I have been resting in bed for several weeks to regain some of my lost weight. I have gained eight pounds and am feeling fine.
Coné is well and he, too, has regained his former weight. He has no more trouble with his stomach, but must watch his diet. The children are well and attending school at Colegio de San Jose. The high schools are not open yet, so Dolly cannot resume her studies, although she is studying her music (piano).
On Coné’s birthday, Dorothy prepared a nice lunch and Susie Gurrea came over in the afternoon bringing a birthday cake made from rice flour. All the cakes now are made from rice flour – ground up very fine and believe me, they are as good as cakes made from wheat flour, although bread cannot be baked from it. Elsa Mijares, her mother, and other friends wanted to give a little party, but I thought it was not the time for parties. One can never tell what the Japanese or the guerrillas would think.
Elsa, her mother and children left last week for Manila, and so did most of the German-Jewish refugees. They feel they are safer in Manila. Manila is very crowded as many civilians have returned to the city, and Manila is booming. All Filipino war prisoners have been released, but the Americans are still in the concentration camps. The American Army doctors are in charge of the hospitals in the city. They have been given permission to leave the camp and work in the hospitals and receive a small salary. The priests and missionaries were not concentrated, but were told not to go around too much.
We are catching up with the news and past events which happened while we were in hiding. We found out that on November 15, 1942, all prisoners (Americans and Filipinos) in Iloilo were sent to camp O’Donnell in Manila. This was because the guerrillas had become so strong and the Japanese thought they might enter Iloilo and release the prisoners. They left the camp and slept outside at the port of Iloilo in case the guerrillas stormed the camp. The next day they embarked for Manila and arrived two days later. Coné became ill and was removed from the camp and taken to the hospital where he remained for three weeks. The hospitals were full of sick Americans and Filipinos. Around 27,000 Filipino prisoners have died from malaria and other diseases, and 1,800 Americans. Coné said that from 10 to 100 die a day, and some are dead for two days before they are found. (The situation was relieved a great deal when all the Filipinos were released and allowed to go to their homes. Now there will be more medicines to take care of the remaining Americans.) The Red Cross and the YMCA are very active and are allowed to go inside the prison camp.
On Christmas they had good food as food baskets were allowed to be sent to the camps. Coné became acquainted with a doctor from Colorado and helped him a great deal.
Fortunately, the prisoners from Panay were sent to Camp O’Donnell late during the war, or most of them would have died. Out of 928 prisoners from Panay (Iloilo), only one died.
The higher ranking Americans have been sent to Formosa (Taiwan). We heard what happened to our many American friends: Randolph (a civilian) is in Manila with the Americans. So is Walter Saul. Dr. Cullen has been quite ill and was sent to St. Paul’s hospital in Iloilo.
The latest news from Camp O’Donnell reported the death toll of some 30,000 prisoners to this date. This is the most stupid and criminal monstrosity we’ve ever heard of during the war. With a little hygiene and organization in the distribution of food, medicine and sanitary work, this mortality which cries out to high heavens could have been avoided. Those who have been freed recently are indignant about the abuses, neglect, and usurious practices being committed in the concentration camp.
Fortunately, since about two weeks ago, the situation has improved and the congestion was relieved. Aside from releasing the greater number of survivors, the Japanese have assigned American doctors to do sanitary work in hospitals and quarters. So much has been the work accomplished that the day after the doctors arrived, the mortality decreased to 19 deaths in one barrack where there used to be 50.
I talked to some released prisoners. They recounted the treatment they had received at the concentration camp. They were not maltreated nor molested, nor even required to work, especially the Filipinos. Their release was undoubtedly an act of magnanimity, although the skeptics believe that it was due to the lack of food for their sustenance. Perhaps it was also for the purpose of winning public sympathy and loyalty, as the families of the released prisoners were constrained to be careful about the behavior of their wards and relatives.
The death toll at Camp O’Donnell has reached alarming heights. More than 30,000 were buried in Capas, where Camp O’Donnell is situated. Malaria and dysentery, aggravated by lack of food during the sojourn through the mountains of Bataan, caused general weakness among the soldiers. Instead of receiving medical care after their surrender, they were made to march from Bataan to San Fernando, the sick mingling with the healthy. There were some 60,000 of them herded into barracks which were meant to accommodate less than 2,000. The epidemic was widespread. The death toll was something like 500 to 600 a day, and their bodies were dumped into common graves. There were no medicines because those sent by people of Manila through the Red Cross were channeled by unscrupulous doctors to the black market, or sold to the prisoners at prohibitive prices.
Sunday — went to church with Dixon — went to see Col G in the afternoon. Tex Hill Dixon, Miles & I had the last of my Chesterfields & then we had ½ a duck egg — my first protein in a long time. Times of stress sure bring friends close together.
Getting rattled a bit. Three meals of rice –1st with sugar, second with squash, 3rd with comotes– plenty to eat but we need proteins & vitamins, quite a bit of sickness in camp — Diahhrea, Dysentery, Malaria etc & little medecine of any sort. Back still very painful.
Taken by truck to San Fernando & there stripped of razor, small knife, silver pencil, flash light, cigarette case, Compass, etc whistle & letters from Helen. Had plenty of rice, opened the can of tomato soup — Spent the night & at 8:30 had rice & misua to a train for ride to Capaz. Marched from Capaz to ODonnell. Rested & under supervision of N.C.O. provided with water — Civilians gave each of us two cigarettes. Arrived at O.D about 4 –registered & assigned to Co. B of Casual officers. Then Col. G. & the officer of the 1st. Abbott, Thomas Amato have not appeared. Olson lost on way up. Hutchings & Col Ivey believed lost. Abbott & White made Capt. about April 1. White id here A died enroute.
Emperor’s birthday. All houses were required to display the Japanese flag. Gen. Homma, Commander-in-Chief of the Japanese Army, declared that Japan has succeeded in driving out the power of the United States and Britain in the Orient. Chairman Vargas expressed his gratitude “for the many acts of benevolence of the Imperial forces.”
In Camp O’Donnell, a nephew of mine, Tirso, died because no medicine could be given him. The Japanese Army prohibits the sending of medicines to the sick in Bataan.
Attended a party in Malacañan in honor of the Emperor’s birthday. There was plenty of food. I could not eat. I was thinking of the men starving in Capaz.