April 19, 1942

Concentration Camp

Capas, Tarlac

Great day. Dr. Escoto of the Red Cross was able to enter our camp. He was called by the Camp Commander because the Jap guard is sick. He passed our quarters, gave medicines for the boys with dysentery and malaria. He left bottles of quinine and sulfa-thiasol to the medical officers. I asked him if he could give a letter for my family. He said make it small and short so I can keep it in my pocket without the guards noticing. They might search me. I wrote: “Dear Mama and Papa: How are you? I love you.” It was a silly letter.

I am not feeling well. I have a fever everyday. There is nothing to do but pray. I pray as many rosaries as I can. It makes me feel better.

Pimentel and Fernando are sure to die, according to a medical officer…

 

(later)

 

Met a fellow whose name I don’t remember now. He said he asked the doctor to see his family for him, but he forgot to give his address.

Col. Alba told us today that one prisoner was shot while trying to escape.


April 17, 1942

Capas, Tarlac, FCC

 

 

There is only one faucet for our regiment. At nine o’clock today, the Japs opened the main water switch. The boys rushed with their canteens. Some boys were badly hurt in the mad dash for the faucet. Then suddenly, the Japs turned it off again.

Col. Alba has organized the water distribution because of this incident. From now on, a large receptacle will be placed directly under the faucet. The water collected will be equally divided among the boys.

Went to the “hospital” to visit my cousin, Tirso Matias. He was lying on the wooden floor like all the hundreds of sick prisoners. His face was pale and his eyes were yellow. He could hardly talk, and he asked in a very weak voice: “Have you got quinine?” I had none.

This hospital was no hospital. It was really a morgue for those about to die. All the sick were made to lie beside each other on the wooden floor. There were no beds, no medicines, no pillows, sheets, nor blankets. Everybody who was sick was sent to that sweathouse rehardless of the kind of illness. There was one soldier groaning because of an acute appendicitis. Another was hollering for water, but there was no water. One had cerebral malaria, and he kept shivering and twisting. An Igorot soldier had dysentery, and the floor around was wet and covered with flies.

(later)

The sun is scorching. My body is covered with dust because every time the wind blows, it sweeps the sand. This is like a desert.

I am very thirsty. I was not able to drink from my canteen cup this morning because I dropped it. The water spilled on the ground.

Can hear the drone of many planes above. Jap bombers. Probably heading for Corregidor. It must be hell in the Rock. How long will it stand?

It is terrible to see the reactions of shell-shocked soldiers. Just now, one of the boys suddenly trembled at the sound of the planes. His eyes dilated. His facial muscles started to shake involuntarily. His face had a queer, lost, nervous expression.

About 200 died today. Many more will die. I am sure it will reach thousands.

What are our leaders doing? Why don’t the Filipino officials make strong representations? Thousands of young lives are being lost every hour…


April 16, 1942

Capas, Tarlac

Filipino Concentration Camp

 

Am still alive. Have been here for two days. How long I will stay only God knows. Many are dying here. Right now, somebody just died. He is Teofilo Yldefonso, champion-swimmer, thrice captain of the Philippine swimming team to the world’s Olympics. The wound he sustained in Bataan developed gangrene. few pills of sulfa-thiasol might have saved his life, according to a medical officer. But the Japs do not permit medicine for prisoners. The doctors are now covering Yldefonso’s corpse with newspaper. Later, he will be buried with the other corpses piled high in the adjoining camp.

Right now I can hear someone shouting deliriously: “Water, please, water!” He has stopped shouting. They clubbed him. Now he is unconscious. If the guards had heard him, he would have been bayoneted.

This is not a prison camp. This is a graveyard of living corpses, breathing skeletons…

(later)

Had to stop writing because I was ordered to submit to the Group-head, Gen. Fidel Segundo, the total number of the “living” and “dead” prisoners in our group as of 7:30 this morning. That is my job: to count the living and the dead every morning.

Gen. Segundo gave us a short talk this morning. The General looked thin and haggard, so different from the days in the Tamarao’s polo club when he used to gallop across the field to make a goal. Now he looks aged and infirm, a ghost of his past self. He said: “Boys, our food –you and I– is only one handful of mashed rice and camotes everyday. One canteen-cup of water twice a day. Do not complain. We are prisoners. Such is the fate of the vanquished. Just strengthen your hearts and will to live.”

Mortality today: 300.

(later)

The Japs have made clear that any prisoner who approaches the fence to within a distance of two meters will be shot. The prisoners have been organized into regiments, battalions, companies, and platoons. For every prisoner who escapes, one man in the division will be killed, usually his immediate officer, according to the Japs Camp Commander. Our division head is Gen. Fidel Segundo. Col. Alba is regimental commander. I have been made regimental adjutant.

I understand that there are thousands of people outside the camp, mostly relatives and friends of the prisoners. They are begging the Japs to allow them to send food to the war-prisoners or at least medicine. The Red Cross has made representations to the Japanese High Command to give aid to the war-prisoners in the name of humanity and justice. The Japs have remained firm in their original decision not to permit any help to the war-prisoners. If this state of affairs continues, thousands will die here. This concentration camp will be bleached white with the bones of officers and soldiers whose only “crime” has been to uphold their country’s dignity.

Japs have permitted entrance of the Tribune. I read this editorial which states that Japan is fighting this war “to liberate Filipinos from anglo-saxon oppression.”