Diary of Felipe Buencamino III

April 16, 1942

Capas, Tarlac

Filipino Concentration Camp

 

Am still alive. Have been here for two days. How long I will stay only God knows. Many are dying here. Right now, somebody just died. He is Teofilo Yldefonso, champion-swimmer, thrice captain of the Philippine swimming team to the world’s Olympics. The wound he sustained in Bataan developed gangrene. few pills of sulfa-thiasol might have saved his life, according to a medical officer. But the Japs do not permit medicine for prisoners. The doctors are now covering Yldefonso’s corpse with newspaper. Later, he will be buried with the other corpses piled high in the adjoining camp.

Right now I can hear someone shouting deliriously: “Water, please, water!” He has stopped shouting. They clubbed him. Now he is unconscious. If the guards had heard him, he would have been bayoneted.

This is not a prison camp. This is a graveyard of living corpses, breathing skeletons…

(later)

Had to stop writing because I was ordered to submit to the Group-head, Gen. Fidel Segundo, the total number of the “living” and “dead” prisoners in our group as of 7:30 this morning. That is my job: to count the living and the dead every morning.

Gen. Segundo gave us a short talk this morning. The General looked thin and haggard, so different from the days in the Tamarao’s polo club when he used to gallop across the field to make a goal. Now he looks aged and infirm, a ghost of his past self. He said: “Boys, our food –you and I– is only one handful of mashed rice and camotes everyday. One canteen-cup of water twice a day. Do not complain. We are prisoners. Such is the fate of the vanquished. Just strengthen your hearts and will to live.”

Mortality today: 300.

(later)

The Japs have made clear that any prisoner who approaches the fence to within a distance of two meters will be shot. The prisoners have been organized into regiments, battalions, companies, and platoons. For every prisoner who escapes, one man in the division will be killed, usually his immediate officer, according to the Japs Camp Commander. Our division head is Gen. Fidel Segundo. Col. Alba is regimental commander. I have been made regimental adjutant.

I understand that there are thousands of people outside the camp, mostly relatives and friends of the prisoners. They are begging the Japs to allow them to send food to the war-prisoners or at least medicine. The Red Cross has made representations to the Japanese High Command to give aid to the war-prisoners in the name of humanity and justice. The Japs have remained firm in their original decision not to permit any help to the war-prisoners. If this state of affairs continues, thousands will die here. This concentration camp will be bleached white with the bones of officers and soldiers whose only “crime” has been to uphold their country’s dignity.

Japs have permitted entrance of the Tribune. I read this editorial which states that Japan is fighting this war “to liberate Filipinos from anglo-saxon oppression.”

2 Responses to “April 16, 1942”

  1. Joey Cumagun

    I’m researching on Teofilo Yldefonzo, as part of a program called Understanding Sacrifice (sponsored by the American Battle Monument Commission). I’m wondering if you could shed more light on Teofilo Yldefonzo – where and how he sustained the wound and if there’s further documentation on the series of events leading to his death. Also is this entry in a diary preserved somehow in an archives or personal collection or book form? Looking forward to hear from you. Thanks!

  2. I’m a teacher in Antioch, CA researching on Teofilo Yldefonzo, as part of a program called Understanding Sacrifice (sponsored by the American Battle Monument Commission). I’m wondering if you could shed more light on Teofilo Yldefonzo – where and how he sustained the wound and if there’s further documentation on the series of events leading to his death. Also is this entry in a diary preserved somehow in an archives or personal collection or book form? Looking forward to hear from you. Thanks!

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