Dear Mother Putnam – a Civilian “Blog Posts” on World War II in Manila

Marcial Lichauco, a 39-year-old “civilian”, recorded the atmosphere and happenings in his surroundings in Manila during World War II. His “posts” covered the period of the start of the war in December 1941 to the liberation of Manila (with his last posts being in February 1945). He wrote it as a series of letters (in a blog-like diary format) to his “Mother” Putnam, who took care of him while he was studying in the US. (Lichauco was the first Filipino graduate from Harvard.)


For me, reading this book was quite an experience.

While reading Dear Mother Putnam…

I could feel every slap that the Filipinos received from the power-tripping Japanese.

I could feel the fear of the Filipinos of being taken into Fort Santiago for the dreaded questioning and torture — not knowing if one would come out of it alive.


I could feel the dilemma of the Filipinos who were forced to cooperate with the Japanese authorities while always watching their backs for guerillas planning to assassinate them.

I could almost feel what it was like to live during the three years of hell the Filipinos experienced under the Japanese regime until the the barbaric scorching of the city, when the Japanese retreated from Manila in 1945.

But beyond those horrors, I could also feel the honor and pride of every Filipino soldier who fought side-by-side with the Americans in Bataan and Corregidor to defend our country.

This made me realize how blessed I am for living in a peaceful world and never experiencing the hardships of World War II.

It’s hard to put this book down once you start reading it, especially since it’s like reading a fiction novel but with the grim realization that the events that happened in it were real.

Thanks to Sunshine De Leon for sharing this piece of Philippine History from her grandfather Marcial Lichauco. I felt that it was a bit bitin thoughIt fueled my love for learning more about our history. Maybe you can convince your grandmother Jessie to start a blog to share with us the stories of post-World War II in Manila. (I can create the blog for her and she just needs to write. 🙂 )

Live an Awesome Life,  


Text and Photos by Anton Diaz. Copyright 2009. 
mobile: +63917-LOVEOAP (5683627) 

P.S. Sunshine is helping her grandma sell the book for P500. You can contact her directly. I can ship a copy to you for an additional P100 (for logistics and shipping fee). Email Rache at

9 thoughts on “Dear Mother Putnam – a Civilian “Blog Posts” on World War II in Manila

  1. I am keenly interested in reading this book (and similar works). Unfortunately it doesn’t seem to be available through my local booksellers. Do you have recommendations where I might find a copy? I already tried amazon. No luck. Thanks.

  2. Thanks for telling us about this book-I read a few days ago “Adventures of a Child of War” by
    Lin Acacio-Flores. It is a novel told from the point of view of a high school boy living a middle class life in Manila when the Japanese invade. It is written for readers 14 and up but can easily be enjoyed by any one. It is very well written and you can learn a lot from it. I bought it for 199 pesos at National Book Store in Trinoma. In fact I recently reviewed it for my blog I would love it if anyone who has family insight into the period could read my post and comment on it.

  3. Anton, it’s absolutely wonderful that you included this book in your blog. Sunshine gave me a copy of the book and now I have to read it!!!

  4. a first-hand account of World War 2 can also be found in a chapter in the non-fiction book “the manila we knew”. very painful to read but very important to learn how war has changed manila. it has emboldened me to ask my lola about how war was in their province. she said they hid from the japanese soldiers under a cliff and her dad was beaten up by the japs.
    i hope your readers can also ask their grandparents/great grandparents to talk about their war experiences in their provinces so we can see a bigger picture of the countrythen, not just manila.

  5. My grandmother Edwina and her siblings were mentioned in this book. They were the children of Marciel’s very best friend Richard Fitzsimmons, who died in the Santo Tomas war camp. Marciel cared for the children and the subsequently came to the US and lived under his sister Dottie’s care. How can I get a copy of this book, it is our family’s last piece of our Filipino roots.

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