Stories about War
So inseparable were they, that a pregnant Dina endured the hardship of Tonio’s guerrilla life. Food was scarce, of course, and most days all they had to eat was bitter gourd. The plucky Dina was no liability; Tonio was lucky to have her with him. One time, they were set upon by what was likely a reconnaissance unit of Japanese soldiers. In desperation, Dina pushed Tonio into a man-sized hole (another life-saving ditch, yes), and promptly “sat” on his head, while extending her full skirts to hide his body.
Not for the first time, she sadly felt relieved that her beloved Lola Consor and her beautiful, willful mother Charing died before all this happened. They never would have survived the torturous journeys to safety, the lack of good bread (or any bread for that matter), and the horrendous murder scenes that had unfolded before her overprotected eyes. Especially during these past few months. The Japanese were always ruthless. But now with imminent defeat, they were savages.
He couldn’t remember the last time he had chocolate! My father stared at the shiny bar as the soldier opened the package for him, revealing the rich brown color. It really was chocolate! He took the bar and greedily took a bite. Yuck. It's disgusting was the first thought to enter my my father's head.
The sailboat relied solely on wind and there were entire days with no movement. It was not a comfortable journey. Aside from the constant fear of being discovered, the boat had no benches and the lower deck had no windows. There was also no bathroom. To do their business, everyone had to overcome their shyness. In my lola's words "We had to go to the back of the batel and with somebody holding your hand so that you would not fall into the sea, you just squatted (over the side of the boat) and did our thing."
As World War II came crashing on the Philippines, December 1941 found the young Bobises scrambling for safety away from Manila to escape the invading forces, and to meet up with Vicente’s sister’s family in Lucena, Tayabas. Little did they know they were headed right near where the invading forces landed.
She found herself suddenly and jerkily whisked away towards the back of their house where the deep well was located. Warnings of an invasion reached her father days before, and he had prepared their hiding place. The Japanese had already shelled Manila and massacred people in their own houses. Nobody would care to look inside the well, he thought.
The shop below was run by a Chinese man who went out each day to sell tahô, a syrupy yogurt, from two tin buckets dangling from either side of a wooden yoke on his shoulders. Mom loved hanging around the shop and the Chinese man became her friend. He allowed her to play at measuring out goods. He pretended to buy food from her. And later, he built Mom her own little yoke and she marched up and down the street pretending that she too was selling tahô.Mom has idyllic memories of those years in the Chinese quarter, it was a feral time, running and playing on the streets with other small children. If the war had never happened, it was an experience she would never have had, growing up amongst the buttoned up, conservative middle classes in Manila.
As with other houses in the neighborhood, my family’s on Valley Road was taken over by the Japanese military. It was designated to be the headquarters of some Japanese officers. My grandparents, Mary and Pacifico Sr., had no choice but to surrender the house, so they sent their children to live with Eusebio and Frances, who by then were residing at the top of Poinsettia Street, on España extension.