Diary of Juan Labrador, O.P.

December 23, 1943

Christmas will be more gloomy and depressing than those of the past two years, and there would be fewer gifts. Not because there was a proliferation of unemployment—the Army was employing all those who were willing to work in fortification projects into which the whole archipelago was being converted.

There is money aplenty, so much of it that it had lost its value. Fortunes were amassed, some in two or three months, in the maniacal fury of buying things and selling them all. The new rich and some of the old ones, did not know what to do with so many paper bills which filled their pockets. As these bills did not have any guarantee, nor any signature which confirmed them, and as virtually no one believed in the ultimate victory of the Axis, everybody was speculating on the value of these bills when the original ones would be back in circulation. Most people were inclined to believe that President Quezon would not give them any value, or would bring them back to their real values. In view of this, there arose the desire to buy property, jewelry, stakes in mines which did not produce or had not produced in many years, Philippine bills, dollars, gold and anything which represented value for the present and for the future. These were bought at fantastic values.

The transaction of these commodities was the endeavour which today raked in huge profits. Consequently, there were legions of agents devoted to the buy-and-sell business as it was now known. This business was the most common topic nowadays together with that of the war.

Consequently, there are legions of agents devoted to the buy-and-sell business which they transact not in luxurious offices but on the sidewalks of Escolta and Rizal Avenue.

The value of Philippine money is four times that of the Japanese military bills, although legally, they are valued at par. There is big demand for genuine Philippine money, first, because of the expected return of the currency, and second, because there are agents who bring them to those who have fled to the mountains of the Visayas and do not accept Japanese money. Instead, they buy genuine Philippine money at exhorbitant rates. The Military Police is after these runners, many of whom have been caught and thrown into the prisons of Fort Santiago.