This morning Porky wanted us (Americans) to build breastworks at the gates. Committee protested, so they had to use Filipinos. Built works of wood and dirt. Commandant ordered this afternoon that at given signal internees were to go to buildings, shut doors and windows and lie prone. There has been guerrilla activity nearby, town of Calawan raided and Mayor “bumped off” within the week; apparently they expect trouble. Not much activity other than routine here. The building program has a long way to go yet. I love you.
…Dreston was robbed last night, he sleeps under cottage 3 and his bed is apart from the others. Someone, probably a Filipino, removed a “tampepe” with a lot of valuable stuff from beneath his bunk sometime between 7 and 9 PM.
Memorial Day—Ever since I can remember, this has been a memorable holiday, the kind that children remember because of their impressions. Strangely enough it has always been associated with warm, clear weather and the smell of lilacs in the air, in contrast to Independence Day, which has always been rainy, or at least spoiled by a shower at some crucial point. The food is improving gradually and we are beginning to get more to eat. Porky now insists that we remove hats and bow to all commissioned officers and give sentries on beat a clear path. Nothing else. Calhoun scheduled to go to Manila tomorrow and I hope the bus brings back a note from you.
My back has been lame from the shoveling yesterday but I went to sleep readily last night, so I guess the exercise was beneficial. I’m pretty thin but feel fine. Some of the conditions here are not so hot, although the J plans are complete for what should be an ideal camp. For instance, there are 4 toilet seats in the Gym for 543 men. The overflow from the septic tanks on the hill behind us are draining onto the athletic field: there are odors, particularly behind the gym, where another sewer drains openly into the creek. All the cooking is done in the open on wood fires. There are almost no medical supplies in camp. Things are OK but really, there’s not much margin and this place could be plenty tough very suddenly.
Porky allowed George to go shopping with the bus today wouldn’t (let) Dayton go out however. Reason: Dayton is a member of this camp, George is Los Baños Internee no. 801 and spends part at Santo Tomás so he can go out. It will probably be announced that we are to uncover and remove cigarette from mouth when we meet, pass or what have you, a guard. Yesterday it was said that if anyone in guards beat path, he would shout when 5 feet away and if path not clear when he reached the spot, we could expect to be pushed out of the way—this last from Calhoun and Orel the interpreter. Jim Neal was standing by the road looking at new construction, he was in charge of the 150 internees who do grading there every morning: and failed to uncover when guard passed. Guard stopped and removed Jim’s hat, then Jim had to accompany him to Guard House. Cal and Orel went over on hearing of it, but Jim had already been released. Porky explained that the guard (sgt.) had not recognized Jim as an internee and brought him as a “suspicious character.” Hadn’t noticed him before and thought that he might have been a guerrilla who had slipped into camp. Jim has red handlebar mustache. What a ridiculous excuse.
Porky continues to be troublesome, wouldn’t (let) the camp vegetable buyer go out even on commandant’s pass. Wouldn’t let the pineapples in or the canteen.
We’ve had beans every day for lunch and today it was very light soup with a few dozen beans. Looks as though I’ll be a monitor. Safety and Order office for X camps building (all of them) and again I am to give an introductory History Course. We mustn’t let this camp life become complicated this time. It won’t be anyway, with no shacks and no meal to prepare at noon. What will it be like to get back to normal living?
*probably erroneously published as May 29, 1943 entry. Succeeding entry is dated Saturday, May 29, 1943.
Well, the notes we sent Monday came back undelivered and we gather that things have been other than quiet at Santo Tomas. I received ₱90 from you today, I suppose it was from G and that you kept half, holding out ₱10 for my shoes… Sugar 1.60 per K, I may get some tomorrow and put it away… The new barracks look good, concrete floors, veranda all around, six men in each space 12′ x 24′ with two tables and 2 lamps. Kitchen for each 960 and bath facilities for each 192. Porky [a Japanese guard or officer] still gets in our hair.
More respect for the guards, maybe some “pushing around” and no sports until 5 PM except Sundays when sports are allowed after noon. Still mush for breakfast, mongo or black beans lunch but a lot of good meat in the stew with rice tonight. 55 cents for a pair of shoelaces.
Dearest Charmian… It will probably be some time before you and the rest of Santo Tomas get here, there’s still a lot of building to do. I’m sure it will be a pretty good camp when it’s finished, I hope it never is. Workmen whistle “God Bless America” while walking to their work on the barracks and tonight while in chow line a lumber truck with some natives went by and all were whistling “The Star Spangled Banner”…
Rain all morning and no sun in the afternoon—chow was good though and we cut a pineapple that was the sweetest I’ve ever tasted, we sent half of it to Mr. and Mrs. Curran. The construction is continuing and there seems to be a nipa roof going on the first barracks. A Philippine nurse is alleged to have told Mrs. C. that there are many barracks under construction across the river.
I wonder if this whole program portends segregation of sexes. I’ve wondered about that for some time. They send men here first and give us no information on the construction within a mile of the camp.
Barracks nearing completion across the creek—no one has seen them yet! Well-driving machinery to be here this week from Manila. I know the postholes were finished today and will be enclosed with barbed wire in a few days—9 P.M. three Tribunes arrived this afternoon, May 20, 21 and 22. I’d say they were encouraging. Nothing new today. No one seems to know much about the plans for the camp, although the native workmen are building all the time. Things are taking shape—’tis said—but that is all anyone knows…