About Eriberto B. Misa Jr.

About the author: Eriberto B. Misa, Jr. ( October 8, 1921 — January 3, 2010), reached the rank of lieutenant in the Philippine Army. His father, Eriberto Misa Sr. was Director of the Bureau of Prisons from 1937 to 1949, serving under five Philippine presidents before, during and after World War II. Eriberto Misa Jr. would eventually become Director of the Bureau of Prisons himself.

His autobiography says,

Eriberto B. Misa Jr. born in Zamboanga, Philippines was raised in the various prison compounds where his father was stationed…

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.

As Misa’s daughter wrote in the Philippine Daily Inquirer,

My father, Eriberto Misa Jr., was a member of the daring Ateneo ROTC cadets who, hardly out of college, gallantly volunteered their services at the start of the war under the command of Capt. Eugene C. Lara of Company A, 2nd Anti-tank Battalion, Regular Division, USAFFE. Out of 34 in their command, almost half perished during the war. The rest survived the fall of Bataan, the Death March and concentration camp as prisoners of war.

A summary of his father’s wartime conduct written by Misa Jr. can be found online, Statement: On the Conduct of Lieutenant Eriberto B. Misa and his family during the Japanese Occupation, January 9, 1945.

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.

In 2009, he was conferred the Ozanam Award of the Ateneo de Manila University, “n recognition for his work at the Bureau of Prisons (1949-1959 & 1991-1993), particularly his humane and Christian treatment of prisoners neglected and spurned by society, thus extending to them human dignity while in prison.”

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. he vividness of the entries is explained by what his daughter recounted:

Misa Jr. was a fledgling reporter then and wrote a diary of their horrific and heroic experience. After the war, he contributed to the Free Press. One of his articles, “At 200 yards I watched an air-naval battle” written on March 30, 1946, won an award. Other articles were entitled “Destination- Leyte” written on Nov. 2, 1946, and “Bataan – 9 April 42” among others.