Diary of Juan Labrador, O.P.

July 4, 1942

Talking about commercial firms, at the start of the war all big American, British and Chinese establishments were sealed immediately by the military police and emptied of their contents. Lately, bazaars and stores owned by Filipinos or nationals of non-enemy countries were reopened. Unfortunately, however, there is not much to sell: the goods had been looted earlier.

The Army imposes so many restrictions on the transport and sale of prime commodities like rice, sugar, fruits, vegetables, meat and fish, that private businessmen cannot engage in them. There is no published prohibition against bringing these goods into the city, but the military police posted at all entrances of the capital either confiscates the goods—in part or all of it—or buys them at half the price. Hence, at certain points a few kilometers from Manila foodstuffs abound, while they are scarce within the city. It seems that the Army fears a shortage of food supply for its troops. On the other hand, the people are trying to keep the supply from falling into the hands of the army.

The Japanese civilians continue amassing wealth and taking control of business, while Filipino businessmen, except for a few engaged in small retail stores, are virtually being eased out through endless requirements for licenses, and through restrictions or prohibitions imposed by the military authorities.

As to the railway services they were resumed as soon as the bridges were reconstructed. With admirable speed, the Army completed the task of reconstruction so that one can now travel through Luzon, without any more problem except the lack of trains and motor vehicles. Cars are hardly seen in the streets, except those used by the government and the military, while bus service is monopolized by two firms suspected to be Japanese-controlled.

Even the sunken vessels hauled out of Manila Bay and rendered seviceable are being used by the Army or the Navy without their paying any compensation to the owners, who are mostly Filipinos. Since there are no passenger ships, those who travel to the south have taken to using sailboats.