Diary of Juan Labrador, O.P.

December 8, 1944

A few days ago, our Chief of Police surprised us with a strange action. He posted his officers at all intersections of Session Road—the Escolta of that locality—during rush hours, calling upon all the males to be present the following morning at the market place, equipped with tools for a day’s voluntary service. Their residence certificate were confiscated to insure against escaping. The following day, everybody—the rich, the poor, Filipinos, Igorots, Chinese, Spanish—in a democratic conglomeration was hauled to the streets to do repair work. On the return trip, an escort truck which was travelling behind fell when the bridge collapsed. All the passengers drowned in the river below.

Having learned this lesson without violent protests from the community, the army herded groups of men, women and children everyday and made them work in unloading very heavy cases of ammunitions, in the construction of fortifications in these mountains and in opening army roads. They are installing cannons in all fountains of this basin—such is indeed the orthography of Baguio. Endless convoys in nocturnal trips move under a dead moon for fear of American birds of prey. They pass with the noise of tin cans, carrying troops and war supplies which they had taken from the civilian populace. We who have taken refuge in this city which is open by topography and closed by strategy, and who have believed it to be defenseless and indefensible, are in for a big disappointment.

In the republic of “volunteer workers” the only compensation you receive is a blow with a stick or a detention in prison if you do not cooperate freely or do not manifest genuine interest in the cause of Asianism and its Sphere. Poor Sphere. At the rate it is being abused, it is losing its image and its name. Even its progenitors seem to have forgotten what it is called.

Pearl Harbor is now three years old, and its memories are being revived by the tropical developments. Can the Sphere resist the onslaughts of the forthcoming summer? The cold waves of Manchuria and of North China may delay its collapse till next winter, but in the tropics it will melt very easily.