December 1944
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Month December 1944

December 31, 1944 — Sunday

Left at 3:30 p.m. from home to Tacloban airfield. Left on an L-5 at 4:45 p.m. landed Burauen air strip at 5 p.m. This is the field where the Japanese paratroopers landed recently. Went to Colonel Parker’s place. Rotten evening. Too much drinking.

4th day, December 31,1944

Early this morning, we are in front of Pt. Siaton. We just eat bananas for breakfast, I drink coconut water & eat its meat for my morning meal. We have no drinking nor cooking water. We have been trying to land somewhere behind the point but unsuccessfully, the water along the beach has a rough bed of rocks. We are heading for [?] reaching it at four p.m.

We land here to get water, get a much-needed bath and physical evacuation. We cook our supper on shore and have a very hearty meal. Green coconut water and meat have refreshed us.

We are just one third away from our next and final objective in Luzon.

The two other sail boats of our party have not shown up here. They have been left behind.

We are now [?] It is about 6 p.m. I am lying down preparatory to sleep. This is my 3rd New Year’s Eve in hiding.

December 29-30, 1944

Nothing unusual. Finished this morning hearing Torres’s case.

3rd day, December 30, 1944

From Bad-as, we are now hitting the trail to the sea below Sniogbuhan San Joaquin. We are here very early—thoroughly exhausted. Our presence attract the attention of people on the beach. We have eaten our breakfast hurriedly. Our sailboats have been waiting for us. We immediately board them and [?] sail with Point Siaton in Negros as our objective. We feel slightly nervous, for we have to pass through Japcontrolled waters between Panay & Guimaras. Thank God, no Jap motor boat pops up. The wind is intermittently blowing, and we drifted into the mouth of the strait for a while. An East wind blows now, late in the evening. We are now heading fast to Siaton. We feel safe now from the enemy.

2nd day, December 29, 1944

We proceed to Osorio early this morning, reaching it when the sun is beginning to be hot. Here we changed the cargadores of my hammock. Eight men are here to meet us. They are almost naked, lean & look famished and undersized due to malnutrition. We find them too weak for the job, so the EP9O carrying me have to take their place, and these Osorio men are given the baggage to carry, instead of the hammock. From where we slept last night to Osorio, I notice new clearings on the edge of the forest—this should be stopped immediately.

Our objective is Badas through Poras. We reach this point slightly after midnight, tho’ we have been made to believe by [?] that we would make it by sunset.

At Bad-as every one feels exhausted. The day’s heat has been very enervating on all of us. Here a change of cargadores meet us.

December 28, 1944 — Thursday

In Tacloban nothing unusual. Presided at meeting of Board of Inquiry hearing Torres case.

1st day, December 28, 1944

We leave [Panay] today early, with Osorio as our objective for the night. The day is cloudy and the sun has not come out with its heat. We have made in good time the rough mountain trails, hitting a point a little over Osorio at about 7 p.m. Here we bivouac for the night, on the edge of a little stream. My cargadores sleep on the ground under a huge rock. We take our rest in a vacant small cottage, wherein three of us fit in snugly.

My companions are Roberto, my eldest son, Patsy, my nephew, Sp. Dep. Govs. Golez & Afatalicis. P.S. Serelina is our principal guide.

December 27, 1944 — Wednesday

We had breakfast with Colonel Bradley Commanding Officer 8th Cavalry Regiment. We were then informed that a B-25 has crashed landed in the bay not far from the beach. We went to the spot but the pilots were gone. The plane was under shallow water. We asked two men to dive inside the plane to find out if there were any drowned men. There were none. The divers were able to retrieve the parachutes & briefcases of the pilot and crew. Proceeded to La Paz where we took jeeps and proceeded to General Hoffman’s Command Post 25 miles north. Had dinner with him. Returned to Tacloban arriving about 8 p.m.

December 26, 1944 — Tuesday

Left 9 a.m. with General H.F. Hoffman Commanding General 2nd Cavalry Brigade and Colonel Crossman for Catbalogan. Arrived there at 1:10 p.m. At 2 p.m. we went to the provincial Capitol to meet the people and provincial officials. We made brief and informal investigation of the activities of the Provincial officials during the Japanese occupation. Spent the night in the boat.

December 25, 1944 — Monday

In Tacloban. Had lunch with General Frink Commanding General USASOS in his quarters aboard the SS Mactan, in the bay. Spent the rest of the day quietly.

December 24, 1944 — Sunday

In Tacloban. Went to Midnight Mass in the church. Returned home immediately and retired.

December 22, 1944

President Jose Laurel, Chief Justice Jose Yulo and all cabinet ministers left early this morning for Baguio. The presidential convoy was accompanied by two truckloads of Jap troops armed with mg’s, two trucks of Malacañang guards, one car of P.C. men and one car of detectives. The convoy consisted of thirty or more cars. The President and the Chief Justice and Ministers left with their families. All Aviles, San Rafael and the vicinity of Malacañang were surrounded by a protective cordon of policemen, P.C. men and M.P.’s since last night to early this morning because all the puppet leaders and their families slept at Malacañang. Gen. Tomoyuki Yamashita, Jap Commander-in-Chief was said to have attended the last conference of the President and cabinet at Malacañang last night. Yamashita reportedly assured the puppets that the Japanese Army guarantees their safety. The Open City declaration was also informally discussed.

Amid persistent rumors regarding probable declaration of Manila as an Open City in view of continuous movement of Jap troops and installations and the transfer of the seat of government and the Jap Embassy to Baguio, first concrete indications were obtained from Mayor Leon Guinto’s office where draft of Open City manifesto is reportedly being drawn. President Jose P. Laurel will subsequently announce the Open City declaration formally, according to rumors. Manilans feel relieved at the sight of outgoing large numbers of Jap troops. Some fear the Sakdals might take over the reins of government. Others hope the G’s come in and drive out the Japs and Sakdals. Greatest wish is that the Americans “hurry up about Mindoro and land in Luzon proper and dash over to Manila whose gates gave been left open by Japs.”

Man being battered during the recent zonification of barrio Teresa, Sta. Mesa, two days ago, died of skull fracture. Blood oozed out of the man’s nose, mouth and ears. A total of 12 persons were killed in raid zonification. Victims were bayoneted to death.

Dr. Antonio Sison, president of the U.P. and head of P.G.H., was taken by the Military Police last night. The MP’s were dressed in civilian clothes.

In Rosario and Binondo districts, Japs picked up people in the streets this morning. They forced the unlucky ones to work with Jap soldiers. George Dee, prominent Manila businessman, was made to work for an hour in Rosario. Mr. Tong, laison officer of Chinese Assocation, tried to ask for an exemption, claiming that he had work to transact with Japanese officers. The reply was: “Military needs first. You help build the barricade.”

Saw three truckloads of Jap dead. The trucks were covered with leaves.

December 21, 1944

Significant developments. Puppet P.I. government moving to Baguio. Laurel and all Ministers including Manuel Roxas scheduled to leave for Baguio last night. Jap Embassy also hurriedly packing to transfer to Baguio. Jap Dept. of Information burning papers, will continue propaganda in Baguio. Speaker B. Aquino remained in Manila, promised to go up after wedding of his son Billy. Minister Antonio de las Alas expressed fear Japs will eventually bring P.I. cabinet to Tokyo. Gen. Paulino Santos, head of P. Constabulary, will reside in Malacañan. Japs planning to give Sakdals thru Makapili more extensive powers in Manila government.

Further indications Japs vacating Manila: big shipyard and iron works in Findlay & Miller docks being dismantled; ammunition dump in Pinaglabanan being transferred. All telephone installations of buttai 2944 in City being removed. Jap leather factory in Aviles has stopped work. Wives of Jap civilians left by train last night. Preparations to move sick Jap soldiers from Quezon Institute now underway. Non-stop movement of troops, trucks, tanks, artillery in Manila roads. Soldiers are in full pack. Trucks loaded with supplies and baggages. Roads leading to the outskirts of Manila filled with Japs leaving the city hurriedly.

Manilans agog by these new developments. Morale of people has risen to skies. Jap morale evidently on the downgrade. An old Jap who had been here 10 years said: “What do you think of all these things?” Manilans think Americans will be in Manila by the 15th of January. Landings will be effected “maybe before Christmas or New Year”. People suspect landings in Batangas. Everybody is in gay spirits. “No better Christmas could be had!” some say. Talk of open city revived.

Barrio Teresa, Sta. Mesa, zonified yesterday morning. All houses in said barrio searched. About 400 males corralled near Sta. Mesa market. Everybody made to sit under sun. One man being battered with a blunt instrument kept shouting, pleading: “Somebody please kill me, please, please, please.”

Victor Pagulayan, assistant manager of Naric, dying. After leaving Fort Santiago he was brought to the hospital. Several liters of water have been taken from his lungs.

Indications rise that RICCOA, newest rice agency, may be able to distribute around 600 sacks for Manila before Christmas, if Japs permit. It is reliably known that Japs have recently decided to take “all rice that can be procured from Central Luzon because of military needs.” Rice to be harvested will not be deposited in Jap bodegas in City. Harvest will be stored in warehouses along Central Luzon. This again indicates Jap intention to leave Manila. This will naturally worsen food situation in City, increase hunger-deaths. Doctors of San Lazaro hospital estimated that deaths due to chronic hunger in city around 500 daily. Many walking in streets can be seen suffering from vitamin deficiencies. Beri-beri rampant especially among lower classes.

With all these significant developments, I am of the opinion that Gen. Yamashita recognizes the untenability of defending Manila. The more troops he keeps here, the more will be sacrificed. Manila is indefensible due to its many exits and entrances. Consequently, Yamashita has taken away from city all material and people like the puppets whom he would not like to see in the hands of Americans. He has sent the bulk of his troops to the north. He has sent a minimum force to guard the coasts of Tayabas and Camarines and Batangas, most possible landing points. Yamashita realizes that his troops in the coastline will only be decimated by U.S. aerial and naval bombardment. Coastline of P.I. is flat and open. No natural protection to defenders from skies. Yamashita expects to make his stand in the north with his back to Japan. There he has natural protection, mountains, cliffs and food.

People are waiting for the zero hour. When, when will it come? Opinions range generally “from Christmas” to the first 15 days of January. Up to now the furthest I’ve heard is “around the month of March.”

Meanwhile collaborators have changed tune, speak differently. Even Aquino is changing his opinions. Opportunists, perhaps.

Guerillas are increasing in numbers. Some believe capitol of Batangas, taken by guerillas, with aerial support.

December 17, 1944

Landings in Mindoro.

Heard people talking about it in street-corners yesterday afternoon. The news spread like wild-fire: landings in Mindoro, Mindoro, Mindoro.

The Japs are stumped. American planes had complete dominion of the air over Luzon. They kept flying over Manila all day yesterday.

From the morning of December 15th to the evening of December 17th, Americans were in the air, bombing, strafing, reconnoitering. Traffic of trucks, movement of troops and supplies, were completely paralyzed. Bridges in Calumpit and Pampanga were bombed. Japs couldn’t move around in their cars, trucks, trains and boats.

Not a single Jap plane flew up to challenge the Americans.

Many and varied comments from people yesterday: The bombing was very accurate. The American planes circled over targets many times before dropping bombs. Japs have spread their dumps in private houses. Guerillas have given information to the Americans. Accuracy was important. They had to hit targets in between residences of civilians to minimize destruction and casualties. I saw an American plane flying just above the rooftop of our neighbor’s house. It flew very low.

Radio reports that 245 Jap planes were grounded in the Luzon area.

This morning in church the people forgot about the non-stop three-day raid, talked about the landings in Mindoro. Many people that were already depressed by the ‘delay’ in Leyte because of the Jap stand in Ormoc coupled by the bad weather, had happy faces in church this morning.

Consensus is that the Americans will finish with Mindoro in “a couple of days” and then “they will land in Luzon proper before Christmas.”

Some think: “New Year’s” …Happy New Year!

People believe landings will be effected in Batangas. It is very near Mindoro. “You can swim across,” said someone.

Personally, I believe the Mindoro landing is just a feint. A diversionary move. Main effort will be exerted in the eastern coast of either Tayabas or Camarines.

MacArthur now has the Jap Commander-in-Chief guessing. “Where will Mac land?” is the question today. Second question: “When will he land?” As far as I am concerned, I don’t care where, I only care for the ‘when’. I am damned tired of waiting.

Greatest surprise to most people has been the Japanese admission that landings have been effected by Americans in Mindoro. This is a great change in their news dissemination policy. Previously, they kept quiet about such landings. Now they have announced it as soon as possible.

Japs probably realize that they can no longer fool the people. You can’t talk of “Japanese aerial superiority” when Americans skylark without a single Jap interception. You can’t say there are still no landings when you hear the roar of cannons.

Japs probably want to prepare the people’s mentality. They want to prepare them for the big thing: the landings in Luzon.

Japs have not yet admitted Leyte campaign is finished, because they keep saying that their para-troop units have captured several aerodromes in Leyte.

Meanwhile food prices are going higher and higher. The masses can no longer afford the food. No rice. No viands. Only vegetables at prices that are fantastic.

The people say: “Never mind all that… as long as they return!”

December 16, 1944

I went biking yesterday to see the effect of the bombing yesterday and to hear the comments of the people.

Streets were empty. Traffic was paralyzed. Army trucks and cars moved around with camouflage nets. Many sentries posted in street corners.

42 civilians were wounded in Parañaque. Saw them in corridors of the P.G. Hospital. Most of them were hit by Jap A.A. shells which fell short.

Raid yesterday was non-stop –from morning to afternoon. I saw fires burning in the direction of Grace Park and Nichols and Murphy and McKinley.

People from San Juan say that a low-flying plane strafed a Jap truck crossing the bridge killing 4 persons. Consensus of opinion is that much damage was done to military installation.

Last night, conversation was on probability of landings. Some believe Americans have landed already somewhere in Luzon.

Heard three big explosions last night –one at 2 o’clock also.

Raid again.

N.B.

Vic and Neneng wounded. A Jap shell landed near the house. Yesterday 3 exploded but no one was injured.

December 16, 1944

Bullets or shrapnel pierced our roof. Entered just opposite daughter Neneng’s chair in the dining room. Vic and I were seated at the table. Neneng, Dolly and the maid Emilia bringing in breakfast. A sudden noise, splashing and scattered timber splinter. Emilia crying.

Wounded slightly: Emilia, Neneng, Vic. Emilia: half a dozen superficial wounds of varying length from one to two inches on left forearm, outer side and on right leg. Neneng: small splintered wound on right eyelid and a larger one on right forearm. Vic: a burnt scar the size of a 20-cent piece. Emilia cried. Neneng thought she was blind and Vic limped, thinking he was severely wounded. Dolly, who herself had an eighth-of-an-inch scratch near her left ear, dressed them all…

Debris: the roof was pierced by two circular openings the size of 50-centavo pieces. One and one-half meter by 10 inch wide of the ceiling fell and numerous splintered wood all over the table, dining room and sala.

The bullet went through the floor.

Unexploded cannon bullet 3 meters back of the garage. It was 2-3/4 inch diameter and 12 inches long, I don’t know whether it’s still live. If it isn’t, I want to keep it as souvenir… The Japanese told a neighbor that the raiders hit an ammunition dump nearby and the explosion sent the bullets flying. Thus we are in the dangerous path of raiders en route to hit targets in San Juan, Quezon City, Wack Wack, Neilson, McKinley and Nichols.

 

December 15, 1944

A lot of things have happened during these last two weeks.

Flying fortress have appeared twice but at night. Japs got excited. To houses that still had lights on, they shouted and threatened “Close light! Close light!”

Yesterday, we had an all-day raid, from morning to afternoon. I saw the Jap planes flying very early. “That means”, said someone, “there is going to be a raid because the Japs always hide when the Americans fly over.” Sure enough, there was another raid, hooray! And not a single Jap plane put up a fight –at least I didn’t see any.

The Americans were flying very low –sometimes above rooftops. One fighter flew just above the house and I saw the U.S. insignia. The people in the field started to cheer and cheer.

Now everybody thinks “there is probably a landing in Luzon already” and some think “they’ll be in Manila before Christmas.”

Must stop writing. There is another raid.

December 10, 1944 — Sunday

77th Division is probing south. The 7th Division moving northward has captured Albuera. Enemy pinched between has great losses. In the North the 32nd Division captured a field battery & large dumps of ammunition and supplies.

December 9, 1944 — Saturday

The 77th Division is now at the outskirts of Ormoc. The 7th Division attacking northward from Palanas seized Balogo and high ground north of Tagbas River. Attended cocktails at quarters of General R.J. Marshall Chief of staff USAFFE. Went home at 10PM.

December 7, 1944 — Thursday

I found out that at 6 p.m. last night two Japanese transport planes using U.S. Army Air Corps radar IFF managed to come in for a landing. This was discovered before the first plane hit the ground. They found seven Japanese dead inside the plane. The second plane did not land and dropped a small bomb. It is feared that nine paratroopers may have landed somewhere in Tacloban. At the same time 6 p.m. the Japanese dropped 200 parachute troops in the vicinity of San Pablo. They captured the small landing strip in Buri and destroyed five piper cubs and blew up an ammunition dump. The Air Corps troops killed more than one half of the parachutists. The effort was a desperate attempt of the Japanese at diversion, and sabotage. The effort was a feeble one and promptly rendered abortive

The 77th Division of the XXIV Corps landed this morning in Ormoc bay in the enemy’s rear. In an amphibious operation with air and naval support, the troops went ashore three miles south of Ormoc and are rapidly advancing northward. The landing caught the enemy unaware on the west with his reserves already committed to meet our converging attacks from the north, east and south. The Japanese resistance to the landing was negligible and we had practically no losses. By this maneuver we have seized the center of the Yamashita line from the rear and have split the enemy’s forces in two, isolating those in the valley to the north from those along the coast to the south. Both segments are now caught between our columns which are pressing in from all fronts. Immediately, after our landing an enemy reinforcement convoy of thirteen vessels consisting of four large transports of 7000 to 8500 tons each, two freighter transports of 2500 tons each and seven destroyers and destroyer escorts was discovered approaching from the north with strong air cover. Our airforces immediately attacked and our own convoy was attacked by the enemy’s planes. A desperate melee resulted, in which all thirteen vessels in the enemy’s convoy were sunk without unloading. The transports were heavily packed with troops and 4000 were estimated as lost. We had one destroyer and one small transport hard hit by aerial torpedoes and after transferring the crews, abandoned the ships and sank them. Fifty-two enemy planes were shot down by army fighters and tem by Navy fighters — total 62. Major Richard Bong got two more making his total 38; Major John McGuire got three making his total 30; Major Johnston two — total 23, Colonel Charles McDonald three total 20. We lost five planes but rescued the pilots. At the end of the day our airforce spotted and sank six small craft loaded with troops along the northwest coast of Leyte.

Busy all day with the hearing of Bernardo Torres, collaborationist.