Don Joaquín Agramon was on board the ship that arrived yesterday from San Francisco and bound for Manila. He asked to be returned to the Philippines, voluntarily.
The ship Justine has left for Japan with Captain McKelvy and his wife on board. The latter said he would be back within three weeks.
A committee of prisoners saw Captain McKelvy and his wife off. He was replaced by Captain McGill, who had already taken his oath of office.
Captain McKelvy told us that the Governor is awaiting the arrival of the next ship, because he does not want to act on the appeal, without first being informed of the latest news. He also said that even if he can not agree on what the signatories claim about the food, because this would mean that he has no concern for the prisoners, he has informed the Governor favorably, that the petition was fair, since from the time some prisoners were allowed to live in Agaña, they have consistently shown exemplary behavior.
Lastly, he said that if no ship would arrive until the 11th, he will board the warship Justine for Nagasaki, with his family. Here they shall await the arrival of a ship bound for San Francisco; but if the Governor does not allow him to go that far, he will just let his family board and he will return after three weeks.
On account of this trip, and since he has done me the big favor of teaching me English, I sent him a pocketbook with a Russian-made leather cover, a picture and a letter which reads:
“SIR: You have taught me English for free for many a weary months. I cannot forget this favor, nor can I reward you for it; but I pray you, as I do now, to accept this pocket-book as a token of my gratitude to your kindness to me.
“Please convey my highest regards and compliments to Mrs. McKelvy, telling her that I should be much gratified to hear of her prompt recovery.
“Wishing that you and your family reach home safely, I remain,
“Your most obedient servant.”
As to the course of events this year, nothing has improved our situation. It is true that the Captain, after seeing the boxes of canned meat delivered to us intact, gave us a supply of fresh meat thrice a week; however, after three weeks, this has been forgotten, and the same boxes were returned to us, and which until now have remained untouched in the prison’s storeroom.
We have been making do with the little that we could ask to be bought from Agaña in terms of vegetables, meat and fish, since one of the servants of our companions in Agaña is now allowed to come every day in the ambulance-car of the Government, if it does not carry numerous load. Mr. Legaspi has taken the trouble of making purchases for the prisoners and he has been doing us a lot of service. Besides, our friends from Agaña think of us once in a while and send us gifts, among whom I owe Mr. Dimayuga special favors.
In spite of all this, a lot us have upset stomachs and resort to vomitting after meals. Perhaps it is the meat and other canned goods that we have to eat, out of necessity ever since we arrived in the island. The doctor ignores this upon consultation with him. My friends, desirous of taking all possible means of relief, sent the following appeal to the Captain:
“MR. GOVERNOR: The undersigned Philippine prisoners, do respectfully entreat you:
“That you will permit them to go out of the Prison up to Agaña town, every morning at the hour you may name, under the obligation of returning on the evening at the chosen hour.
“The undersigned beg you to grant us this favor with no other purpose, apart from the promotion of their spiritual and physical health, than that of looking for a change in their food. The necessity which has forced them to take, contrary to their custom, canned foodstuffs for more than one year, has spoiled their stomach so that now after every meal, instead of feeling satisfied, they feel nauseated and about to vomit.
“While out of the Prison, the undersigned promise to behave as peacefuland honest citizens and, if necessary, to execute faithfully the conditions imposed upon their companions in Agaña, as well as any other requisite you may deem necessary.
“Herewith, please, accept the greetings and respectful compliments of your obedient servant.”
This letter was signed by all prisoners, except Messrs. Ricarte, Barruga, Villarino, Salvante and me.
This month predicts a sad future for the prisoners in the prison house.
Ever since we arrived in the island, we have been fed with canned goods and it was very seldom that we were given fresh meat during the time of Commander Orwig. We had canned meat, canned salmon and bacon, potatoes, etc. Although in the last few days we were already satiated, we did not mind it too much since we were still able to buy from the Commissary sardines, shrimps in cans, ham and other things.
During the time of Captain Shaw, who manifested great concern for us, we were served salmon and given a supply of fresh meat twice a week. Besides, during this time, we could ask either though the guy with a shaven head or through our cook who also had a shaven head to buy for us vegetables, chicken and other goods.
Shaw finally left and Captain McKelvy assumed command. This time, we no longer had potatoes but beans; we could not buy from the Commissary other than cigarettes and they stopped giving us fresh meat. Besides, our head-shaven cook had left and was replaced by Agramon, another companion of ours, who was paid a salary of 30 pesos; however, we were still able to ask the milkman and the servants of those who transferred to Agaña, and who came to visit us often, to do this favor for us, since they were allowed to ride in a car-ambulance that plies through Agaña and Piti (round trip) three times a day.
Then the prisoners ran out of money and the milkman stopped coming, because only a few were able to buy milk. Later, our companions’ servants in Agaña were prohibited from riding in the ambulance, which was solely intended for the Americans and the government service. First we appealed to Captain McKelvy and then to Mr. Pressey, Judge of the Court of First Instance and Assistant to the Governor, that we be supplied fresh meat, as it used to be during the time of Captain Shaw. They promised to do so, but this was never fulfilled.
Lastly, at the start of this month, the prisoners could no longer eat canned meat, no matter how they forced themselves, because they felt nauseated and wanted to vomit. I found out later that the cook, in agreement with the prisoners, did not want to get the ration of canned meat from the Commissary, which supply was to last for ten days. Thinking Captain McKelvy would be offended, I talked to Mr. Llanero, who, being the President, represented the prisoners, so that he could write the captain telling him that the canned goods have not been claimed and that he was advising him about this so that the goods would not be wasted, since the prisoners would not take them.
Captain McKelvy got mad, saying that the prisoners have no right to refuse what is given them; nevertheless, he gave us a supply of fresh meat for a period of three weeks. Then, the cook was ordered to receive the usual supply of canned meat, and we were forbidden to ask the head-shaven guys to buy for us anything, since the Commissary takes care of buying what we need. Our companions ordered the purchase of twenty pounds of meat. It cost them a lot of money but the meat already smelled rotten when delivered to them. On the other hand, those who wish to live in Agaña were not granted a permit. We spent Christmas of 1901 with these painful thoughts. This is not surprising to me, because we were brought here precisely to make us suffer. Much as I am willing to suffer everything, I’m afraid my sick and weak body cannot withstand a prolonged self-deprivation. Be that as it may, I am convinced I will die all by myself, when my country shall no longer need my services.
Mr. Pressey invited me twice to live in Agaña, saying I must not worry about the money, since I would have enough. I have refused these offers, thinking it improper to leave our companions during these critical times.
Besides, I must add that in the past few days, when our companions had just transferred to Agaña, several times the community received from them gifts in kind, such as meat, fish and other things. I remember Mr. Dimayuga in particular, who has often sent me meat and vegetables, etc.
Lastly, I remember Captains Shaw and McKelvy, who took the trouble of teaching us (me and some companions) English, whenever their work allowed them to. Some weeks ago, I had given up studying the language, on account of my poor nourishment, which has deprived me of my high spirits, thinking it would be futile to continue, if, in the end I should die here or return to the Philippines, very sick and incapable of doing something good.
Goodbye to you, 1901! You are leaving us with a sad memory, yet a painful mark in my heart. I welcome you, 1902! Let this year be less severe, not with me anymore, but with my companions and friends.
One of the passengers from San Francisco who came to visit us, Frank S. Cairns, has gifted me with three novels and four magazines in English. I could not write to thank him because I do not know his address in Manila.
Captain McKelvy read to me a letter from the Governor, dated yesterday. It says:
“SIR: I have to request that you will present to Mr. Apolinario Mabini, Filipino prisoner of war, my compliments, and convey to him and the other gentlemen, whom he represents and their servants, my high sense of the courtesy contained in the letter of November 4th, expressing a welcome to me and my family upon our return to Guam.
“Mrs. Schroeder begs to be associated with me in this expression of appreciation.
“Commander U.S. Navy, Governor.
“The Commanding Officer,
Yesterday, the ship Yorktown arrived in this port from Yokohama, bringing on board former Governor Schroeder and his family. On account of this, I sent the Commandant of the establishment, the following letter:
“DEAR CAPTAIN: My companions and I, supposing that Commander Swift will soon leave this island, beg you to complement him, thanking him for all the attentions we have received and saying good-bye and many good wishes on our part.
We shall be much obliged to you also for giving, with our compliments, our most heartfelt welcome to Governor Schroeder and his family.
“Your most obedient servant.”
According to the newspapers, McKinley was wounded at three-thirty in the afternoon of September 6, and died at three o’clock in the morning of September 14, in Buffalo, New York.