July 20th, 1946

Woke up around 4 in the morning, but after moving was able to pick up some more sleep until the guard knocked shortly after six. Still sultry but not so warm, yet uncomfortably sticky specially after sweeping & mopping when begins to ooze out with perspiration all over —— Matches are getting scarce had to take an old one I had saved from Yokohama to breakfast, but had to give it to Laurel who has no matches of any kind lefft & is constantly smoking. I can do without it.

Shaving schedule was broken this morning. Kept me uneasy & undecided whether to go to toilette or not for fear of being called out in middle of operations. Thought the new lieutenant has started another reform in the bathing & shaving roster, but found out upon being finally called that a new guard had simply started with the cell nearest the bathroom without regard to the printed roster — explained it was his first time on morning duty, no change in the schedule. Not so bad not to have first chance at shaving in the morning, but with bath it is a distinct advantage to be on top of schedule as the water is then fresh and clean and unused yet.

Shortly after coming back from shave & while preparing to fix my trunk as I had planned for this morning, Pete came in with a big bunch of letters — was instantly glad When I saw him with the bundle & was more agreeably surprised when he said practically all of these letters are for you! I guess! True enough he kept sorting them down from his bundle to my table—letter after letter, 10 envelopes in all! This is the first time I got so much at one time, & they all came from Manila & was more astounded when in opening the first one which I picked up as coming from Inday it was dated July 10th! Only ten days ago today, the fastest mail to arrive. I do not know how I got the feeling upon reading Inday’s that someone had brought it to Tokyo that it must have been Romulo, because I found among the file a letter from Romulo himself, dated Thursday (July 18th) from “‘The Imperial Hotel'” Tokyo  in which the most significant statement is the closing remark “Looking forward to seeing you in Manila soon, I am as ever, Yours sincerely, Rommy.” Said also he had wanted to see me & the other friends here but he was advised “it were better he did not,” & therefore wrote the note. As a matter of fact in Baby’s letter he says Gen. Romulo had visited the family in Kawilihan and had promised to see me here in Tokyo. Learned for first time also from Baby’s letter Romulo had not visited Kawilihan at all from after liberation until then —afraid? or unfriendly? Maybe both. However his present interest in us is compensation enough —after all perhaps he has realized never having stopped being a Filipino, & patriotic one with a few friends even among the guerrillas. In addition to letters Inday sent a prayer-book with a dedication —Guess will have to learn to pray alright when finally liberated from the “liberator” which judging from Romulo’s note will be “soon” & from Linda’s letter to compadre should be between the 15th and 30th of this month. While walking together after reading Billy’s & Linda’s playfulness in her letter remarked “Eso es tu . . ? then suddenly held himself back as if realizing he was giving himself away and continued, “Esa es Linda.” Before reading the letters I had remarked Bobbie had surprisingly written the most newsy letter & Eddie had written a philosophical one —after reading both & was beginning to read Eddie’s “Pueseso no es filosofia, hombre, es “practical” said Aquino defending Eddie, whose letter also impressed to see Isa can write such a nice letter, & Baby’s is the most mature together with those of Eddie & Dading, although Osias still like Bobbie best. Wonder what have happened to previous letters of Baby & Nene —they both say they have written an 18 page one May 10th giving detailed data on our financial affairs—taxes, books of accounts, property recovery etc.— and Nene said he had written twice before—  none of these have as yet arrived, over two months later. As if by some mysterious law of compensation everybody has written this time —Inday, Baby, Isa, Dading, Bobbie, Eddie, Nene, Teresita, MaryLou, and Joe Varela, Nenita & (illegible). (Toto& Mameng were in Negros) except Nena who has been the most consistent letter writer heretofore because of illness — hope she is well by now, & that is that they got my May 31st letter to Inday — one discouraging news from Bobbie, that the Cadillac has been sold. I guess Inday must have either needed money to keep things going or knowing her strong inclinations towards modesty and humility she must have felt the Cadillac was too ostentatious or perhaps some high official needed a really good car & must have prevailed on her to part with the flashing Cadillac. Still I wish she had not sold it — but I must be patient & content with what is left to us after the trouble devastation that other people— Filipinos— have suffered and endured. If she is painting and rearranging the house as Bobbie reports she must have had to raise money somehow & presume she has had to sell a few of our things. I should soon know, & must now begin to pack my own things here preparatory to any sudden notice of departure, as anticipated by Romulo.

Spent the noon hour after lunch arranging my paper, pasting together these notes, sorting photographs. Was called out about two for library — just returned the book I had taken out:— no new magazines and still plenty in my room unread. While on this job, Steinmetz came about 2:30 & told me to get ready to see a visitor ten minutes to three — must be ready so that there won’t be any delay as soon as the call comes. Not knowing who the visitor might be —thought Perhaps it was either Leoni or Gavino or perhaps (faintly) possibly someone from SCAP — put on my best summer suit — the Palm Beach outer with necktie, breast handkerchief, tie holder, watch & all, including even a pack Of Lucky Strike cigarettes. Sure enough, shortly after three, was called out while talking to Tony, the other guard. Tony was almost as excited as I was as to identity of visitor — said he hoped for the best that it might be good news — said to please keep your fingers crossed. Was the first to be called— then.the Laurels, Aquino & Osias. On the way could not refrain from asking the guard who was bringing me to the office who was the caller — “The Colonel, I guess” the guard answered — he was all covered with sweat, you could almost wring his shirt as in laundering. I thought for a time the Colonel might be Hardy & wondered why, had he at last received notice to let us out? I had mixed feelings of surprise and wonderment which must have been translated to my face. When I entered the interrogation room where there were two officers, I immediately recognized a former friendly visitor, Capt. Gross who introduced me to the Colonel who was none other than Alva I. Carpenter, the head of SCAP’s legal Dept. both in Tokyo & in Manila & who had been reportedly decorated by Osmeña for his work in connection with prosecution of alleged collaborationists! But the Colonel quieted my astonishment soon enough by calmly announcing at the very outset of our conversation that he had not come in connection with our case. He had been assigned to take us to Manila! and would like to find out what he could do to help out in getting our things fixed for the trip. Told him I had left quite a pile of private stuff at the Embassy. when I was taken in by the CIC who later on got my keys to my vault and sent me through Capt. Gross an inventory of my personal effects. This inventory did not mention quite a few important items such as 150,000 cash in old Japanese yen, some private papers and something‘ which is of no Particular value to anybody but which I would like as a souvenir, the medal or decoration & its accompanying citation which the Jap Emperor gave me. He used to distribute quite a few of these to many ’people during the enemy occupation, I said. Also mentioned three sets of Sterling silver tableware not included in the inventory & a whole lot of beverages, food supplies & medicines (mostly) Jap which I suppose the occupants of the house, I presume may have consumed, specially the Johnny Walker, Suntory, gin & other drinks I had left in the vault. Forgot to mention the paintings, the saucers, the bicycles & other odds & ends, I have a list of them anyhow, so it would not be difficult to trace them if given a chance. Carpenter said it seems these things had already been transferred by CIC to the 8th Army but latter has not warehoused them properly yet, so that by Monday they may not be ready to show them. Told them it would take very little time for me to identify my boxes and other things & begged I be given opportunity to do so. Carpenter seemed doubtful whether this was possible but said these things would later be shipped to Manila at any rate, after the Alien Property Custodian would screen the stuff. Should have requested to be allowed to see Embassy bldg. as it is today so as to determine what of my personal effects are still being used there. Will do so when Capt. Gross comes Monday morning to check up on the the things we have here Prison. Told them I had plenty when I asked how much baggage we would be allowed to take along & Carpenter answered 55 lbs. Then I said I would have to pack my extra belongings in my trunk locked for shipment later. They thought that would be the best way out, and any small things that we might have to leave behind, he could always pick up on his next trip, as he goes back & forth between Tokyo & Manila having offices in both places. Carpenter said it wouldn’t do to lock the trunk because of inspection upon shipping & it was agreed. I would make an inventory of contents.  It was likewise agreed I would make make an inventory of the contents. It was likewise agreed I would ask Monday for all my things from Sugamo office so as to pack them properly in preparation for the trip. Asked when we were expected to leave, the Colonel said Tuesday, Tuesday? I inquired. When do we arrive in Manila? Same evening, was the reply. How extraordinary, I remarked “Do you know, Colonel, that Tuesday, happens to be my 27th wedding anniversary?” “is that so?” said the Colonel. “If we get a private plane we may arrive there in the evening of the same day. If not we might leave here Tuesday evening & get to Manila at dawn Wednesday.” Then we talked about other matters —— he asked where I live in Manila — Told him out towards Wack Wack in Mandaluyong. Said he had been there several times — told him also of my having kept a few things in a trunk for Gen. Sutherland —— Asked me where I was when Japs came — Told him I had been left purposely by Pres. Quezon & Gen. MacAr to take care of government in Manila together with Claude Bush for H.C.’s office & Gen. Dick Marshall for USAFFE, but that later had to hurry out of Manila around Dec. 30 as the Japs were already pressing in from both North & South of the city. Told him how I destroyed most of the money left in the Treasury & sent to Corregidor a lot more including the reserves & deposits in private banks for which the Japs kept me almost a half day for questioning when they arrived, As he seemed anxious to have time left for the other four Filipinos. yet, I hastened to withdraw, thinking I would tell the rest of the good news, but when I got back to Blue Area the guards wouldn’t let me talk to Osias, Aquino or Laurel — so talked to the Germans first who were out on exercise. Everybody gathered around me and apparently pleased with our good fortune. Told Stahmer had a few toilette articles I would like to leave behind if somebody could use them — he was specially pleased about the Aqua Velva shaving lotion. I told him I could give him & some Mennen’s talcum powder which might help the prickly heat all over his body. Everybody congratulated me at exercise & the rest of us afterwards, after dinner.

All of us were excited during the rest of the evening. Jr. was worried because he had been interrogated earlier in the afternoon about certain guerrilla reports he made to the Japs which Gen. Capinpin had asked him to do, according to Jr., but Which the general said he did not know anything about. This put Jr. on the spot with the guerrilleros and he was so worried about it during our poker game he would not properly put his mind in his hands & was heaviest loser — Osias lost again — 13 this time. Aquino & I the winners. I drew exceptionally good hands at tonight’s game, drawing fathands of high full-house, at least three times, flush once or twice straight several times during the short period of a little over two hours. After the game, I pasted together all the letters I got today through Romulo & packed the pictures so as to facilitate arrangement of trunk in the following morning. Will pack as much as possible at a time so as not to be rushed at the last minute.


18th — 20th January 1945

Four Japanese Catholic nuns called. They had a small cake baked for us by their Mother Superior. The icing represented the Philippine and Japanese flags. One of the nuns apologized because they had been compelled to make the cake without sugar, butter, or baking powder. Another, who had been in the Philippines, wistfully rehearsed her scant Tagalog and afterward insisted on borrowing a new textbook, Tagalog-Nippongo, brought out a few months ago by one of the Filipinos in Japan. She talked cheerfully of going back to the Philippines which, it seemed, she had grown to love. How shall one make them understand that no Japanese will ever be able to step on Filipino soil for the next generation without running the risk of being torn limb from limb?

Eddie Vargas returned to Tokyo today. All civilian communications to the Philippines have been suspended. When he landed in Taiwan, he said, the airport was still littered with the wreckage of about 70 planes. The planes taking off for the Philippines the next three days had been all shot down and finally he had been forced to give up the trip. On Taiwan he had been constantly shadowed by kempei. He was frisked once after coming from church. One particular kempei, apparently because he did not know anything else in English, kept asking his name. He barely resisted the temptation of giving a different one every time. The kempei in Fukuoka on the mainland proved to be more amenable. Eddie gave him some Taiwan candy every time he wanted to ask questions.

One of our students in Japan, a former guerrilla in the Philippines, shared some of his experiences with me when he called. One youngster in his outfit had cold-bloodedly shot down a town treasurer, in full view of his daughters, purely because the man was making himself unpleasant by too much whining on the way to their hideout where he was wanted for questioning. Another, after a raid on an occupied town, wanted to go back because he had not had a chance to kill his first man. A third, who used to go hunting cows with a heavy machine-gun, finally ended up by betting his coming bonus on the possibility that his revolver, after the half-loaded roller had been twirled, would not go off. He put the gun to his head and it did go off. The young are bloodthirsty, I thought. Possibly they do not know the value of human life.

It was the same student who told me with some relish that since the total blackouts began to be enforced, increasing numbers of women had been found dead in the sidewalk shelters in Tokyo and Yokohama. They had been raped and robbed. When he told me about it, I could not tell whether he was happy because they were Japanese or shocked because they were women. His eyes would fill and deepen and then a teasing, calculating smile would light up his smooth unlined baby’s face.

I have often wondered about Danny. He was in his teens when the war broke out (I think he still is). His father, whom he loves and respects more than any other man, works with the Japanese; he went out to kill them. They did it for the same reason; the independence of our country and the welfare of our people. Was one right and the other wrong; must one and one alone be right and other wrong; or are these shining phrases mere words, habitual disguises for the individual instinct and choice?

Danny was caught, thrown into a dungeon, tortured perhaps, then released on an amnesty (it was the emperor’s birthday). Then he came to Japan as a government scholar. Why? I have never asked him. But I have gathered from loose ends in our conversations and from the stories of his friends, that he wanted to “give the Japs a chance”. Perhaps they meant what they said; perhaps they had something worth learning and working over: a code of honor (even before the war bushido was a good word in the Philippines), the ideal of Pan-Asianism (Asia for the Asiatics, the Philippines for the Filipinos).

But it hasn’t worked out. Danny is too much of an American or too much of a Filipino or too much of both. He thinks in English (although he never could spell), he loves the boogie, he is used to asking questions and getting answers instead of a slap in the face. He hasn’t touched his books in Japan; he wanted to study architecture and they put him in an engineering school; he says he will not be “broken” by the drill sergeants who pass themselves off as teachers.

Now he spends his days making love to Niseis, collecting “military information” for future use, writing poetry, not love poetry as one would expect but “native land” poetry and “peace” poetry and “humanity” poetry in the vein of the “brotherhood of man”. For he has not forsworn Orientalism; he has cut it up and spread it out; he talks of the U.S.S.P., the United States of the Southwest Pacific, and of the “Sepia Federation” which will unite all the Malays; he talks also of writing a book on peace and how it can be found and kept.

One can see that he is no longer bloodthirsty; he can afford to talk tolerantly when he tells his stories of guerrilla murders and raids. He no longer hates the Japanese; he has lived here too long. He only despises them with a contempt that is softened with pity; “These people are crazy. They don’t know what’s good for them. But by God, a few more bombs will l’arn them.” What will his comrades in the guerrilla bands think of him now? Will they think he has gone soft, that he has betrayed them, that he has gone over to the enemy? Or will there be one among them who will comprehend something of the tortured indecision that eats at the secret heart and shakes the brooding soul of every man cursed with understanding, tolerance, and a sense of the kinship of all men?


9th January 1945

Eddie Vargas called up today by long-distance from Taiwan; he is stranded there. All civilian air travel to the Philippines has been suspended. We are now definitely cut off from home; no more couriers, no more letters, even telegrams will be difficult unless they are official and urgent.

As the situation deteriorates, the press is allowed to say more and more, are they learning to let the people down slowly? Or are the authorities trying to frighten the people of Tokyo out of the threatened capital? Now the vernaculars are saying, that the Americans have more ships in the Philippines than the Japanese have planes. So much for the “one ship, one plane” strategy.

The Asahi also carries a “special today from Manila bemoaning the fact that the Japanese could have “annihilated” the American convoy off Mindoro on the 15th December if they had had enough planes. It was, the paper said, “a serious mortification”.

But the people of Tokyo are still looking at the war as something fantastic and far-away. They are now amusing themselves with the report that the Americans are having to fall back on “artificial earthquake” plans to destroy Japan’s main cities. And when there was a full-scale air alarm this noon, there was no one in the basement, which is supposed to be the apartment air-raid shelter.

Instead our French neighbor, Yvonne, who ran away from Paris to escape the war, came rushing in, wringing her hands. She had come back from her apartment to find the gas sealed. She looked terribly thin and anxious; she brought us a present of four eggs and asked for the loan of our gas stove. “Life is so complicated,” she wailed in the way she has of repeating her English lover’s clichés. “They only do it because I’m French.” But in some respect it is her own fault. She had been warned about the limitations on the consumption of gas but she had kept her stove burning practically the whole day for days on end “to heat the apartment” and “because I drink a lot of tea”.

Of course about 70 sen worth of gas (the official limit for one person for one month) is not much but they will probably cut off her gas for the time equivalent to her excess consumption.

Poor Yvonne, life will be so much more complicated without tea.


3rd January 1945

Eddie Vargas enplaned for Manila this morning, his baggage mostly medicines for his family, parcels for home from the students, a letter or two from each of the rest of us.

The Nippon Times carries an article by General Homma. in a reassuring review of the present Philippine campaign he states: “We need not be unduly apprehensive as even if oil will no longer be forthcoming from the southern regions, we can fly our planes with alcohol produced from pine resin.”


2nd January 1945

Koiso ate his words yesterday or perhaps took a bigger mouthful. In a New Year’s Day radiocast he proclaimed that Leyte was no longer decisive; “the entire Philippines…is the crucial battlefield.”

The Burmese military cadets are out on furlough over the holidays and the Burmese military attache has been hunting all over the city for a pig to give them one decent meal before they go back to their rations of rice and pickles. Today he called us up again to ask if our cook could help him locate a pig in the black market. At first it seemed hopeless. The cook knew where to get the pig but he claimed that his friend the meat-dealer had a son going into the army today and that nothing, not even a thousand yen, would persuade him to go out to the black-market pig-farm. My friend the colonel however was his usual persistent and resourceful self. He asked for the man’s address and in one hour he had the pig. One bottle of Japanese whiskey had worked it. Cost of the pig: 600 yen; of the whiskey: 300 yen.

In the evening there was a farewell dance for Eddie. It was the first ever held in the chancery. The cold hall looked different with the desks out of the way, a fire actually blazing in the shuffling dimness; a phonograph provided dance-music muted to a whisper to defer to Japanese prejudices. We all took a turn or two but most of the dancing was done by Nisei girls and all those young Filipino students who were going to be made over into grim and earnest Japanese.


1st January 1945

Almost on the stroke of twelve the air-raid siren sounded. We were having a New Year’s Eve dinner at the embassy and the sound of the signal made everyone homesick. We fell silent around the table and looked at one another, remembering Manila before the war where the sirens of the government ice-plant and the ships in port had always joyously called in the new year with one great and happy shout. The past teased us with a lawyer’s question: where were you on the eve of the 1st January 1941? I found I could not answer, it seemed so many lifetimes ago and there was nothing to link us with it except this thread of sound, a sound that we remembered as strangely eager and exultant and which how had turned shrill and lonely with tortured apprehensions.

Outside the skies were empty but there was a tiny blaze in the distance and the fire-engines were already out hooting to work. All around us the darkened city seemed to wait breathlessly; only that small bold flare challenged the uneasy night like the first campfire of a conquering army, glimpsed over the horizon.

A few minutes later one of our interpreters came rushing in. He had feared that it was the embassy on fire and, laughing at his fears, we shook off our own depression. He had with him airplane tickets to Manila which he had bought the afternoon before for Eddie Vargas. We were congratulating Eddie when the neighborhood association patrol went howling outside the compound. It seemed there was a light showing. After a futile search all over the building it turned out to be in the chauffeur’s quarters, which was rather disconcerting because the chauffeur is the head of the association.