After we passed through the burning forest, we found out that it was night time through the thick smoke. We were so exhausted that we fell asleep under a big mango tree along the road.
We woke up with the morning sun heavily shining upon us. Our faces and clothes were full of dust caused by passing Jap Army vehicles.
Being dark when we laid down, the three wooden crosses to mark the graves we slept on were not noticed by us, close to the tree trunk.
We realized that we slept on freshly dug graves. No wonder the soil was soft when we laid down to sleep, on a grave!
Further down the road, at the first rice fields, with newly harvested or burned rice stumps, we were herded off the road by Jap soldiers with fixed bayonets into the roped area prepared for us to be gathered together for the real DEATH MARCH.
We reached this place with a group of surrenderers not knowing that we were falsely told “MANIRA GO” as a trick to make us voluntarily fall into this prepared trap after we passed through the forest trail.
Having not had a drink for a long time, as our canteens were emptied down the burning forest, we searched for any place to wet our burning tongues. We saw soldiers swarming around a muddy buffalo wallow with greenish muddy water that had a very foul smell.
I suspected there were dead soldiers underneath the mud, because that was a battle-worn area where the Philippine soldiers made their last organized stand against the advancing enemy.
The soldiers ahead of us were removing their undershirts to dip into the mud, then squeeze out the water into their open mouths and dry throats. They did not mind the danger of contamination.