April 30, 1942

Submitted to Mrs. Escoda the following list embodying the urgent needs of war prisoners in accordance with wishes expressed by officers and men now in Capaz.

I. FOOD

A. Organization: N.F.W.C., Girl’s Scouts, etc.

B. Necessary items: 1, rice; 2. mongo; 3. salt; 4. sugar, panocha; 5. camote, cassava, gabi; 6. lime, calamansi; 7. galletas, biscuits; 8. bananas, papaya, mangoes, guavas—any kind of fruit in season; 9. coffee, tea, ginger; 10. milk; 11. salted eggs.

II. MEDICAL SUPPLIES

A. Organization: Department of Health

B. Necessary items: 1. quinine, iodine, mercurochrome; 4. disinfectants (kreso, lysol, bichloride); 5. alcohol; 6. muslin for bandages; 7. tape; 8. cotton or kapok; 9. sulfathiazol.

III. CLOTHING

A. Organization: Women’s Committee

B. Necessary items; 1. undershirts, shirts, shorts, sweaters, socks; 2. blankets; 3. shoes, slippers; 4. towels.

IV. FINANCE

1. Personal solicitation. 2. Contribution in kind.

V. TRANSPORTATION

A men’s committee to take charge of arrangements for trucks, jitneys, etc., to transport personnel and supplies.

VI. UTENSILS

1. Cooking; 2. forks, knives, spoons, pans, bottles; 3. pitchers, basins; 4. rake, shovel, pick, brooms; 5. empty cans for glasses; 6. tissue paper; 7. empty gasoline cans for water and water wagons.

VII. DISTRIBUTION

1. Bureau of Health; 2. Women’s committee. 

VIII. FIELD WORKERS

Field workers operating under groups in charge of distribution are to be limited to Bureau of Health doctors, nurses, social workers There must be a strong, aggressive, efficient leader.

IX. GENERAL SUPPLIES

1. fuel; 2. cigarettes; 3. matches

The chief consideration is time. Relief must reach the camps with as little loss of time possible if more deaths are to be averted. Average deaths per day according to more accurate reports are over five hundred.

The Japanese are still very strict. They do not permit visitors. They prohibit relatives from sending food and medicine to the captives.

There is a rumor that one of the staff officers of the Japanese Army called Gen. Homma’s attention to the inhuman treatment accorded Filipino and American war prisoners. Gen. Homma was said to have answered: “Let them die, to atone for the thousands among us that also died.”

Today’s Tribune shows pictures of Recto, Yulo and Paredes drinking a toast with Japanese staff officers in a Malacañan reception.

Teofilo Yldefonso, world-famous breaststroker, several years Far Eastern Olympics’ record holder, died in Capaz. He was wounded in Bataan. In the concentration camp, gangrene developed in his wounds. No medicine could get to him. He died in a lonely nipa shed.

Today’s Tribune carriers a front-page item in bold type entitled “Correction” which gives an idea of Japanese mentality. The story follows:

“In yesterday’s editorial we made a mistake using the words ‘His Imperial Highness’ instead of ‘His Imperial Majestry.’ We hereby express our sincere regret about the matter.”

The Japanese soldier is not merely fired with patriotism. He is also inspired by a religious motive. The Emperor is his god.

Philip’s intimate friend, Johnnie Ladaw, was reported killed in Bataan, two hours after surrender. He was machine-gunned by a tank. Johnnie was No. 3 national ranking [tennis] player. He defeated Frank Kovacs of the U.S. at the Rizal court several months before the war.

When I look at our tennis court, I seem to see him. He was always smiling. Maybe he died smiling…


April 29, 1942 – Wednesday

7:30 a.m. We were advised by Captain Nelson, commander of the President Coolidge that a plane had been catapulted from the Richmond to locate the St. Louis a bigger U.S.N. Cruiser which was to meet us.

At 10 a.m. the St. Louis was on sight. Alarm was sounded, the soldiers rushed to their respective guns, and pointed them towards the direction where the cruiser was coming from. The cruiser Richmond immediately changed course and sailed to meet it with everything ready for battle. As the St. Louis approached and its identity was revealed calm reigned again in our ships. Then the Richmond returned to the Navy base somewhere in the Samoan Islands and the St. Louis escorted us. I saw Capain Nelson who informed me that he does not fear submarine attack, nor airplanes. The only possible attack would come from a ‘surface raider’ and we would be able to handle the situation.

Quite warm. Had lunch and dinner in the President’s cabin and stayed on deck until 1 a.m.


April 29, 1942

Emperor’s birthday. All houses were required to display the Japanese flag. Gen. Homma, Commander-in-Chief of the Japanese Army, declared that Japan has succeeded in driving out the power of the United States and Britain in the Orient. Chairman Vargas expressed his gratitude “for the many acts of benevolence of the Imperial forces.”

In Camp O’Donnell, a nephew of mine, Tirso, died because no medicine could be given him. The Japanese Army prohibits the sending of medicines to the sick in Bataan.

Attended a party in Malacañan in honor of the Emperor’s birthday. There was plenty of food. I could not eat. I was thinking of the men starving in Capaz.


April 27-28, 1942

At sea. It is quite warm as we are now near the Fiji and Samoa Islands and approaching the equator. The sea is calmer.


April 28, 1942

According to the Tribune, the Department of Agriculture and Commerce is forming the necessary organization with which to carry out the out the plan to increase and stabilize rice production. The different steps to be taken in this respect, according to information, will be embodied in an Executive Order to be issued by Chairman Jorge Vargas of the Executive Commission, to whom the plan outlined by the Department regarding this matter has been referred for approval.

The Tribune this morning also reported that the Director of Plant Industry and experts of the Military Administration have come to an understanding as to how the Philippines can be made to produce enough rice to meet her own needs.

I’m glad our officials are taking a deep interest in the rice situation. I only hope the plans will not remain plans. Action not plans will stave off impending hunger.


April 27, 1942

The old ways of eating malagkit rice are again in vogue with the scarcity of wheat flour. There is the puto, a neat mound of boiled rice, served with sugar and grated coconut. Other popular variations: champurado, bibingka, ampaw, palitaw, maja blanca and suman.

A Philippine Red Cross unit has been formed by the Executive Commission with the approval of the Japanese Army. The newly created Commission is distinct and independent from the present Red Cross Society which is a chapter of the American Red Cross.

Landings at Cotabato and Parang, Mindanao.

Overheard a conversation at the dressing room of the Philippine Club between two old friends.

“Yes siree, now it’s my turn. I was down during the American regime. Now I’m on top. I am a big shot (expanding his chest), if I may say so myself.

“Well that’s the way with the world. Sometimes you’re up and then you’re down. That’s why they say the world’s round. It turns.”

“You bet, it turns. Now I’m in the government. I am in the Propaganda Corps. (Here he paused while fixing a Japanese flag in his boutonnière.) Ah, I spoke before the war prisoners in Capaz yesterday. It was quite a speech.”

“You mean, the Japanese let you go inside the camp?”

“Sure. Not only that. I gave a speech before thousands of Filipino war prisoners.”

“That’s interesting. What did you say to them?”

“I told them Japan will drive the Anglo-Saxons out of the Orient. Asia for the Asiatics! I told them that Japan came to the Philippines to liberate the Filipinos.”

“Liberate the Filipinos? Liberate them from what?”

“Don’t you read the papers? From Anglo-Saxon imperialism!”

“And what did the Filipino prisoners say?”

“They applauded heartily.”

“And I suppose after your speech they freed the prisoners?”

“No. You know, war and all that.”

“I don’t understand. I thought they came to free the Filipinos. Now more than 40,000 are prisoners.”

“What are you trying to do, contradict me, contradict the Japanese?”

“No, I am just clarifying things.”

“I think you are pulling my leg. People like you under Anglo-Saxon influence. There’s nothing like Japan. Nothing like the Japanese!”

“That’s right, nothing

“What did you say?”

“Nothing… Absolutely nothing.”


April 26, 1942 – Sunday

Attended Sunday Mass at 7:45 a.m. Very rough. Mrs. Quezon and the girls did not attend.

At 11 a.m. The U.S.N. Cruiser Richmond arrived to escort us. The Australian Cruiser returned to Sydney. The Richmond is much bigger and has two planes on board.

Being on the Date line, Sunday is repeated.


April 26, 1942

The concentration camp in Capaz for Filipino and American war prisoners looks like a graveyard. Only there are no tombs and mausoleums and headstones. Instead, there are thousands of walking corpses, breathing skeletons, lying, sitting, crawling, shuffling aimlessly in a bare, treeless, sun-scorched, desert-like area. Capaz is the bivouac of the living dead.

Everywhere suffering humanity walked, squatted, slept, died. There was a cold chill in my heart as I beheld the gruesome sights wrought by the war: a blind officer begging for water to quench his thirst; a young soldier pale and yellow with malaria, shivering on the sand; an old colonel with a blackened leg begging for medicine; an Igorot private shouting deliriously; hundreds of youths with tattered, blood-splattered rags clamoring for food to appease their hunger; an officer on a crutch wandering pointlessly; thousands of dust-begrimed, mud-stained, bony, skeletal, emaciated, sunken-eyed youths fighting for the slow drops of water trickling from a single faucet; hundreds lying limply on the ground waiting for the eternal sleep; a rigid corpse with a smile on his face.

I arrived in Capaz at one o’clock after taking lunch in a nipa hut in Angeles with Arturo Tanco and Dr. Katigbak. In a small house in Capaz, we met Dr. Agustin Liboro and young Enrique Albert. They were preparing medicines for the sick. They did not know how they could send the medicines, but they were going to try their best. The Japanese prohibit the sending of medicines to war prisoners in the concentration camps. They have not permitted the Red Cross nor any relief organization to give succor to the prisoners.

Oscar Jacinto accompanied me to the town convent. There I met Victor Tizon, mayor of Capaz, and Fr. Marcos Punzal. We were told that the only persons authorized to enter the prison camp were: the governor, mayor and teniente del barrio. I persuaded Mayor Tizon to please accompany me inside the camp. I told him I wanted to look for my son. There were rumors that he is sick.

We passed through a narrow, dusty road crossing the camp. On either side of the road were the temporary shelters for the prisoners: on our left were the Filipinos and on the right, Americans. Many prisoners were carrying tins varying in size to fetch water. The main problem in the camp was water. I was told afterwards that the lives of many young boys could have been saved if water could have only been given them.

I saw the camp hospital. It was no hospital at all. It was a morgue. The men were piled on the floor without pillows nor covering. There were no medicines and very limited food and water. It was a transitional station between life and death. A doctor said mortality in the camp was as high as a thousand a day. Some claim it was more.

For a while we had to stop our car. There was an endless line of stretchers. The American soldiers stood at attention. We took off our hats. I counted 60. They were to be buried in a plot reserved for the dead. One soldier carrying a stretcher suddenly knelt and collapsed. He too was dying.

Outside the camp were thousands of mothers, fathers, sweethearts, relatives, friends, trying to see their loved ones. But the sentries were adamant, stern, strict. Their bayonets were fixed, their fingers ready on their triggers. Around the camp, there were makeshift look-out towers with guards armed with machine-guns. Any prisoners approaching the barbed fence by one meter would be shot.

I saw Mrs. Ciocon. She was there all day waiting for an opportunity to see her son. Mrs. Zobel was there too. Jake, she said was an orderly in the Commandant’s office. Mrs. Gruet was also there. She was able to reach the Commandant’s office. “What do you want?” said the commander curtly. “Please,” she said in tears, “is my son alive? Is he in camp?“ The Japanese looked at the records, read the names, then he stood at attention, bowed low, paid homage to the mother of a war hero. “Madam,” he said, “your son is now in a better place.”

As it was getting dark, we decided to return home. Before leaving, I gave a bundle containing a can of coffee, some sugar and quinine capsules and sulphathiasol to Mayor Tizon. “Please,” I said, “try to give this personally to my son.”

On the way home, we met more people in cars and trucks and jitneys and carromatas going to Capaz. I saw Dr. Escoto and he told me that he was able to go inside the camp. “Philip is sick,” he said.

When I arrived home, I told my wife and kids about the sad conditions of the prisoners in Capaz. To break the loneliness, I told my daughter Neneng, to switch on the radio.

A Filipino official was giving a speech praising the magnanimity of the Imperial Japanese Army.