Love and War
of thousands of young men and women perished in what will a few years later be
known to the world as the greatest armed conflict in the history of mankind—the
Second World War. Starting as a battle between democracy and totalitarianism,
World War II went beyond the West and traveled to center its conflict in the
Pacific, the ocean of peace. For years the skies of Asia would be lighted by
fire, the air constantly pierced with sirens and the rich and fertile land was
colored by blood.
the story of the young man who joined the war to save lives, only to learn too
late that in exchange, his was forfeit.
really don't want to tell me about them?"
tightened his embrace on Piper. "I told you, they don't matter. Besides,
they're much too complicated and bothersome."
you'd tell me someday."
my reasons, Piper."
the only reasons a man doesn't talk about the past to his woman if he committed
a crime and if there was another woman," Phoebe warned while standing on the
Phoebe, those aren't the only reasons."
true, Leo? Was there another woman? I already know about Lillian."
Piper, there definitely was no other woman."
1941 (Countdown: 10 days before World War 2)
woman adjusted her coat as she hurried out of the church. Her feet moved
rapidly and her eyes were glued to the muddy ground, vainly trying to skirt
away from the puddles that the early evening drizzle had formed.
She stumbled backward after colliding with the hard wall. Her eyes rose and met
apologetic hazel ones. So it was no brick wall. It was one of those young
officers that General McArthur had brought with him from America several months
siento, senorita," he murmured.
right. There was no harm done."
eyes smiled at her. No, the lips did. But she wasn't sure. It was the eyes she
was looking at. "English." She began walking away. "You speak English."
late, and she didn't speak with strangers. For some reason though, she halted
and looked back at him. "Everyone does. It's the medium America introduced. Why
would you think I didn't?"
you speaking to the padre in Spanish."
informal language," she explained. "We speak it at home, and to our
whispered one of his companions.
soldier who bumped into her moved closer. "It's dangerous to walk in the
streets alone, especially at night. I'll see you home."
been walking the streets of Manila alone since I was a child. There is no safer
place on earth."
soldier shook his head. "No longer. Can't you feel the tension in the air? It's
time you began taking precautions."
girl smiled. "But I see no Japanese soldiers lurking. I am safe enough tonight.
Please don't bother."
"I insist. I
would be derelict in my duties if I didn't." His companions had moved on. She
was left with no one but this American soldier who had outstretched his hand.
"As a civilian, you are my responsibility."
I am no man's responsibility."
My name is Leo Wyatt. And though I am glad you consider yourself your own
woman, you are still under your father's guidance, if not your husband's."
she stressed. She had no intention of calling him by name. "If you insist on
seeing me home, you had better start moving. I am only a couple of blocks away
and you have taken a large amount of my time with your senseless babble. Now
you may follow me home."
tempted to chuckle, because the words were ill-suited to her. Her entire
appearance was that of a timid young woman who would not have had the will to
blow out a candle out of pity to the flame. They walked down the street and a
few houses later, she stopped before a huge Colonial. "You may leave now."
stay until I see that you've stepped in." He stood by the shadows as she
silently tried to sneak into the house.
eres tu, Ana Maria?"
He saw her
cringe. "Si, mama!"
"Fui a la
irá con usted."
"O no no,
mama. Ah pero había alguien con mí. He can protect me too! Ahhh…Leo! Leo!"
Leo grinned. So
she didn't want her brother going with her to the chapel. She needed him now.
She was right where he wanted. He straightened his uniform and stepped away
from the darkness to walk forward. "Buenas noches, senora. Complací deberé
reunir una dama fina. Me llamo Leo Wyatt."
sir," her mother smiled. "And I am pleased to meet a fine man such as yourself.
Thank you for seeing Ana Maria home. She worries me when she goes off at night,
but she insists."
preocupare. I will take care of her. Yo no la permitiré fuera de mi
I hope it will not be a bother to you. Come in, come in to the sala. Usted
es siempre bienvenida a viene aquí."
"No! Mama!" Ana
whispered, as the three walked to the living room.
senora. My Espanol is shady at best. I did not quite catch that last one." Of
course he did, Ana thought, as they all sat down on the couch. He just wanted
to rub it in.
apologize, hijo. I said you are welcome to come here anytime."
senora. I'm sure I'll be coming here a lot from now on, especially since I'll
be escorting Ana Maria to church every night."
"Well then I'll
be sure to keep a place set on the mesa for you." A petite girl brought in a
tray of warm milk. "Gracias, Prudencia. You may tell the others that
they may sleep already. Ana and I will lock up. So, hijo, you are part of el
General McArthur's troops?"
The one that arrived last July."
"Oh you brave
"We are also
fighting for our country in this war, senora. And I did not participate in this
war to take lives. I am a medic, here to prevent as much death as I can."
"Well that is
an honorable endeavor, Senor Wyatt. And I am very glad Ana found you. At last,
an acceptable young man. She's always been a magnet to irresponsible rakes. And
she seems to look at herself as quite the modern young woman."
complained, "I'm still here."
mother said, standing up, "I am going up. I'll leave you two here to say your
goodnights. Hija, if your father suddenly telephones from the convention, you
may wake me." To Leo, she explains, "I'm sure she did not tell you, Senor
Wyatt, but my husband, Claro Hidalgo, works with the USAFFE."
outstanding, senora. I'm sure I'll make his acquaintance someday soon."
Hidalgo nodded to him and left the room.
"Thank you very
much for covering for me. You really don't have to take me to church every
night or even show up again. I'll just tell them you're busy."
"Ana, I am
assigned in Intramuros for the moment. Your father will know everything about
me. And I'm just thinking that he will exert the effort to find out when your
mother tells him about me being your church escort." He chuckled.
"Why are you
believe I just said that. That is the most respectable thing I've ever said in
my entire life." He stands up.
do have curfew."
I'm not calling you soldier anymore!"
"I'll be here
at six, Senor Wyatt. Please be on time," she reminded him sharply.
"Yes, maam." He
gave her a mock salute. "Promptly." He noted the number of the locks on the
door before he left.
She closed the
door and Leo waited at the other side and listened.
Click. Click. He nodded to himself. Four locks in place. He walked away.
Piper. There wasn't anyone."
that." She kissed his cheek. "I'm glad you're not getting called today."
pulled her to him. Her head lay on his chest and he kissed the top of her head.
At least no one you should be thinking of, he thought to himself.
1941 (Countdown: 2 days before the eruption of World War 2)
cannot understand why you insist on attending weekday mass at night, Ana," he
said, as they walked from the church. His hand was on the small of her back.
Over the last week, they have grown closer from their everyday encounters.
told you then, I tell you now. If you're bothered, then let me be. The night is
beautiful. There is no better time to receive the Word."
not possible, Ana. You can't get rid of me."
remained silent. The scent wafted down the street. "Christmas is in the air. I
can't wait. Leo! Look!" She pointed to a sorry looking stall at the sidewalk
and pulled him towards it.
that?" he asked, looking at the sticky-looking violet clumps.
puto bumbong, a delicacy we only have during Christmas. Manang (old lady)," she
addressed the vendor. "Isn't it a little early? We usually don't see puto
bumbong until the start of misa de gallo (masses held at dawn from December 16
to 25). Give us two, manang. We'll eat them here." She pulled him down to sit
at the bench. The vendor handed them the clumps with a brownish looking powder
on the square of the banana leaf.
stared at the violet food. How was he supposed to eat it, he wondered. He
looked at Ana, who looked as though she was thoroughly enjoying it. She rolled
the puto bumbong in the powder and held it to her mouth using the banana leaf.
She smiled at him and waited. He ate as she did and found that it was
inexplicably delicious, melting in the mouth and leaving a pleasant after
taste. Within seconds he consumed the delicacy.
she asked, amused. He nodded. By the time they left, his pocket was lighter by
a few pesos and his stomach heavier by a couple of pounds. "Leo."
at her and was filled once more with the overwhelming warmth he did when he
first slammed into her in this very street. He couldn't understand it. He
looked into those bottomless black eyes fringed with black, black lashes and he
knew he had never loved like that before. And he probably never will again.
still smiling as she reached into her pocket for her fragrant white
handkerchief. "Sugar on your lips," she whispered, raising the white cloth to
wipe it away. He caught her hand and merely flicked his tongue to remove
Then he let
her wipe the side of his mouth. She stared at him, breathless in the middle of
suddenly seemed to snap out of it. "Please come early tomorrow, Leo. We'll
attend the morning mass."
Feast of the Immaculate Conception. Mama would come with us too."
1941 9 AM (Countdown: 17 ½ hours before the eruption of World War 2)
you must take lunch with us. You've been so kind the past days, keeping Ana
company." Senora Hidalgo waves at a group of women standing by the door of the
church. "Hola, amigas!" She turns to Leo. "Well I have to go and speak with
some friends. I'll see the two of you in the house as twelve."
would you like to do before then?"
Show me where you work."
where I work. We roam around the city, rescuing young women from the evils of
darkness," he joked.
what I mean, Leo. Take me to the garrison."
his head. "Fort Santiago is no place for you."
been to the garrison countless times before, Leo. I just want to go there with
down at her face. "I'll hire a calesa (horse carriage. Note: Until today, horse
carriages ferry people about the old city of Intramuros, Manila)."
sure? It's rather far."
not. Anyway, we need to talk." They walk in silence for a while. A few minutes
later, she begins pointing to several monuments and edifices. "That is the
Palacio el Governador General. And see that? That's where—" She went on and on,
babbling pointlessly. He nodded, as though interested. He was only waiting for
her to get to her real point. He'd understood her so completely in the time
he'd known her.
dot she turned to him. "See here, Leo Wyatt, I didn't ask you to walk with me
to give you a tour of my city."
didn't?" he asked innocently.
was—I was curious. I wanted—will you show me a picture of your wife?" He did
not expect such a turn. Silently he pulled out his wallet and drew out the
snapshot of Lillian. She took it. "She's beautiful. What a beautiful hair."
lovely," he said. "I prefer dark hair."
about her again," she quietly requested. They were already on the bridge
leading to Fort Santiago. They stopped there and he lifted her up to seat her
up on the thick cement railing.
the drill. They'd been repeating this for the last few days. "She was a
childhood sweetheart. I joined the war and we did not know what else to do. We're
young and foolish. We got married. We thought it was the only way to keep out
love strong." He shook his head.
love her very very much?"
the first time she asked that. She always left off after asking him to tell her
how they got married. He decided it was time he made it clear. It was time to
give her what she deserved. "Yes, Ana, I love Lillian." She looked away.
Gently, he hooked a finger under her chin and forced her to look back at him.
"But the love I feel for her can never compare to what I feel for you. My soul
reaches out to you. Even I can't understand it."
off to stand before him and pulls him down for a kiss, right there at the top
of the bridge, with the look-outs at the wall of Fort Santiago looking down at
them. "I love you so much. I'll give you anything, Leo," she swears
breathlessly. "I don't care that you married her. As long as I know you love
me, I'll give it all to you."
firmly declines. "I can't do that to you. I know the kind of person you are.
That's why I love you."
no way for us to be together?" She was desperate. It was the first time she
fell in love, and she fell hard. "Why did you find me too late?!"
find a way," he assured her. "After the war I'll divorce Lillian. She'll
understand. She's more like a friend to me.
She will be
happy for us, Ana. In the meantime I want you to keep yourself safe so that
when I return, you'll be waiting for me right there in Santo Agustin. I can
think of no other place to marry you but in the church where I found you."
there, in each other's embrace, and dreamed of the future.
me go for a minute," she said, pulling away from his embrace. "I need to take a
shower. I have work."
watched her climb up the stairs. How will she react about Ana, he wondered. She
accepted Lillian, because she knew Lillian was a part of that other life. That
she was still foremost in his heart when compared to Lillian. But what would
she think of my Ana Maria? What would she think of the young girl I loved with
all my being? How would she see this young girl whom until now I cannot
forget—whom until now I ache to see, and hold, and to love again?
1941 (an hour and a half after the bombing of Pearl Harbor and war was
been assigned to patrol the area surrounding Fort Santiago. The morning paper
boy passes by him in a green bicycle. "Extra! Extra! War on the Pacific
declared! Extra! Extra!"
hailed the boy. The boy caught the coin he tossed and threw him the rolled
newspaper. It was the Herald. Leo stood under the streetlamp and glanced
through the cover story. He rolls the paper again and rushes into the fort. Leo
walks hurriedly to his commander's office and raps on the door.
offices rubbed his eyes. He had been sleeping on his desk, waiting for the call
from Hawaii that never came. "What did it take?"
Japanese have bombed Pearl Harbor. More than a hundred of our men killed."
Give me that." Leo hands him the paper. "Damn it. That's why they weren't able
to reply. The bastards killed our men. So since 2:30 this morning, we've been
part of the war."
nodded. "Roosevelt took the bait. We're in this deep now, sir."
We'll be in full alert from now on. Wake the men."
ask permission to leave the grounds while you relay the news, sir? I already
know, and there is someone I need to speak with."
officer nodded. "As soon as you wake them, you may go to the Hidalgos. Tell the
senora they are to take special care. Senor Hidalgo is still with the
sounds the bell and the troops wearily but eagerly line up to listen to Major
Richards. Leo leaves and runs to inner Intramuros. He knocks on the Hidalgo
home. Nobody answered. He knocked again. A long while later the door opened.
Wyatt, it is too early."
nodded to the maid. "I know, Prudencia. But I must see Ana. Hurry."
at the sala when Ana arrived, still in her nightgown. Prudencia handed her a
robe. "Leo?" She smiled at him. "What are you doing here at this hour?"
with me to the azotea (veranda)." He hands her his coat. She looked foolish in
the thin robe and the coat, but he never noticed. "Ana, the Philippines is now
officially at war with Japan."
stared blankly at him, and then looked down at the street. "But nothing's
doesn't work like that. They would need a day, two at most, to prepare. And I
want you to be careful. As much as possible, don't leave the house. When—when
the air raids begin—"
planes will eventually fly above Manila and the provinces to shower you with
bombs. A wailing siren will be heard. As soon as you hear that, run to the
nearest bomb shelter. We haven't made enough yet. But there is one in the
church grounds. It's only a short distance from here. I want you to run there,
because that's where I'll look for you."
Yes, I understand."
nodded, and kissed the top of her head. "Go back to sleep," he commanded
gently. "I have to return to Fort Santiago."
here when you need me."
careful. I love you."
her softly on the lips. "I love you, Ana."
rapping on Leo's door woke him up. He got up and shrugged on a shirt. He
couldn't sleep clothed in the Philippines. It was too hot for him, even in
December. He wasn't used to it, although he could see that the people already
young lady wishes to speak with you."
Thank you, corporal." The young soldier leaves. "Why are you here?"
falls down her eye. She runs to him and pushes him into the room. She closes
the door. "The Japanese have started air raids in the south. My father is in
worry, Ana. Your father is with the best army soldiers there are. He'll be
safe. But I told you not to leave your house. We never know when the raids will
begin, and there is no fixed shelter from here to San Agustin. I'll have the
corporal escort you home. I would but—"
a job. I understand."
soldier eagerly agrees to take her back to the town proper. About ten minutes
later, Leo's heart stopped at the wailing sirens. They've finally arrived.
Explosions soon rip the air apart. Ana! Leo runs to the gate, but the guards
stop him. "You can't go out while there's an air raid, sergeant."
bombing, the medics rushed out to survey the damage and treat the wounded. Leo
ran blindly in the direction of San Agustin. Leo sees the wounded lying in the
street. His mind told him to perform his duty. His heart urged him to look for
Ana. He reluctantly kneels down beside an injured man and stop the bleeding on
his forehead. His heart was madly thumping. She must be safe.
cleaning and bandaging the wound, Leo looked up. Ana stood beside him, with a
bandaged forearm. Leo draws her to him.
just a scratch," she reassures him.
into the sala to find Leo sitting on the couch. "Leo, I'm happy to see you
again." He had been busy since the first air raid, and they have not seen each
it's about your father."
smiled immediately faded. "What about him? He's in Legazpi surrounded by the
was executed with two of the secretary-generals."
didn't say anything. He stands up and draws her to the couch, where he let her
weep on his shirt while holding her close.
arrives for noche buena (Christmas Eve feast) carrying his army duffel bag. Ana
approaches him immediately. "Come. It's almost Christmas. Welcome it with me.
President Quezon is no longer safe here in Manila. I've been assigned to go
with him to Corregidor."
servants gathered to go to their formation. They've been practicing hard for
tonight. Ana did not say a word. They began their rendition of Silent Night. "Noche
de paz, noche de amor. Todo duerme en derredor. Todo los astros se esparcen su
luz. Brilla anunciado el Nino Jesus. Brilla anunciado su luz…" In the
middle of the song, air raid sirens wailed, but no one moved. Everyone was
scared, but noone wanted to break the solemnity of their celebration. Leo
tightened his hold on Ana as each explosion ripped the night air. The noise
stopped, and Leo was thankful that no bomb fell on the house.
prepared to leave. "No te vayas, Leo."
to, Ana. You know I have to go."
me puedes olvidan," she said, crying.
never forget you. How could you think that?" Leo wiped the tears away. "Por
favor, no llores, paloma (Please don't cry, darling.) Te volvere (I
will be back)."
learns that Manila is being declared an open city. He demands that it not be.
we have no choice. It's either we surrender the city to them now or hold it but
have it destroyed in our hands."
hold Manila and keep the Japanese away, lieutenant."
sergeant, we can't. This is not an escort. This is a retreat. We can no longer
hold our own. So learn to love this place. This is our last stand."
surveyed the rich island. He prayed that this will not be the last sight he
shrugs off his shirt to put on a new one. He wasn't letting Piper go off to the
club alone. He looked for the hairbrush on Piper's dresser, but it wasn't
there. He knocked on Phoebe's door, asking to borrow hers.
in. It's right there on the drawer."
brushes his hair. "This is Piper's, Pheebs." He turns to look at the pictures
scattered on her bed.
them? They're for contemporary history. Cool pics huh? World War 2. Ooops.
one. "Hey, can I have this? It's beautiful."
sure. I'm sorry for that, Leo. I know you have bad memories of the war."
fine, Phoebe," he assured her.
watches him walk out of the room. She checks which picture he took. It wasn't
those of military leaders or of battle scenes. She compared the pictures on the
bed to her list. Maybe he did find it pretty. Leo took a picture of an old
church in Intramuros, Manila called San Agustin.
blared loudly in the Hidalgo home. It was the taped message of Franklin Delano
Roosevelt. "I give to the people of the Philippines my solemn pledge that their
freedom will be redeemed and their independence established and protected."
opened the leather-bound book he had brought with him and wrote down. "It's
raining bombs and grenades out here. I cannot remember anymore how many
soldiers I have treated. Since their first attacks yesterday, I've treated
young men who are begging to be sent home. But I am only thankful now. The more
firepower they unload on us, the more sure I am that they are no longer hitting
Manila. At least Ana is safe."
man bounded up to him. "You have a letter from the last batch of mail we were
able to take from Manila."
open the envelope after seeing that it was from Ana. "30th December 1941," he
read. "My love, The Japanese have yet to come. There has been nothing bad that
happened since you left. I am eagerly awaiting your arrival so that we may be
Has the Japanese entered?"
arrived in Manila last week, sir."
under the tree and scribbled. Today President Quezon fled to the US. I pray
he'll arrive safely and this war will soon be over. I long to hold Ana close to
me. He draws out the tattered photograph. "How can it possible to know
someone for three months but feel this intense connection I feel with you?"
11th March 1942
McArthur has left us to General Wainwright. My president assigned him out of
the USAFFE and to Australia. I am beginning to wonder, do we still matter? The
food is almost gone, and their promise of reinforcements never arrived. We are
17th March 1942
been much rejoicing here at camp. General Wainwright told the men of General
McArthur's message when he arrived in Australia. 'He shall return.' Again, more
empty promises. But they seem to work though. I see a lively spring to the
steps of the people around here. Yes, they're spirits are up, but it still
remains that we've been forgotten in an island in the Pacific, surrounded by
the enemy. If we don't die by their bullets, we'll surely die of starvation.
America, why have you forsaken us?
3rd April 1942
fury of the Japanese attack began. The soldiers scampered to take cover. When
their side was hit, Leo and the other medics would rush in, braving the gunfire
to pull the fallen soldier to safety, treating his wounds as best they could.
was falling all around them, Leo knew. He squinted at the sky and saw one of
the Japanese planes zooming in. All he could think of was that he'd never
danced with Ana before. "I want to dance with Ana," he whispered.
watches Piper while she's talking to the band. She wanted to know, but Leo was
aware that as long as he cannot reassure her that his feelings for Ana were
past, and that he didn't think of her anymore, his confession would only hurt
her. And he wasn't ready to say he didn't love Ana, even if it were only to
9th April 1942
(The Fall of Bataan. The Fall of the Philippines)
fighting raged on. Leo breathed in the air that smelled of gunpowder and blood.
His own hair was matted with sweat and dirt. His shirt was dusty and bloody
from a hundred men's blood.
duck!" he yelled at a brown-haired young man. It was too late though. Japanese
bullet ripped across his forehead. "Dammit!" Leo saw the Jap scamper away, and
he ran to the young soldier.
Private, can you hear me? Stay awake." He tore through his bag for some clean
gauze and antiseptic." The private didn't stir. Leo worked maniacally cleaning
good as dead, sergeant! Leave him. The Japs have pointed the bomber at us!"
refused to move. There was some mother waiting home for this kid. There was
some remembered sweetheart weeping silently every night. His eyes blocked out
everything but the wound. He snapped out of his blind treatment when he felt
that sharp, searing pain at the back of his head. And then he heard a deafening
is playing and the people were screaming and dancing on the floor. Piper
laughed at one of her customer's comments. She saw Leo sitting at the bar,
looking grim. She sighed.
this about our talk? If you don't want to tell me, you don't have to. As long
as I love you and you love me in this life." He didn't respond. "Come on, Leo.
Dance with me."
was slow now, and they wrapped their arms around each other and swayed
together. Leo closed his eyes. He now had this love, who he has had over and
over in other lives. Why then did that one stray heart still remain, haunting
did you go, Ana? He wanted to apologize to her, perhaps show himself to her in
her dreams, say sorry for not fulfilling his promise.
you no longer there when I came to see you? Why was the house so dark and
empty? Who are you, and where can I find you now?
10th April 1942
in front of the church, debating on what to do. Slowly, she forced her legs to
move forward. Her hand dipped into the shell that held the holy water, and she
made the sign of the cross in front of the altar. She made her way down the
aisle. Her heart was bleeding, but she showed no outward sign of emotion.
turned as she made her way to the front pew, where she knelt and closed her
eyes. Minutes later, she sat on the wooden chair. She heard them whispering
about her, how strong she was. Father lost to the Japanese. Mother lost to the
Japanese. She took them all without weeping.
priest stood in front of the people. "Today we celebrate mass to honor those
who died in the Battle of Bataan yesterday." The priest went on to say the
names. One by one, from all corners of the church, a family would burst out
crying as a son or a husband's name is called.
Ana was silent.
The priest's list was long, and one thought repeated itself over and over in
her mind. "The bastards…the damn bastards…killed them all…"
Joseph Walsh, Leo Wyatt…"
snapped up and she abruptly flung her arms wide. The entire church froze. With
trembling steps she walked to the priest and looked at the list. There. They
all lauded her for her stoic acceptance of her many tragedies. In front of the
frozen audience, she crumpled to the church floor, rocking herself back and forth,
"Why?" She raised herself on weak arms and stood up, walking back down the
aisle of San Agustin church, where he promised to marry her after the war.
are you, Ana?" he wondered, dancing with Piper.