Later on there was news that we were all free to go to Manila. Many brought along souvenir items, like myself and Cpl. Castañeres, who brought along our rifle, side arms, helmet and liner, gas mask, canteen, canteen cup, bayonet, and some ammunition. We all thought we were FREE!
Along the way to Mariveles we met Japanese soldiers telling us, “MANIRA GO!” They did not molest us. They were headed towards Corregidor.
When the point nearest to Corregidor from Bataan was in sight, we saw Americans stripping and trying to swim the two-mile distance for safety in the stone fortress. Many were eaten by sharks or drowned. The water was red with blood. (When I went to Corregidor, I saw decorative lime stones with red streaks used on the pavement of a monument there. I brought one back home.)
We saw artillery directed towards Corregidor being fired by Japs, who did not mind our passing by or watching them. The Corregidor big guns couldn’t return the fire for fear of hitting us, the surrenderers. Then came waves and waves of Japanese planes dropping their bombs on the island fortress.
As we traveled along the mountain trail to Mariveles, our load felt heavier and heavier, until we discarded one by one our intended souvenirs. What remained with us were the gas mask case, which I used to hold some clothing and dried meat. I also had a can of biscuits, partly consumed.
Along the way was an abandoned hospital which had been bombed. There I picked up a small bottle of iodine only. Others looting the place carried away medical supplies, blankets, and hospital items.
When we passed by an abandoned American warehouse, I filled three new socks with sugar, powdered milk, and oatmeal. I stuffed hard bread inside the biscuit can and packed inside one end of a mosquito net, about a yard long, some underwear, a silk raincoat, and a tube of shaving cream. I saw some soldiers load bags of clothing, blankets, mosquito nets, and several goods that they could hardly carry, which they carried up and down the trail until some Japanese looters confiscated them all. My small load was not confiscated but my pen, money in my pocket, and wrist watch were looted.
The soldier who got my watch and compass shoved inside my shirt pocket a half-empty box of Japanese AKEBONO (Jap) cigarettes. I was very happy.
In Bataan we used papaya leaves for cigarettes. Anyone who had genuine cigarettes made money by selling one single puff for one peso. My other companions thought I was very lucky to have genuine cigarettes!
Further along the trail to our surrender area, other Jap looters swooped down on us and got whatever items remained in our pockets and hands.
One of these looters trying to search my pockets saw the Akebono cigarettes and immediately he started shouting at me and slapping me, and suddenly with a Judo flip smashed me to the ground, then started kicking me with his mailed boots until I cried: LORD SAVE ME, and an officer riding a horse came along and all looters scampered away, leaving me bleeding, lame, and suffering pains all over my body, my face, arms, and legs.
I guess he thought I got that Jap cigarette box from a Jap I killed and he wanted to kill me! Praise the Lord!
My “MANILA GONE” thinking came.