Diary of Juan Labrador, O.P.

February 15-29, 1944

The worries, distress and school problems, aggravated by lack of food, have drained my strength, and I had to go to Laguna to recover some vigor from the fresh breeze and nourishment offered by this province. These towns northeast of Makiling are the most peaceful in the archipelago. The guerrillas had already taken refuge in the mountains several months ago, or had returned to their homes, reconciled but not appeased, waiting for further developments. The more zealous groups have settled in the mountains at the opposite coast of Makiling, from where they descend and prey upon the lowland towns, though infrequently, ambushing trucks and destroying army trains.

The bandits of Cavite are the only ones showing signs of happenings all throughout the country. They steal domestic animals, crops, farm equipment, rails and rail ties, electric wires, laundry clothes and even the clothes on persons’ backs.

The Commander of the Constabulary of Calamba called up the El Real Plantation where I was vacationing asking for a truck to transport a contingent to the nearby town of Santa Rosa where the bandits were attacking an outpost. When the driver returned, he was pale and frightened, recounting the fierce battle he witnessed. We did not know what happened and what the casualties were.

I have noted two things in the south. First, that laborers do not want to work in the fields or in factories. They say that their wages would not suffice even if it were doubled, what with rice costing ₱12.00 a ganta and sugar about that much per kilo. Unless they are given these commodities, they will not work.

The Army was expecting this year’s sugar cane yield to be high, but the harvest did not reach even a tenth of the past year’s harvests. After a serious dissappoinment in the failure of the cotton experiment, the military authorities launched a feverish campaign in favor of sugar cane as they are fast running short of alcohol for fuel. The Sugar Association which was commissioned by the military to produce and distribute sugar announced that it would pay ₱16.00 a picul of actual harvests, and that the planters could buy their sugar equivalent to 10% of their production from the Association at ₱35.00 a picul at the black market. How would you expect them to be interested in the Association’s offer?

Another noteworthy development is the intensity of preparations for defense which the Japanese are making around Manila. From Muntinlupa to Caloocan are being constructed a chain of airfields and a small Maginot line from north to south through the towns surrounding the city. It is evident that they are taking the invasion threat very seriously.