In January of 1945, American forces airdropped fliers warning the citizens of an impending carpet bombing intended to flush out Japanese forces garrisoned in my great grandparents’ hometown of San Jose Del Monte, Bulacan. The Japanese heeded the warnings; for one reason or another, the locals, seeing the Japanese had gone, did not.
A bomb fell right on their house: My great grandmother, Paulina, and my grandfather’s first wife, Liwayway, were killed. My uncle Efren was a nine-month old baby at her breast.
Had my grandfather not been out playing mahjong that day and gotten away with sharpnel in his leg, I quite simply wouldn’t be around today. My grandfather, limp and all, eventually remarried, and his next son was my dad.
My uncle Efren, saved by his mother, went on to live a long and happy life, with four children and six grandkids, until he passed away a few months ago. Back then, I was aghast at how suddenly he had been taken away from us, but now, I realize how lucky we all were to have spent all those years with him.
Hard to wrap my head around this story, having lived in peaceful times my whole life. History means a whole lot more when you realize how literally close to home it hits.