air raid catches us at Paco, so we do not go. All to Pasay to see Mr. and Mrs. Hernandez who are staying with the boys temporarily. News comes that 80 transports are seen off the coast of Lingayen, and that three are sunk. Looks like a real attack this time. Got a long letter from Juanita she is at Dasmariñas. Willie and Ernest had a nice time at Santa Roxas yesterday with Lerits and Doloreses. Some folks still quite encouraged and have faith that help will come; others say no hope now. I hope there is a convoy on the way.

August 5th Saturday 1899

Breakfast of fried bananas and a “small bird” which I caught last night. About 2 a.m. the rebels took to their old tactics of firing volleys at our outposts so that if we answer they will know where our line is located. But our boys kept still, yet the 21st fired fully 2500 rounds, but then they have not had the experience the Wn have had, for six (6) months ago last night at taps I first heard the crashing of Mausers and today we took St Ana and the Paco Church was burnt.

July 14-Friday, 1899

Took carometa [carromata] for Capeton del Porta and at 9 a.m. the boat up river went off and left me. Carriage to Pasig cost 12 pesos –so took a car and rode out to Macati & telegraphed “No boat –extend pass” –Ans– “Very Well.” City full of sailors & soldiers. Had dinner at Paco –to Circus in eve. Tumblers & Jugglers, good –comedy bum. Slept in 16.

May 13, 1899

Saturday. 21st Infantry start for lines near Waterworks also some regulars start for Lawton’s division to relieve Oregon. In afternoon get Carmetta [and] get Miss Bowman. Go to convent where I bought 2 Spanish & two Philippine bags also some doilies 7 a nickel of Juna [jusi] Cloth. Took some pictures of girls at work & mothers. Then started out through Paco to San Pedro Macati a fine trip through a fine country.

Every inch in rice fields well cultivated. Country is rolling in nature and hills & through a jungle of bamboo etc. Took several pictures along the road and several at San Pedro Macati from Gen. Kings old headquarters. Returning reached home at supper time. Took supper at Chinese restaurant with Tuft & Freeman.

Thursday 2-23-99

The ins. threw out a strong skirmish line –200 yds in front, last night– but we set with our rifles in hand all night. Only a few shots fired & it is tho’t to have been a trap to lure us in and ambush. today has been quiet so far –3 p.m. We strengthened our position and the bait, cut loose occasionally at the church and ridges to s. Heavy firing on lft. back towards Manila. Manila is burning –& the atmosphere is heavy with smoke. Chinese quarter was burned last night & today. Cooler with a slight shower. Paco in ashes –Senora sent me a note –she is safe. took the note 13 days to reach me. Detailed with scouts tonight. Rested them at 9 p.m. Could hear the filips talk & cough. In such places you can hear the heart beat. They came to spring for H²O. Withdrew scouts at 9 a.m.

Wednesday, Feb. 22d, 1899

Manila, Luzon Island –Entry made in parlor of No. 2 Calle Santa Elena Tondo.

Washington’s birthday — I have had a cold in my head the past 2 days. Could hardly sleep last night. Mosquitoes got inside my bar & troubled me. Cooked breakfast & supper, & for dinner bought mince pies, which with lemonade made of lime-fruit cordial did duty as dinner for Private Hines of the Montanas & myself. He came in from the battlefield this forenoon with his Springfield & belt filled with cartridges. Brought his baggage (most of it) from the Battalion barracks to my house for safe keeping. After arranging his stuff in my bedroom together we went down town. Called at the 1st Battalion barracks to see Private Berry, but failed. Berry was absent guarding Gen’l MacArthur’s headquarters. Then we went to the quarters of the 2 & 3d Battalions. Looks empty. The men are out at the front. Called a second time on our way back to see Berry. Failed again. Were in a carromata. Dropped in at the post office. Received a publication –Spanish– 1 copy — from Bro. Armstrong of Barcelona. Then drove home. I paid the Filipino driver 30 cents for hire of his vehicle. Prayed with Hines a couple of times & counseled him to be spiritual & not allow the savagery of war to do him hurt in his soul — to remember that he is above all a saint. Gave a good account of Lloyd & Freeman, says they are O.K.

A Colorado soldier met me on the street car. Invited me to come out & visit the Colorados. Promised to do so. Hines (if memory is true) said Capt. Grant of the Utah’s requested permission of Gen. McArthur to fire a cannon shot at the Insurrectos to get his range. The Gen’l assented but on second thought he requested the Capt. not to fire as it might stir the Filipinos up to give battle. This he wished to avoid. The policy now seems to be delay until reinforcements arrive.

The Filipinos are trying a suicidal policy. About 8 o’clock Monday night they set fire to their houses in Paco district of Manila. Some of the Filipino men were dressed in women’s clothes. The First Washington Vol. Inf. had a hard time fighting fire but by 4 a.m. yesterday got it under control yet not until about $1,000,000 worth of property was destroyed. It is estimated over 200 houses were burned. They (the Filipinos) threaten to destroy this city. Will have to be watched closely.

Private Green of B. Battery Utah Light artillery called again this p.m. Wanted to borrow money — the third time. Prayed with him. Green is very eccentric.

Tied in parcels & cataloged some of my curios & relics, also wrapped up Spanish MSS.

Down in the yard under our parlor window my landlady Mrs. Ysabel Wood, has had a young hog staked over the past 2 or 3 weeks. Last night the porker died. The diseased animal was cleaned and taken down on a public plaza for sale. One half was sold for $4. Mex. Tomorrow she expects (I heard) to realize $5. in the remaining half. People are peculiar in this country.

x x x x x x x

9. p.m. A great fire is in progress in another part of the city some say in Trozo Dist., some in Santa Cruz. The sky is bright with flame & dense columns of smoke is rising heavenward. The electric lights went out about 10 minutes ago. –The guards have been doubled I hear. — From my back window a grand sight is visible. Binondo Church tower stands out against the bright glare and the dark silent cascos show on the red water plainly. The natives are probably up to mischief. They threatened to burn this city — the fire at Paco and the one raging now appears to be on that line of action. This war promises to be extremely disastrous to them by the time it ends.

A strange thing tonight is the noise & music coming from a circus. Imagine a circus amusing people while flames are destroying fortunes.

I have just counted 12 Filipino men ( supposed to be friendly) & mestizos in my back yard sitting around (some) & some watching the fire from the stone gateway facing the estuary. Some of the Filipinos are whistling “There’ll be a hot time in the old town tonight.” How the sublime & the ridiculous oftentimes meet!

February 5, 1899

We were called to arms at 4 a.m., had our breakfasts and then left for the 6th Artillery Battery and then on to Paco Cemetery at Mole, where we were deployed as skirmishers at the rear of the battery. We received orders to advance at 8 a.m. We had to wade through rivers with water up to our breasts. Jack Ward was nearly drowned here but I pulled him out. My watch stopped at 8.10 a.m. as it had got full of water. We captured San Pedro Mercati [Makati] at 11 a.m. Sergeant Maher was killed here and his brother wounded. Corporal Murphy was shot in the calf of the leg and Lieutenant Hogan through the shoulder. Sergeant Wall was also wounded. It took the 14th US Regulars until 4.30 p.m. to capture Santa Ana where they had to blow up the church. We all went into camp at San Pedro Mereati [Makati].