January 24, 1945

“No man is great in the eyes of his valet.” They said that Napoleon used to say this. But the driver of General MacArthur thinks otherwise. This driver was assigned to me when I had a hard time looking for a vehicle to bring three Fathers to Lingayen. He told me that everyday, except today, he drove the General to the front line, but never did they take the same route twice. I asked him how he was able to memorize the complicated network of streets in so short a time, but he replied that it was not he, but the General, who knew the roads as well as the driver knew his hometown roads. The General was using a jeep which was no different from the thousands of others which the Army brought along. He narrated to me that once they had to cross a river across a pair of unstable wood plunks. He asked the General to get off while he drove the jeep across lest the General fell off and drown. But the General said, “If I fall, you also fall.” And he refused to get off.

The preceding night was the first time one in which the thunderous boom of 12-inch guns was heard at a distance. But a stray shell shook the house and the nerves of its occupants. Inch by inch the Americans hunted the Japanese, flushing them out of their mountain nests, some of which were settled, about 20 kilometers from Manaoag, along the length of San Manuel through Sison, Camp One, Rosario, Damortis. The sad part of it is that the Japanese are using guns which they had pulled out of Bataan and Corregidor, killing Yankees with Yankee guns.

In Manaoag, the shellings, bombings and mortar fire make us feel and live the war anew. Here in Lingayen the air force prevents us from forgetting the war. Like bees around the hive, at every hour of the day, these giant bees keep buzzing around the air field. To make matters worse, the howling of engines reached our place as the planes took off or landed. They flew so low we felt we could reach them with our hands.

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