Diary of Antonio de las Alas

August 22, 1945, Wednesday

This is really a malaria-ridden region. Already over 30 of us are suffering from this terrible illness, among them Dean Bocobo and Mr. Abello. Some of them also suffer from some mental disorder probably as a result of the disease. If we are not taken away from here soon, I am afraid that we will all get sick.

I have read a magazine published August 13, 1945 by the Pacific General Headquarters of the U.S. Army. There is one very good article entitled “Facts Make for Friendship”. It praises the Filipino character. “Loyalty, courage and kindliness are virtues just as prized in the Philippines as in the United States. But considering the wide dissimilarity of racial backgrounds, climates, and environments, the wonder is that there is so much likeness between the two people…

“The great number of American servicemen spending lavishly increased the amount of circulation and this is of course the cause of sharp inflation. Military personnel can do much toward reduction of prices. Can anybody make deposits or send money home?”

The article praises the effective and valuable services of guerrillas. Regarding independence: “…but as the early terrible memory of Japanese cruelty recedes, it is probable that the full measure of statehood — unqualified by any of the restrictions inevitable under a dominion or commonwealth —will again become an almost unanimous desire.

“This is an old and popular misunderstanding among Americans, that our whole experience in the Islands has been an expensive, eleemosynary project. Nothing could be farther from the truth.

“From 1898 to 1940 the U.S. Government spent altogether somewhat more than a billion dollars on account of the Philippines. Spread over a period of four decades, this averages about $25 million a year — not too lavish a bounty. But $800 million of the total went to the American Army stationed in the Philippines; another $100 to the Navy; and our pacification of the Islands between May 1898 and June, 1902 cost $186,321,000. None of these large sums was spent for the direct benefit of the Filipinos. Other aid — 1903, $3 million for cholera relief; (they gave $10 million to Japan on account of the earthquake in 1923). For the Bureau of Insular Affairs and Resident Commissioner’s Office, $4 million, but the Philippine Government paid the salary and expenses of Philippine Governor General. Coast and Geodetic Survey got $6.5 million, and this is for benefit mostly of the United States. For Agriculture, a few hundred thousand dollars plus $6 million in benefit payments to sugar planters in 1934-1936. Refund of taxes collected in United States on Philippine goods average half a million a year. Excise tax is $120 for redemption of Philippine bonds. Aside from copra tax and the Military expenditures, these totals would hardly build a block on the Escolta. Even private American investment in the Philippines only total $200 million in 1935. Such figures do not justify terming the American experiment in the Philippines a past burden on the American taxpayer. For the future, whatever amount of aid the United States Congress decides to give them, one fact must be remembered. When the Japanese started their invasion in 1941, the Islands were American territory and entitled, as such, to American military protection. They didn’t get it, and our unpreparedness was the root cause of their desolution today.”

The article concluded with the following under the subheading: “They built up the Islands themselves.”

“Viewed in such a light, the Filipinos are sure to be seen as good, loyal friends of ours, who have suffered much in the common cause of rejecting aggression. They have maintained a regard as high as our own for the great heritage of Western culture. Their soldiers have fought bravely and well with pitifully meagre arms. Their people as a whole are now suffering the painful economic effects of price inflation, which weighs far more heavily on them than it does on the American Armed Forces. Finally, the terrific destruction visited on their cities and villages bespeaks our aid, not only on the ground of human sympathy, but of right.”

Coming from an American the above article is great. It does us justice.

The newspapers report that Marshal Premier Tito of Yugoslavia granted a general amnesty to all collaborators except war criminals. It is also reported that Marshal Petain was sentenced to death by the court but that De Gaulle commuted the sentence to life imprisonment.

The foregoing points the way to Osmeña. I believe he should issue a general amnesty. And this should be done immediately to further his presidential ambition. Some of us are getting impatient and it may be too late to win their sympathy if release is delayed. I believe there will be no objection to such action on the part of the Americans. At least I hope so. They have won the war almost without sacrifice of lives and they should be magnanimous to the Filipinos who in truth and in fact have always been their loyal allies.

This morning we all considered that everything was all over — finished. No more hope, no more illusions. Stock Exchange definitely closed as there were no more transactions. Zulueta remarked. “Tu gozo en el pozo,” It seems that the reported radiogram was a fake, a joke. It was certainly a bad, heartless and cruel joke. We suffer enough without it.

I regretted that I changed my attitude. I never paid attention to rumors before. I preferred to use my time doing something else like writing. I was happy. Now that I allowed myself to be carried or influenced by news, I cannot help but worry and suffer at times. My reason for changing was the fact that the war had ended abruptly without hardly any loss on the part the Americans and I thought the latter would be more magnanimous and just forget everything. Furthermore, Osmeña is an experienced, shrewd politician. I presumed that he would make a “master stroke” (goIpe) by just granting a general amnesty to all collaborators. This certainly will insure his election. I suggested to Serging that he write his father.

11:00 a.m. Zulueta arrived from the dentist’s office and he reports that Dr. Reyes, the dentist, said that last night while in the dance given in honor of Col. Gilfilan, Lt. Fernandez received a radiogram which he had not yet codified and which seemed to refer to us.

12:50 a.m. Paredes reports that the cook of Gilfilan stated that he had overheard a conversation to the effect that we were going to be released.

Notwithstanding the apparently reliable sources nobody paid attention to them.

9:00 p.m. Col. Gilfilan came to our quarters and bade us farewell. He was very nice and jovial but left no encouraging words. All hope vanished — general gloom.

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