Diary of Jorge B. Vargas

July 20th, 1946

Woke up around 4 in the morning, but after moving was able to pick up some more sleep until the guard knocked shortly after six. Still sultry but not so warm, yet uncomfortably sticky specially after sweeping & mopping when begins to ooze out with perspiration all over —— Matches are getting scarce had to take an old one I had saved from Yokohama to breakfast, but had to give it to Laurel who has no matches of any kind lefft & is constantly smoking. I can do without it.

Shaving schedule was broken this morning. Kept me uneasy & undecided whether to go to toilette or not for fear of being called out in middle of operations. Thought the new lieutenant has started another reform in the bathing & shaving roster, but found out upon being finally called that a new guard had simply started with the cell nearest the bathroom without regard to the printed roster — explained it was his first time on morning duty, no change in the schedule. Not so bad not to have first chance at shaving in the morning, but with bath it is a distinct advantage to be on top of schedule as the water is then fresh and clean and unused yet.

Shortly after coming back from shave & while preparing to fix my trunk as I had planned for this morning, Pete came in with a big bunch of letters — was instantly glad When I saw him with the bundle & was more agreeably surprised when he said practically all of these letters are for you! I guess! True enough he kept sorting them down from his bundle to my table—letter after letter, 10 envelopes in all! This is the first time I got so much at one time, & they all came from Manila & was more astounded when in opening the first one which I picked up as coming from Inday it was dated July 10th! Only ten days ago today, the fastest mail to arrive. I do not know how I got the feeling upon reading Inday’s that someone had brought it to Tokyo that it must have been Romulo, because I found among the file a letter from Romulo himself, dated Thursday (July 18th) from “‘The Imperial Hotel'” Tokyo  in which the most significant statement is the closing remark “Looking forward to seeing you in Manila soon, I am as ever, Yours sincerely, Rommy.” Said also he had wanted to see me & the other friends here but he was advised “it were better he did not,” & therefore wrote the note. As a matter of fact in Baby’s letter he says Gen. Romulo had visited the family in Kawilihan and had promised to see me here in Tokyo. Learned for first time also from Baby’s letter Romulo had not visited Kawilihan at all from after liberation until then —afraid? or unfriendly? Maybe both. However his present interest in us is compensation enough —after all perhaps he has realized never having stopped being a Filipino, & patriotic one with a few friends even among the guerrillas. In addition to letters Inday sent a prayer-book with a dedication —Guess will have to learn to pray alright when finally liberated from the “liberator” which judging from Romulo’s note will be “soon” & from Linda’s letter to compadre should be between the 15th and 30th of this month. While walking together after reading Billy’s & Linda’s playfulness in her letter remarked “Eso es tu . . ? then suddenly held himself back as if realizing he was giving himself away and continued, “Esa es Linda.” Before reading the letters I had remarked Bobbie had surprisingly written the most newsy letter & Eddie had written a philosophical one —after reading both & was beginning to read Eddie’s “Pueseso no es filosofia, hombre, es “practical” said Aquino defending Eddie, whose letter also impressed to see Isa can write such a nice letter, & Baby’s is the most mature together with those of Eddie & Dading, although Osias still like Bobbie best. Wonder what have happened to previous letters of Baby & Nene —they both say they have written an 18 page one May 10th giving detailed data on our financial affairs—taxes, books of accounts, property recovery etc.— and Nene said he had written twice before—  none of these have as yet arrived, over two months later. As if by some mysterious law of compensation everybody has written this time —Inday, Baby, Isa, Dading, Bobbie, Eddie, Nene, Teresita, MaryLou, and Joe Varela, Nenita & (illegible). (Toto& Mameng were in Negros) except Nena who has been the most consistent letter writer heretofore because of illness — hope she is well by now, & that is that they got my May 31st letter to Inday — one discouraging news from Bobbie, that the Cadillac has been sold. I guess Inday must have either needed money to keep things going or knowing her strong inclinations towards modesty and humility she must have felt the Cadillac was too ostentatious or perhaps some high official needed a really good car & must have prevailed on her to part with the flashing Cadillac. Still I wish she had not sold it — but I must be patient & content with what is left to us after the trouble devastation that other people— Filipinos— have suffered and endured. If she is painting and rearranging the house as Bobbie reports she must have had to raise money somehow & presume she has had to sell a few of our things. I should soon know, & must now begin to pack my own things here preparatory to any sudden notice of departure, as anticipated by Romulo.

Spent the noon hour after lunch arranging my paper, pasting together these notes, sorting photographs. Was called out about two for library — just returned the book I had taken out:— no new magazines and still plenty in my room unread. While on this job, Steinmetz came about 2:30 & told me to get ready to see a visitor ten minutes to three — must be ready so that there won’t be any delay as soon as the call comes. Not knowing who the visitor might be —thought Perhaps it was either Leoni or Gavino or perhaps (faintly) possibly someone from SCAP — put on my best summer suit — the Palm Beach outer with necktie, breast handkerchief, tie holder, watch & all, including even a pack Of Lucky Strike cigarettes. Sure enough, shortly after three, was called out while talking to Tony, the other guard. Tony was almost as excited as I was as to identity of visitor — said he hoped for the best that it might be good news — said to please keep your fingers crossed. Was the first to be called— then.the Laurels, Aquino & Osias. On the way could not refrain from asking the guard who was bringing me to the office who was the caller — “The Colonel, I guess” the guard answered — he was all covered with sweat, you could almost wring his shirt as in laundering. I thought for a time the Colonel might be Hardy & wondered why, had he at last received notice to let us out? I had mixed feelings of surprise and wonderment which must have been translated to my face. When I entered the interrogation room where there were two officers, I immediately recognized a former friendly visitor, Capt. Gross who introduced me to the Colonel who was none other than Alva I. Carpenter, the head of SCAP’s legal Dept. both in Tokyo & in Manila & who had been reportedly decorated by Osmeña for his work in connection with prosecution of alleged collaborationists! But the Colonel quieted my astonishment soon enough by calmly announcing at the very outset of our conversation that he had not come in connection with our case. He had been assigned to take us to Manila! and would like to find out what he could do to help out in getting our things fixed for the trip. Told him I had left quite a pile of private stuff at the Embassy. when I was taken in by the CIC who later on got my keys to my vault and sent me through Capt. Gross an inventory of my personal effects. This inventory did not mention quite a few important items such as 150,000 cash in old Japanese yen, some private papers and something‘ which is of no Particular value to anybody but which I would like as a souvenir, the medal or decoration & its accompanying citation which the Jap Emperor gave me. He used to distribute quite a few of these to many ’people during the enemy occupation, I said. Also mentioned three sets of Sterling silver tableware not included in the inventory & a whole lot of beverages, food supplies & medicines (mostly) Jap which I suppose the occupants of the house, I presume may have consumed, specially the Johnny Walker, Suntory, gin & other drinks I had left in the vault. Forgot to mention the paintings, the saucers, the bicycles & other odds & ends, I have a list of them anyhow, so it would not be difficult to trace them if given a chance. Carpenter said it seems these things had already been transferred by CIC to the 8th Army but latter has not warehoused them properly yet, so that by Monday they may not be ready to show them. Told them it would take very little time for me to identify my boxes and other things & begged I be given opportunity to do so. Carpenter seemed doubtful whether this was possible but said these things would later be shipped to Manila at any rate, after the Alien Property Custodian would screen the stuff. Should have requested to be allowed to see Embassy bldg. as it is today so as to determine what of my personal effects are still being used there. Will do so when Capt. Gross comes Monday morning to check up on the the things we have here Prison. Told them I had plenty when I asked how much baggage we would be allowed to take along & Carpenter answered 55 lbs. Then I said I would have to pack my extra belongings in my trunk locked for shipment later. They thought that would be the best way out, and any small things that we might have to leave behind, he could always pick up on his next trip, as he goes back & forth between Tokyo & Manila having offices in both places. Carpenter said it wouldn’t do to lock the trunk because of inspection upon shipping & it was agreed. I would make an inventory of contents.  It was likewise agreed I would make make an inventory of the contents. It was likewise agreed I would ask Monday for all my things from Sugamo office so as to pack them properly in preparation for the trip. Asked when we were expected to leave, the Colonel said Tuesday, Tuesday? I inquired. When do we arrive in Manila? Same evening, was the reply. How extraordinary, I remarked “Do you know, Colonel, that Tuesday, happens to be my 27th wedding anniversary?” “is that so?” said the Colonel. “If we get a private plane we may arrive there in the evening of the same day. If not we might leave here Tuesday evening & get to Manila at dawn Wednesday.” Then we talked about other matters —— he asked where I live in Manila — Told him out towards Wack Wack in Mandaluyong. Said he had been there several times — told him also of my having kept a few things in a trunk for Gen. Sutherland —— Asked me where I was when Japs came — Told him I had been left purposely by Pres. Quezon & Gen. MacAr to take care of government in Manila together with Claude Bush for H.C.’s office & Gen. Dick Marshall for USAFFE, but that later had to hurry out of Manila around Dec. 30 as the Japs were already pressing in from both North & South of the city. Told him how I destroyed most of the money left in the Treasury & sent to Corregidor a lot more including the reserves & deposits in private banks for which the Japs kept me almost a half day for questioning when they arrived, As he seemed anxious to have time left for the other four Filipinos. yet, I hastened to withdraw, thinking I would tell the rest of the good news, but when I got back to Blue Area the guards wouldn’t let me talk to Osias, Aquino or Laurel — so talked to the Germans first who were out on exercise. Everybody gathered around me and apparently pleased with our good fortune. Told Stahmer had a few toilette articles I would like to leave behind if somebody could use them — he was specially pleased about the Aqua Velva shaving lotion. I told him I could give him & some Mennen’s talcum powder which might help the prickly heat all over his body. Everybody congratulated me at exercise & the rest of us afterwards, after dinner.

All of us were excited during the rest of the evening. Jr. was worried because he had been interrogated earlier in the afternoon about certain guerrilla reports he made to the Japs which Gen. Capinpin had asked him to do, according to Jr., but Which the general said he did not know anything about. This put Jr. on the spot with the guerrilleros and he was so worried about it during our poker game he would not properly put his mind in his hands & was heaviest loser — Osias lost again — 13 this time. Aquino & I the winners. I drew exceptionally good hands at tonight’s game, drawing fathands of high full-house, at least three times, flush once or twice straight several times during the short period of a little over two hours. After the game, I pasted together all the letters I got today through Romulo & packed the pictures so as to facilitate arrangement of trunk in the following morning. Will pack as much as possible at a time so as not to be rushed at the last minute.