Diary of Louise Fillmore Blancaflor

April 7, 1943

I have been resting in bed for several weeks to regain some of my lost weight. I have gained eight pounds and am feeling fine.

Coné is well and he, too, has regained his former weight. He has no more trouble with his stomach, but must watch his diet. The children are well and attending school at Colegio de San Jose. The high schools are not open yet, so Dolly cannot resume her studies, although she is studying her music (piano).

On Coné’s birthday, Dorothy prepared a nice lunch and Susie Gurrea came over in the afternoon bringing a birthday cake made from rice flour. All the cakes now are made from rice flour – ground up very fine and believe me, they are as good as cakes made from wheat flour, although bread cannot be baked from it. Elsa Mijares, her mother, and other friends wanted to give a little party, but I thought it was not the time for parties. One can never tell what the Japanese or the guerrillas would think.

Elsa, her mother and children left last week for Manila, and so did most of the German-Jewish refugees. They feel they are safer in Manila. Manila is very crowded as many civilians have returned to the city, and Manila is booming. All Filipino war prisoners have been released, but the Americans are still in the concentration camps. The American Army doctors are in charge of the hospitals in the city. They have been given permission to leave the camp and work in the hospitals and receive a small salary. The priests and missionaries were not concentrated, but were told not to go around too much.

We are catching up with the news and past events which happened while we were in hiding. We found out that on November 15, 1942, all prisoners (Americans and Filipinos) in Iloilo were sent to camp O’Donnell in Manila. This was because the guerrillas had become so strong and the Japanese thought they might enter Iloilo and release the prisoners. They left the camp and slept outside at the port of Iloilo in case the guerrillas stormed the camp. The next day they embarked for Manila and arrived two days later. Coné became ill and was removed from the camp and taken to the hospital where he remained for three weeks. The hospitals were full of sick Americans and Filipinos. Around 27,000 Filipino prisoners have died from malaria and other diseases, and 1,800 Americans. Coné said that from 10 to 100 die a day, and some are dead for two days before they are found. (The situation was relieved a great deal when all the Filipinos were released and allowed to go to their homes. Now there will be more medicines to take care of the remaining Americans.) The Red Cross and the YMCA are very active and are allowed to go inside the prison camp.

On Christmas they had good food as food baskets were allowed to be sent to the camps. Coné became acquainted with a doctor from Colorado and helped him a great deal.

Fortunately, the prisoners from Panay were sent to Camp O’Donnell late during the war, or most of them would have died. Out of 928 prisoners from Panay (Iloilo), only one died.

The higher ranking Americans have been sent to Formosa (Taiwan). We heard what happened to our many American friends: Randolph (a civilian) is in Manila with the Americans. So is Walter Saul. Dr. Cullen has been quite ill and was sent to St. Paul’s hospital in Iloilo.