August 22, 1945, Wednesday

This is really a malaria-ridden region. Already over 30 of us are suffering from this terrible illness, among them Dean Bocobo and Mr. Abello. Some of them also suffer from some mental disorder probably as a result of the disease. If we are not taken away from here soon, I am afraid that we will all get sick.

I have read a magazine published August 13, 1945 by the Pacific General Headquarters of the U.S. Army. There is one very good article entitled “Facts Make for Friendship”. It praises the Filipino character. “Loyalty, courage and kindliness are virtues just as prized in the Philippines as in the United States. But considering the wide dissimilarity of racial backgrounds, climates, and environments, the wonder is that there is so much likeness between the two people…

“The great number of American servicemen spending lavishly increased the amount of circulation and this is of course the cause of sharp inflation. Military personnel can do much toward reduction of prices. Can anybody make deposits or send money home?”

The article praises the effective and valuable services of guerrillas. Regarding independence: “…but as the early terrible memory of Japanese cruelty recedes, it is probable that the full measure of statehood — unqualified by any of the restrictions inevitable under a dominion or commonwealth —will again become an almost unanimous desire.

“This is an old and popular misunderstanding among Americans, that our whole experience in the Islands has been an expensive, eleemosynary project. Nothing could be farther from the truth.

“From 1898 to 1940 the U.S. Government spent altogether somewhat more than a billion dollars on account of the Philippines. Spread over a period of four decades, this averages about $25 million a year — not too lavish a bounty. But $800 million of the total went to the American Army stationed in the Philippines; another $100 to the Navy; and our pacification of the Islands between May 1898 and June, 1902 cost $186,321,000. None of these large sums was spent for the direct benefit of the Filipinos. Other aid — 1903, $3 million for cholera relief; (they gave $10 million to Japan on account of the earthquake in 1923). For the Bureau of Insular Affairs and Resident Commissioner’s Office, $4 million, but the Philippine Government paid the salary and expenses of Philippine Governor General. Coast and Geodetic Survey got $6.5 million, and this is for benefit mostly of the United States. For Agriculture, a few hundred thousand dollars plus $6 million in benefit payments to sugar planters in 1934-1936. Refund of taxes collected in United States on Philippine goods average half a million a year. Excise tax is $120 for redemption of Philippine bonds. Aside from copra tax and the Military expenditures, these totals would hardly build a block on the Escolta. Even private American investment in the Philippines only total $200 million in 1935. Such figures do not justify terming the American experiment in the Philippines a past burden on the American taxpayer. For the future, whatever amount of aid the United States Congress decides to give them, one fact must be remembered. When the Japanese started their invasion in 1941, the Islands were American territory and entitled, as such, to American military protection. They didn’t get it, and our unpreparedness was the root cause of their desolution today.”

The article concluded with the following under the subheading: “They built up the Islands themselves.”

“Viewed in such a light, the Filipinos are sure to be seen as good, loyal friends of ours, who have suffered much in the common cause of rejecting aggression. They have maintained a regard as high as our own for the great heritage of Western culture. Their soldiers have fought bravely and well with pitifully meagre arms. Their people as a whole are now suffering the painful economic effects of price inflation, which weighs far more heavily on them than it does on the American Armed Forces. Finally, the terrific destruction visited on their cities and villages bespeaks our aid, not only on the ground of human sympathy, but of right.”

Coming from an American the above article is great. It does us justice.

The newspapers report that Marshal Premier Tito of Yugoslavia granted a general amnesty to all collaborators except war criminals. It is also reported that Marshal Petain was sentenced to death by the court but that De Gaulle commuted the sentence to life imprisonment.

The foregoing points the way to Osmeña. I believe he should issue a general amnesty. And this should be done immediately to further his presidential ambition. Some of us are getting impatient and it may be too late to win their sympathy if release is delayed. I believe there will be no objection to such action on the part of the Americans. At least I hope so. They have won the war almost without sacrifice of lives and they should be magnanimous to the Filipinos who in truth and in fact have always been their loyal allies.

This morning we all considered that everything was all over — finished. No more hope, no more illusions. Stock Exchange definitely closed as there were no more transactions. Zulueta remarked. “Tu gozo en el pozo,” It seems that the reported radiogram was a fake, a joke. It was certainly a bad, heartless and cruel joke. We suffer enough without it.

I regretted that I changed my attitude. I never paid attention to rumors before. I preferred to use my time doing something else like writing. I was happy. Now that I allowed myself to be carried or influenced by news, I cannot help but worry and suffer at times. My reason for changing was the fact that the war had ended abruptly without hardly any loss on the part the Americans and I thought the latter would be more magnanimous and just forget everything. Furthermore, Osmeña is an experienced, shrewd politician. I presumed that he would make a “master stroke” (goIpe) by just granting a general amnesty to all collaborators. This certainly will insure his election. I suggested to Serging that he write his father.

11:00 a.m. Zulueta arrived from the dentist’s office and he reports that Dr. Reyes, the dentist, said that last night while in the dance given in honor of Col. Gilfilan, Lt. Fernandez received a radiogram which he had not yet codified and which seemed to refer to us.

12:50 a.m. Paredes reports that the cook of Gilfilan stated that he had overheard a conversation to the effect that we were going to be released.

Notwithstanding the apparently reliable sources nobody paid attention to them.

9:00 p.m. Col. Gilfilan came to our quarters and bade us farewell. He was very nice and jovial but left no encouraging words. All hope vanished — general gloom.


August 18, 1945, Saturday

9:00 p.m. Since 8:00 p.m., a musical program has been going on to celebrate the birthday of Mr. F. C. de la Rama. In the midst of the intense celebration, Mr. Reyes, who with two other internees had been working in the radio office of the Army under Lt. Fernandez of the Signal Corps, suddenly broke into the crowd with a piece of paper in his hand. He beckoned aside Messrs. Paredes and De la Rama, and whispered to them that a radiogram had been decoded by them indicating that we would be released. He was looking for Chief Yulo who was not present at the party. When he went inside the quarters to look for Yulo, a few who were no longer interested in the program followed him. The radiogram as read by Chief Yulo went something like this: “Magic White. SS Mactan arriving tomorrow. Prepare war prisoners to be released.”

Great excitement! Everybody talking all at once! Pandemonium broke out, but everyone was prevailed upon to calm down as the news must be kept secret or confidential. Employees in the radio room are strictly prohibited from divulging contents of messages. The people could not contain themselves, however; they could not suppress their jubilation. But it was done as a part of the birthday celebration for Mr. de la Rama. The celebration became very boisterous and lively. The singers and poets became more inspired. De la Rama was requested to say a few words. He delivered a speech reminiscent of the Moriones meetings in Tondo. He was lavishly applauded. It was interpreted as a bid for election. It is known that he intends to present his candidacy for a district in Laguna. Some remarked that with his Tagalog oratory and his money he could be elected. He said something else which we appreciate very much. He counselled those in the B class to be united among themselves and with us, and to follow the leadership of the Filipino leaders with us. This seems to have impressed the crowd. The party ended with a grand rush for the cigarettes and cakes freely distributed by Mr. De la Rama.

After the program there were all kinds of comments. I stated that our release can be expected to come soon inasmuch as MacArthur clearly stated that we would be detained for the duration of the war as a measure of military security. Now that the war is ended, no further military security is involved.

It was also customary to recall past events to confirm, interpret or clarify the present event. It was recalled that while Col. Gilfilan was having an inspection this morning, he asked, “When do you want to leave?” This question was then taken as a joke. Now we believe that it was done in all seriousness as the Colonel already knew that we would soon be leaving.

We were so excited that very few of us were able to sleep that night. In the first class quarters, talk continued. I could have slept as I generally sleep well, but I purposely kept myself awake to hear a very important and interesting conversation — a conversation that may affect the future course of politics in the Philippines.

Yulo proposes that we be united, that we organize ourselves, and that we form a ticket for the next general election composed of Paredes for President and Alunan for Vice President. The others will run for the Senate or the House, preferably the latter. He said that he had already decided to retire from politics, but he was now determined to run because the leaders in Manila are hopelessly divided. If this ticket triumphs, our full vindication will have been realized. He thinks this ticket will be very strong. Osmeña and Roxas were both “pros” so that their forces would be divided. The people of Pres. Quezon are still intact and have not made their inclination known. They will rally behind the banner of this ticket. Doña Aurora de Quezon will be a very big factor in Philippine politics and she will undoubtedly support this ticket. Alunan and himself (Yulo) were rivals — if they got together there will be almost a unanimous vote in Negros. Paredes controls more votes in Ilocandia than Quirino who may be the vice presidential candidate in the Roxas ticket. A big percentage of the population is being accused of collaboration and this group will support the ticket. As to the platform, Paredes will draw in the radicals, whereas Alunan will attract the conservatives. Yulo and Alunan can count on the assistance of the Americans and other foreigners who also can wield powerful influence in the Philippines on account of their financial hold on Philippine economic life. Yulo reiterated that if this ticket is not launched and the leaders in Manila continue to be divided, he will retire from politics completely.

The reaction to Yulo’s plan was very favorable. Paredes and Alunan agreed that Yulo himself be the candidate. Alunan wanted to show that he is no less gallant than Yulo. Yulo, however, cut short all talk about his candidacy. Paredes was not displeased as he harbored ambition to be Chief Executive of the Philippines some day. Alunan also is not irrevocably opposed.

The entire group in the officer class, except two or three, is very enthusiastic. One of those who remains silent is Sen. Recto — he avoids the issue by just smiling. He continues to be a sphinx notwithstanding efforts to pump him. It may be that he also has political ambitions, although he insists that his intention is to quit politics and devote his time to his big law practice. Madrigal and Sabido not only are lukewarm, but have insinuated disconformity. This is probably due to the fact that they are too closely attached to Osmeña. They intimated that Paredes should be the vice president in Osmeña’s ticket.

Among the enlisted class, there is greater enthusiasm. Paredes has won their admiration with his virile attitude toward the Americans. They are proud of him because he has no inferiority complex towards the whites like many others, and he champions their rights and petitions even if his own privileges are endangered. There are some who show opposition, but they are very few. They are composed of professional non-conformists or “contrabidas” — always saying “yes” when everyone says “no”, and vice-versa, and those who for purely personal reasons hold a grudge against Paredes.

We got up early the next morning, all sleepy but full of hope.