About the author:
Major Eriberto B. Misa, Sr., Director of the Bureau of Prisons from 1937 to 1949, served under five Philippine presidents before, during and after World War II. An honest and fearless military man, he initiated reforms in the Philippines’ antiquated prison farms. As a result, prisoners were treated more humanely and their dignity kept intact. His peers and wards held him in high esteem. When he died in 1949, the Manila Bulletin eulogized him with the words: “He made prison life bearable.” This is the essence of his 25 years of dedicated service to the Bureau.
Eriberto B. Misa Jr. born in Zamboanga, Philippines was raised in the various prison compounds where his father was stationed. He saw first hand his father’s involvement and the significance of his vision. This served as his inspiration to make a vow to preserve his legacy in the Bureau.
A veteran of the Death March, Misa, Jr. became his father’s trusted aide in managing the tentative handling of Filipino guerilla prisoners in the New Bilibid Prison in Muntinlupa during the Japanese Occupation. After the war, he joined an oil company, an involvement that proved to be financially rewarding. He had to leave it, however, to fulfill his father’s last wish, that one of his five sons serve in the Bureau of Prisons and continue his mission.
In 1949, President Elpidio Quirino appointed Eriberto B. Misa Jr. as assistant superintendent of San Ramon Prison and Penal Farm, the same position his father held upon joining the Bureau. Within five years he was promoted to Assistant Director, only to be ousted in 1959 due to political intrigues and maneuverings. He left the service and went into private business. This was interrupted only by his election as delegate to the Second Philippine Constitutional Convention in 1971. Thirty-three years later, in 1991, Misa Jr. was recalled by President Corazon Aquino to head the Bureau of Corrections as Prisons Director. Just as his father expected, he served the Bureau with honor and made prison life bearable during his watch. In 1992, Pope John Paul II conferred on him the knighthood of the Order of Pope St. Sylvester, given to lay individuals for their service to the church and fellow men.
About the diary:
The diary entries come from a chapter of Double Life Sentence by Eriberto B. Misa, Jr.: Part II “The War Years,” V. “A Young Man’s War Diary” (pp. 44-56) and X. “Destination Leyte” (pp. 79-90) which reproduced, in turn, the author’s diary entries. The portions of the memoirs reproduced here are with the permission of the heirs of the author.