But I digress. Back to the Bay View Hotel---

At times when there were no troops around. I would wander around empty rooms. I came upon a large bound book, opened it up and it contained the Sunday colored comic strips of Tarzan. There must have been a year's worth. Spent hours reading it and looking at the pictures. Funny how in those circumstances one can find escapism in such a trivial thing. I wondered if the Japanese had a Tarzan fan club.

At times I would look out the window. This was probably about six stories up. The view was of Manila Bay (we were in the Bay View Hotel - get it?) The first time I looked out I saw a Filipino with his hands up on the beach approaching Japanese soldiers. When he got into range they shot him. He dropped instantly. I recognized the man as a guerrilla. Before all hell broke loose, during the quiet part of the occupation, he used to have me and my friends bury Molotov cocktails by designated coconut trees. . Had we been caught with these we would have been shot on the spot, well maybe after a little torture to tell the Kempei, where we had obtained them. Another fun thing we did was to walk by the ammunition dump with a perambulator, steal gunnery shells and hide them. We had no basement so I kept them in an areaway beneath our house. Being boys we thought we were great spies. Maybe the Japs didn't want to stop boys in drag. At any rate we were never stopped. What a dumb thing to do.

No food either. I scrounged around. Found a couple of crates of hard biscuits (I think that this is what is referred to as hardtack). That was our bread and water for about a week.

Ere long the Japanese started taking the young girls out of the rooms to rape them. The older women would cross themselves and lament "She is such an innocent girl. she has never missed a day of mass." The girls were usually shoved back into the same room by these gentlemanly escorts. The process was unrelenting. I did not witness these atrocities of course. In time some of the people, who had been scrounging for food said they saw a soldier raping the corpse of a dead girl. By then having accepted these Japs as animals, this bestiality did not surprise me.

Earlier looking for the hardtack, I opened a door and saw several lances leaning in a corner. I recall thinking, the Americans have such superior weapons, these people have confiscated my bicycle, people's pushcarts, now they are going to fight tanks with spears. I never told anyone until now about those lances.

My sister, Nan hid laying down behind my mother, my seven year old brother, Mike and myself. With my mother acting crazy the Japanese did not near us and did not see her. This comes to mind because after what seemed like days hiding her I remembered the lances. By now I was no longer frightened. Once I accepted as fact that I would die all that mattered was that I die quickly. Given the choices of being burned alive, shot with a rifle or bayoneted, I wanted a mortar shell explosion in the back -- not a dud. This would be final. No shell, no Joe in an instant. I will never know if I would have gotten the lance and tried to kill a ravaging Jap at that time. Today I would not, not because my act would ensure my death, but also that of everyone else in that room. I even recollect figuring if I should hide him in a closet or throw him out of a window. (Wouldn't have been feasible anyway, they entered the rooms in pairs.)

After about a week, the building was burned. I am certain that this was set off by the Japanese, since mortar and howitzer fire could not put a dent in the walls of this building, built to withstand earthquakes. Smoke coming up the halls. The building was designed so if you took a cross section there could be a square within a square. The center square was empty. If round it would be the hole in a doughnut. Smoke was coming up this hole.

The Japanese would not let us leave. I remember the next sequence vividly. My mother, who was in her 30s at the time had some knowledge of Japanese psychology. Perhaps acquired during the frequent interrogations by the Kempei at Fort Santiago. She spotted the Japanese office in charge. Said to him "Number one man say no can go." Whatever his reason, I presume it was to "save face", this officer said "I number one man, go!". And without any further ado we started streaming out of the building into the shelling outside. The entire Ermita section was now rubble. Although we said that the incoming shells were "trench mortars," using WW I terminology an American veteran recently told me that if we heard the whistle of incoming fire these had to be howitzers, that mortars were silent.