At sea. It is quite warm as we are now near the Fiji and Samoa Islands and approaching the equator. The sea is calmer.
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.
The military authorities refuse to give out any information regarding the names and fate of the prisoners, most of whom are concentrated at Camp O’Donnell in Tarlac. Likewise, there is meager news about the prisoners of Bataan.
Many families are getting desperate about the whereabouts of their relatives, if they are not yet dead, that is. Malaria is rampant, and it is said that on the average, about 15 Americans and 30 Filipinos die of it daily.
Nine medical professors of Santo Tomas, some of whom had sons among the prisoners, and a good number of medical students, offered to attend to the sick prisoners. However, the Japanese did not accept them, saying that this would discredit their medical corps as being incapable of attending to the war victims.
I talked with some of the fighting men. Their accounts do not tally, as they each talked about events according to their respective experiences. Consequently, it is difficult to form an exact picture of the state of the Fil-American forces before the attack, during the surrender and after the fall. It seems that when the forces yielded, many of the soldiers who had been receiving good salaries during the war—something like ₱40.00 a month for soldiers—lost everything they had. Other soldiers had nothing to surrender except their arms.
A pre-war medical professor at the UST informed me that among the Bataan fighters, there are more of them afflicted with malaria and dysentery than those wounded in battle. The latter are relatively small in number, especially when compared to the casualties on the side of the Japanese. In Tarlac where he was imprisoned for two months, the Filipino captives are dying of despair, hunger and sickness. The Japanese lose no opportunity to humiliate and insult the Americans and the Filipinos who demonstrate any sign of loyalty to the Americans.
A dispatch from Domei stated that the number of prisoners has reached 62,600, 10,600 of whom are Americans. It added that 2,600 of these Americans are confined in military hospitals.
There are rumors that tomorrow, Emperor’s Day, there would be a grand military parade which will also be in commemoration of the fall of Bataan. However, no official announcement has yet been made to that effect.
Vargas ordered the hoisting of the Japanese flag in all public buildings and appealed to private individuals to do the same in their respective houses. He also prohibited the use of the Philippine flag, on advice of the High Command.
The people are uncertain and reluctant to carry out these directives. On the one hand, they fear being branded as collaborators. On the other hand, they fear the Japanese. If the administration would put more pressure, there would expectedly be many houses displaying the Japanese flag.
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.”
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.
The occupation of Cebu and Panay progresses, and so does the retreat of the USAFFE troops to the mountains. Iloilo, as almost all other big towns, is for the most part devastated. Sugar is now being used as barricades, just as they had done in Cebu, and ships loaded with sugar are sunk at the ports to obstruct Japanese landings.
Meanwhile, isolated groups of soldiers persist in open resistance while the remaining USAFFE forces in Abra and Benguet relentlessly attack the towns of Ilocos and Pangasinan. This division in the Ilocos seems to be the most organized, counting with more soldiers and officers than other groups. They even have an airfield.
In the mining mountains of Camarines Norte, civilians and miners were organized into a militia to attack military posts and army vehicles going to Bicol. Governor Escudero led a resistance group composed of some remaining members of the Constabulary. All of Bicolandia is subject to the constant threats of guerilla groups, and many people have evacuated to Naga where the Japanese have formed barricades. On the other side, armed groups from Pampanga are scouring the mountains of Zambales.
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.
At sea moving north east.
Made a guide on how to apply for rice ration for provinces short of supply.
1. Take an accurate census of your provinces.
2. Based on 300 grams milled rice (uncooked) per person per day, make an estimate of the needs of the provinces per day, per month and for the whole period of scarcity. Indicate deduction that can be made for any local harvests.
3. Have the provincial governor and the provincial commander (army) recommend the ration requested.
4. The request for rice ration will have to be approved by the Military Administration (Manila) at the former Department of Agriculture building. (At present, approval is made by Col. Uzaki). Said office will also determine the quantity and method of rationing for the provinces.
5. Once approved, take to the NARIC, 732 Evangelista, corner Azcarraga.
6. Present price: 117.50 per cavan, no sack, ex bodega. Deposit for sacks: 40¢ each. No checks accepted. Prices subject to revisions
Mr. Inada is getting more despotic, day by day, he slapped another employee.
The newspapers are filled with stories on the kindness of the Japanese. Pictures of Japanese soldiers playing with Filipino children and pictures of Japanese soldiers giving food to Filipino war prisoners.
The Japanese indulge in self-deception.