My grandma was in the Philippines during WWII when her parents and most of her family were executed in their home by Japanese soldiers. She escaped to a nearby cornfield with four other siblings.

She is now 81 and a proud grandmother of 14 grandchildren. She is also a successful entrepreneur of several businesses. She'll be back to answer your questions after her nap.

UPDATE: Thanks for the interest. I have asked my grandmother some of the questions and will be posting her answers shortly. She kind of just went through the whole story, jumping from one point to another, so I will compile her story into a more structured story and try to answer the questions from there. We are having a family party soon so I did not ask her questions that I felt would make her cry or upset; however I will ask these at a more appropriate time ASAPly.

06:30 EST UPDATE 2: Sorry for the slow responses. I did not time this appropriately with our family function tonight. I'll try to ask her more later (we are in Southeast Asia right now). - picture of my grandma and some of her family ~6 years prior to this event. She is the one on the bottom left.

UPDATE 3: Thanks for all the support and kind words. It's sleepy time now.

18:00 EST UPDATE 4: I can answer some of the questions that I know because grandmaama needs an emotional break.

Comments: 1111 • Responses: 25  • Date: 

MemeTLDR176 karma

How was your nap?

grandmaama143 karma

I didn’t sleep. I just laid down. I have been sick and coughing. (She looked like she was napping to me!)

enterentment167 karma

Where did you go after the cornfield?

grandmaama270 karma

I found my younger sister and brought her to an air raid shelter (my family had agreed to meet here in case of an emergency) , ~100m away from the house on a slope of a hill. We found my younger brother there already. He untied his own ropes and had been slashed in the face and thigh by a soldier’s bayonet. He was bleeding a lot. He heard our voices from outside and crawled out of the air raid shelter (apparently the entrance is very tight).

I told my brother we had to get out of here. They (Japanese soldiers) will find us here. There is a clear path that everyone can see to the shelter. The shelter was a dead end and had only one exit.

TL;DR – I first ended up in an air raid shelter.

grandmaama241 karma


We gathered rice sacks, some rice in a can and water from the shelter. My brother said that when the eldest brother ran away he would be going to a family friend’s house. So I said we should go there too. It was quite far. So I thought we should maybe stay here for a bit. While preparing to sleep, we heard gunshots and were frightened. I told my brother we should leave. I prayed that God would protect us and that my father would be okay (She gave the impression that she already knew he was dead).

The following day we went away from the city and we stayed in the hut of my dad’s friend’s house. They were killed earlier. The caretaker of the land let us stay there. We heard that a Japanese sniper was still trying to kill more people so we were very afraid. American soldiers found us and told us to go back to the city where it was safer. We went back to the city with a Filipino family we met along the way. They shared their food and resources with us. While walking back to the city we passed many empty Japanese camps. I remember stepping on a dead person’s skull thinking it was a coconut. There were lots of dead bodies on the side of the road and in the brooks/creeks. We stayed 1-2 weeks in a Japanese camp that was now occupied by American soldiers. The Japanese soldiers were pushed back far into the countryside at this time. We ate the food from the Filipino family (coconut porridge). American soldiers came and felt sorry for us so they gave lots of food from the mess hall (corn beef, meatloaf).

We (younger sister and younger brother) ended up meeting up with the rest of the surviving family (older brother and older sister). We lived in my father’s friend’s house. My older brother (22 years old) went back to our home to get some galvanized iron and wood and built a small shelter. It was built near an American encampment. It was not very secure.

My younger brother brought a tin can everyday to go the camp to get the leftovers from the American soldier’s mess hall. We ate sausage, meatloaf, cornbeef hash, pork and beans. I became sick of it.

grandmaama190 karma

This apparently starts at the same time as when they were in the air raid shelter; after my grandmother and her older sister were separated.

Japanese soldiers spooked my older sister while in the cornfield and she ended up near a creek. She heard some moaning sounds of a guy who used to sell bread. His stomach was slashed. They travelled together for a bit. The daughter from a family we were friends with (whose family was mostly killed as well) went out to look for sweet potatoes to eat and ended up finding my older sister. 4-6 months prior to all this, there was a pilot who fell near the family friend’s house. The family got the first aid kit from him and used it to take care of the other family members that were injured.

The flies on the wound of the bread guy were so numerous that the family friend thought he was already dead and she made some commotion. My older sister heard her and recognized her voice and decided to leave the dying guy and they both travelled deep into a forested area.

The family friends had no matches and needed to maintain embers for fire. Eventually the embers ran out, so the brother of the family friend had to go look for fire to cook food for the younger siblings; while looking for fire they met some other siblings going in the opposite direction and they said that the Americans were already here and asked them why they were hiding.

My older sister was engaged before the war (17 years old). Her fiancé was in Manila. So they were separated. The plan was to get married after he graduated, but the war broke out. So there was no chance to get married. My father wanted to wait until we knew whether or not the fiancé was dead or not before looking for other people to marry. There were lots of other suitors already. The fiancé had actually already married someone else and already had a family. Eventually, Japanese soldiers came and bayoneted the family and pushed them into a pond. The fiancé did not die in the pond (wife died, mother-in-law died, baby died). Only he survived. So he was moving in the pond and the Japanese soldiers saw him moving so they slashed him on the back with a saber (He has been given the nickname 9 lives). They left him there to die. Other relatives eventually found him and brought him to an American camp for treatment and he survived. This happened around Sept. 1944; around a year before running into the cornfield. Eventually the fiancé came back and wanted to marry my older sister.

whatsinyourhead107 karma

How did you manage to escape past the soldiers ?

grandmaama269 karma

In our house, I was tied up with my older sister. I managed to wiggle free, we both ran away. A Japanese soldier tried to bayonet me. I pushed him away and ran towards the cornfield. While running they shot their guns at me. My ears were ringing. The soldiers were drunk at the time, most likely because they knew they had already lost the war.

Workchoices70 karma

Tell me a funny or happy story about those you lost before the war happened.

grandmaama225 karma

My dad is a very good father. He loved us very much. When I was 6 years old, I had whooping cough. He brought me to the city to get an injection everyday for a week. He always carried me on his back across many hills. I could hear him panting very hard. I felt bad for him. I always remembered that very well.

bigshocka65 karma

Are naps more satisfying the older you get?

grandmaama104 karma

Yes, we didn’t have naps when we were young. We worked 8-10 hrs continuously.

[deleted]60 karma

What are your opinions on the wars that are going on now and do you think we'll (the human population) ever learn from our mistakes in that regard?

grandmaama211 karma

War is a waste of life. People don’t need war. We learn, but it’s no use. We keep repeating our mistakes.

BadVogonPoet57 karma

Do you have higher than average expectations of your children/grandchildren based on what you survived and your obvious success in life?

grandmaama109 karma

I want my children to exceed my successes and my grandchildren to exceed their parents. For us, there was no opportunity to study and there was no money; so I want them to make the most of their resources.

theragingfish307752 karma

Have you ever returned to where all of that happened?

grandmaama71 karma

No. I didn't want to go back. My older sister and my older brother went back to pick up the remains of my family.

puredemo45 karma

  • Which family members were executed?

  • What was life like before that incident?

  • What did you do immediately after your escape?

  • Were the Japanese soldiers ever brought to justice, as far as you know?

grandmaama40 karma

They found the 5 soldiers' bodies after they had already committed harikari.

[deleted]44 karma


grandmaama206 karma

At first I was very hurt. but later because of my religion; I trusted in God and tried to forgive them and became strong.

DazBlintze39 karma

Ferdinand Marcos. Good guy or bad?

grandmaama66 karma

Actually he’s not a bad guy; it is his wife who is greedy

ima_angel37 karma

Why did they attack her family? Was it just random or a more structured and strategic attack?

grandmaama63 karma

They were already retreating at the time. They wanted to commit harekare. They killed them for no reason.

Calculusbitch33 karma

How do you feel about the Japanese and Japan now? I wish you and your family the best

grandmaama67 karma

I have tried to forgive them. But I can't completely; because I have seen my family killed for no reason.

[deleted]29 karma


grandmaama32 karma


Udub28 karma

How did you get to the states? Favorite food?

grandmaama69 karma

(They ended up in Canada). My husband wanted our sons to get a good education as he and his family were well educated (for the time). We just applied for immigrant status; it was easy back then. Lechon.

VectorJKL23 karma

Sorry to hear that you are feeling sickly. I would like to ask though,

What made you decide to do a AMA on reddit?

Was this decision influenced by your grandchild?

What, if anything did you take with you when you escaped?

grandmaama76 karma

Because my grandson forced me to answer these questions.

No. I did not bring anything. Just the dress I was wearing.

omaha_shanks21 karma

  • What were your thoughts on the Americans in the Philippines before and after the Japanese invasion?

  • How did you survive after fleeing? Were you interred or were you able to hide during the occupation?

  • Do you know why they were executed or was it simply done for no apparent reason?

  • And finally, because my aunt is from the Philippines and she's the best, can you make really really good Lumpia?


grandmaama36 karma

  • The Americans before the Invasion were missionaries and I looked up to them. I still think highly of them.

  • answered previously

  • answered previously

  • YES! I can.

AndrewHollandsworth20 karma


grandmaama58 karma

They should worship the Lord and read the Bible. Do not fall to any vices.

aktsukikeeper18 karma

How did you feel when the war ended? Many people in countries such as Korea and China are still unhappy with the Japanese for their lack of apology. What is your opinion on this? What are your thoughts on Japan?

grandmaama32 karma

I was still not happy because I lost my parents. During the war we were happier because we were still together.

[deleted]16 karma

I was once told by a german man that the japanese were trying to liberate asia from american forces. I have learned that that is total bullshit. How is the religion in your country? How is it different from western churches? Were the japanese religious? How did you meet your husband? What was the worst part of living under japanese rule?

grandmaama16 karma

Mostly Roman Catholic.

We met in grade 6, even though I was 16 - everyone missed several years of school due to the war.

LeroOfTheKodiak16 karma

whats your favorite piece of music?

grandmaama26 karma

Jesus, I Come

[deleted]14 karma

What were the events that lead up to this? How were you able to get away when your family was not?

grandmaama24 karma

I was tied with my younger siblings. When the Japanese soldier tried to bayonet my older sister, she wrestled with him and at this time I managed to get free. When I was free I yelled at my older sister that we are free and we began to run.

zipperzapper12 karma

  • Are you a Filipino?

(To clarify, at that moment in Manila, there were still many foreigners, including some Spanish mestizos living in Manila)

  • Where did that event happen?

  • How did you survive and where did you go after WW2II?

grandmaama18 karma

  • Yes. I am Filipino. (She's actually chinese)
  • Southern Islands
  • I stayed in the Philippines and worked very hard. I went to school; and I had to work my way through school.