Diary of Juan Labrador, O.P.

April 15, 1944

The Japanese propaganda reaches up to ridiculous extremes. There was a photo in the papers showing half a dozen eminent old Chinese in a pose of tilling the soil. The photo carried this caption: “Helping in the reconstruction of the Philippines.” The succeeding account stated that the Chinese community had offered to work for the country’s projects, giving an example of civic consciousness and enthusiasm for the development of the Co-Prosperity Sphere. It was further stated that the Hindu community has an ardent desire to emulate the Asian zeal of the Chinese and would soon join them.

However, the reality is an entirely different matter. The fact is, everyday a group of five hundred Chinese are required to report in front of the Far Eastern University which is being occupied by the transportation corp of the Japanese Army. There, they are loaded into army trucks and brought to places of work in army installations outside Manila, where they sweat it out under the sun from eight in the morning to five in the afternoon. And for this they get no compensation but sunstroke and aching muscles.

The Japanese were also made to do this kind of work and one of them commented, after the first day, that he preferred to be thrown into Fort Santiago than to get sick and cramped for the rest of the week. Anyone who seeks to be excused from this kind of work—and sickness is the only acceptable excuse—will have to pay ₱20.00 for every day of absence. Each worker is supposed to offer his free services one day a week.

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