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.

January 7, 1945

Sunday started out fine. Bombing started early this morning with dive bombers. They shook up Grace Park and what appeared to be along the river in San Francisco del Monte. The real fun started later when the four motored bombers came over. They sowed small demolition bombs over that area like scattering seeds. Never saw anything like it. It seemed that the whole place was blowing up at the same time. The windows shook here in Santo Tomas like in a heavy thunderstorm.

That is one thing we got out of this. We, on the third floor have a fine view of Grace Park, Quezon City, Camp Murphy, Zablan Field, and the Marikina Valley in the distance. We have a box seat that many people would gladly pay thousands of dollars to see. And it is quite safe in here. Our planes silenced a lot of Jap anti-aircraft guns today. The last time our planes were over today (that is about 3:30 p.m.) there was very little gunfire anywhere.

The Japs have been very busy all day. Packing up boxes and other baggage, loading it on carts and trucks and leaving the camp. It sure looks good now.

The story is that there will be 20 Jap soldiers to guard the camp and only six rifles for the men who are actually on post. The Internee guards will take over inside the fence. Maybe a rumor. We’ll know more later. Note: Lots of the Japs left but there are plenty of guards left.

We had rice and camotes fried together for supper — pretty good. But we will have good chow in a very few days.

Oh, the Japs killed the beef that we were in hopes of getting and took it with them. They also killed their pigs. Oh hum, we’ll get some one of these days

January 6, 1945

Air raid alarm at 7:45 a.m. Eight planes bombed and strafed Nichol’s, Neilson, and Zablan; later a whole bunch of dive bombers worked on them again including Grace Park. Two flights of B-24’s came over during the morning — no bombing close by — probably farther south.

Plenty of raids throughout the day. Our boys mean business now. Won’t be long now.

Note: Grennell, Dugglby, and Larsen were taken outside last night and were told to and did dress in winter clothing. Looks like Japan for them. Not so hot.

Had a rounding ladle of boiled camotes with gravy tonight. Not enough but they tasted good for two reasons. It was a change and they were sweet.

Japanese were burning papers up till 10:00 p.m. and packing boxes and hauling them out of the camp in trucks. Some of our men who went out to the Insular Cold Stores yesterday to get camotes saw the Japanese burning papers on the Plaza in front of that plant. Looks good.

November 5, 1944

Airraid at 7:30 a.m. Could hear our planes before alarms went. Heavy bombing at Zablan, Nichols, and Neilson air fields. Several dog fights. I saw one plane come down in flames. It was spinning like a top, nose down. It was said that six others were shot down over toward the South.

Saw one flight of our planes, 32 in all. Quiet again at 8:15 a.m. 9:30 a.m. another wave of planes came over. Heavy bombing. Another plane fell and blew up at Zablan Field. Alarm again at 12:50. Two more in the afternoon.

June 11, 1941

Despite Hitler’s nightly air raid, Churchill’s England keeps fighting back.  Their radar system are a great help.  The PA’s two elite branches, the OSP and PA Air Corps (PAAC) are busy with their training programs.  Because they are located in Manila area  our classmates easily maintained contact and found ethos sympathetic to our PMA experience.  I became a  sort of message center being stationed in Port Area and residing in Manila, among my classmates from the different PA branches far and wide.

My classmate who kept me abreast of the goings on at PAAC is Cav Alberto “Kabayan” Aranzaso, a close chum at PMA.  PAAC Hq is located at what was popularly known as Nichols Field but their specific base is called Zablan Field (now Villamor AB) named after an early pioneer, Maj Porfirio Zablan PCA ’15, who died in a plane crash. Out of the 32 class ’40  that tried out, 17 finally got their wings.  Tomas Tirona was the first to solo flight while Nolasco Escobar with his instructor Maniquis, crashed,  killing Maniquis and an Air Field was named after him.  Escobar survived and got his wings.

To date, my 17 PAAC classmates are assigned to various post  participating in rigorous training.  Alberto Acena and Pedro Baban are with the 9th Obsvn Sqdn in Cebu; Mariano Punzalang, Pedro Bartolome,  Crisosostomo Monta, and Damian Pavon are with the 7th Adv Trng Sqdn Maniquis Field, Cabanatuan, as flight instructors: Bartolome Cabangbang, Alberto Aranzaso, Urbano Caldoza, Horacio Farolan, and Pedro Aragon are with the 6th Pursuit Sqdn under 1st Lt Jesus Villamor; Tomas Tirona was appointed Comdt PAAC Basic Flying School with Lauro Ello, Nolasco Escobar, Victor Osias, and Epifanio Segovia as Flight Instructors.

After getting his wings and qualifying as an air pilot, Francisco Vitug, crashed his plane, survived but lost an eye.  He transferred branch of service to Finance Service (FS).  PAAC is proud of the fact that then Maj. Dwight Eisenhower while on the staff of MacArthur and helped establish PMA, learned to fly and earned his wings under the of PAAC, particularly credited to Lt Pelagio Cruz ’35 of Bulacan.