September 7, 1945, Friday

Yesterday I began to pack. Everybody was surprised as they knew that I had also become a pessimist. I told them we were going before next Sunday. Zulueta inquired, “On what do you base your opinion we are leaving soon?” I reasoned out that I expect MacArthur would turn us over to the Commonwealth immediately after the signing of the surrender document which took place on the 2nd instant. After assuming jurisdiction, I was very sure the Commonwealth would take prompt action to release us outright or under bail. I was sure that our government would not presume 119 guilty or at least afford us ample opportunity to defend ourselves. The only way to do that is by releasing us under bail in the meanwhile. Nobody seemed to take my hunch seriously.

This morning we woke up full of pessimism and gloom. Even the heavens seemed to decree our fate as it was dark and raining. Not one expected this would be a memorable day. We engaged in our usual activities with despondent demeanor, especially Mr. Zulueta. At about 11:05 a.m. here comes Lieutenant Straddling with his usual solemn attitude. After passing the gate, his face suddenly brightened. He was all smiles. We knew at once he was bringing some news. We were all breathless. We have received so much disappointment that nobody dared to predict favorable news. But when he was near us, he broke the news. Thirty of us were to be taken to Manila the next day. There was no general rejoicing as everybody was afraid that he would not be included among the 30 and nobody knew what the fate of those left behind would be. All listened attentively to the calling of the names. Everyone called burst in joy. After the reading of the names everyone scampered for the list to be sure his name was called or his name was not called. The Lieutenant stopped all chagrin when he announced that we would all be taken to Manila, by groups of about 30 persons in three planes.

We hardly slept that night. We were so excited, kept conversing. We built castles in the air. We remembered our dear ones. We would again enjoy liberty and taste the happiness of being with our family. We began to dream of plans for the future. We remembered and repeated the jokes. Many times we yelled, “Ilaw!”, the joke we played whenever we wanted the light to be put out or whenever we wished noisy or talkative fellows to shut up. We began yelling: “Gil! Cafe, chocolate!” Gil is the tall Spaniard we used to mistake for a “Bombay” because he wears a turban once in a while, who prepares coffee or chocolate for us every afternoon or early in the morning. But at about two o’clock, probably because of the intense excitement, we all fell asleep. At about 3:00 o’clock, we were awakened by noises from heavy steps and the “cocinillas” (small stoves) and pans. It was Gil preparing the coffee. Not knowing it was Gil, everyone began to yell, “Ilaw!” Gil answered that he was preparing coffee. How could it be — it was only 3:00 o’clock! We were not expected to take our breakfast until 5:00 o’clock. But Gil insisted that it was already after 4:00 o’clock. We all consulted our timepieces. It was clear his watch had stopped. We could no longer sleep. We stayed awake in our cots until about 4:00 o’clock when we got up and prepared for the day.


August 23, 1945, Thursday

10:40 a.m. It was reported that the talk all over town was that we were all leaving on the 27th.

Serging Osmeña wrote a letter to his father about our views on his candidacy. It seems that he reported that everybody was inclined towards his father except two or three. As to Recto, Serging thinks he is opposed. Serging also doubts Alunan because of his relations with Roxas. Paredes, Zulueta and others have been joking Serging. They told him that we are all for his father, but that we insist Paredes be the candidate for Vice-President. The truth is that we have not made up our minds. All we agreed on was that we would endeavor to be united; that we would endeavor to vindicate ourselves; and that we would fight against everybody who had been against us. We will see the situation in Manila. We will also do our best to help in the rehabilitation of our country.


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 20, 1945, Monday

As usual, we woke up early in the morning, about 5:30. We used to go to the Mess for breakfast at 6:00 o’clock, but this time we went after 6:30. The stock exchange was opened also very early. Some transactions were immediately registered. But it continued to be weak. In the Mess, we noted that the usual truckloads of colonists that started here everyday for the construction site of the new stockade were absent. “Oh, there will be no work,” everybody remarked. The usual time for lining up came, but there was no “fall in” command for the construction workers. The sour face of the Sergeant was absent. We went into our quarters triumphant.

We had hardly rested when the bell for call for work sounded. To us it sounded like a death knell — bells tolling when somebody was dying or had died as practiced by the Catholics. We sank into our costs, as if we had “lost everything in a rapid stream” (a Tagalog expression when one is in a position of dejection, “Para kang naanuran”). We went out of our quarters and there we saw the hated Sergeant calling men for the new stockade construction. He had to do this because the men were not expecting that there would be work anymore. The stock prices tobogganed down. Unlike in previous hours, the descent continued, not halting even for a second. At 10:30 a.m., the lowest level until then was reached. The market was extremely weak. There were many sellers and hardly any buyers. There was only one brave fellow who continued buying, Mr. Bayan. His optimism continued.

The crisis did not come until 3:15 p.m. upon the arrival of Lt. Hagonberg. De la Rama, already very impatient to know the truth, asked him point blank, “Is the rumor now very strong, that we will soon depart for Manila to be released, true?” The Lieutenant answered without any hesitation, “There is no news about your release.” A heavy thud was heard. It was us like a log dropped over our beds. The market crashed. In the wake of the collapse we saw nothing but men with their chins rested on their hands. It was again reminiscent of the scenes at the stock exchange in Crystal Arcade Exchange when favorite stocks suddenly collapsed. We were lucky that although we claim to have already absorbed the American way of life, there was one feature of it that we had not imitated. In America, among the speculators in Wall Street, cases have been registered where reputed millionaires invested all they had and more in stocks hoping to be multi-millionaires. Sitting in front of the tickers, they watched the market constantly. They watched the value of their stocks go down and continue to go down to the point where if they sell, they would be headed directly for the poor house. A case was reported where the investor dropped the ticker’s lace paper, dismissed all his employees, entered the inner room to his private office, got a glass and the whiskey bottle, and began to drink. When already groggy but not yet completely drunk, he scratched a pathetic note of farewell to his family, laid it carefully on the desk, placed a paper weight on it so that it would not be blown by the wind; pulled out a revolver from his deskdrawer… the rest need not be told. The next day, there was the usual obituary notice. Many similar cases were reported. If we had imbibed this way of life, there would have been one or two for whose soul’s repose we would have been praying.

But something else was happening. At first attributed to Atabrine and to the malaria sickness itself, but later discovered to be the result of mental anguish caused by our unjust, illegal imprisonment, many became crazy and many more were showing signs of mental derangement. Three were already outright insane. Our prominent professor was becoming very eccentric and it is feared that he is going insane. A few others are said to be similarly situated. There is such fear and panic that everybody’s actuations are looked upon as a sign of lunacy. Zulueta said that he is afraid that he is also suffering from some mental illness due to the uncertainty prevailing as regards our release. In response to his remarks, someone related this story: The wife of a Chinese died and he was very much affected. He was continuously crying. While the coffin of the deceased was being lowered, he squatted on the border of the “fosa” (hole where body is buried) and cried: “Oh, take me with you, I want to die.” A man behind him gave him a push and he almost fell. The Chinese told the joker: “Huwag ka bilo bilo.” Translated, “Don’t be joking.” (“Bilo bilo” is really “biro biro” but Chinese cannot pronounce their R’s.) So we immediately told Paco Zulueta, “Huwag ka bilo bilo”.

The stock exchange continued to go down. But a faint pulse could still be detected. It was still breathing. But only Bayan continued vigilant. We noticed, however, that although his optimism had not died out, he was not effecting any actual transaction. At 5:30 p.m. an almost imperceptible reaction was noted. This is due to the fact that Reyes came and insisted in the genuiness of the radiogram. Cortez insisted that work at the new stockade was ordered stopped. Those who worked at the new camp arrived and they were besieged with questions from everybody. News were conflicting. Some said they continued working; some said they did all their jobs; some said they were merely ordered to clean and they were relieved of their responsibility for equipment, etc. As each one had his own version and nothing was clear, Rodrigo was called in as he is alleged to know more inasmuch as he had been talking with the Captain in charge of the construction. He reported that it was true that an order was received in the morning to stop construction work and the people who worked on the site that morning were ordered just to clean the premises. But in the afternoon, he said, the order was changed so that construction had to be continued. We passed the night with pessimism.


June 14, 1945 Thursday

New detainees have just arrived from Manila. Their personal news concerning “collaborationists” are very encouraging. But the newspapers they brought did not seem to justify optimism.

The House has also been organized. The following were elected: Speaker, Hon. Jose C. Zulueta; Pro Tempore, Hon. Prospero Sanidad; Floor Leader, Eugenio Perez. These are all intimate friends of ours, and probably we deportees will now be remembered. As a matter of fact, a resolution, I understand, has already been filed, calling for action on our cases. We were informed that it asked for our liberation. We hope there is no politics involved and that our friends will embrace our cause because they are convinced that we are innocent.

The Secretaries are Jose Mendoza for the Senate and Narciso Pimentel for the House. These two friends are veteran public servants and very efficient. The bad news which saddened us were the speeches of Osmeña and Roxas. They were masterpiece speeches but, from our point of view, were dismal failures. Osmeña talked of all the collaborationists except those of our class. Roxas’ speech was an oration that will make history, but it was weak in parts where he referred to our class. We wondered as to what had happened. Really, the speeches were a contrast to the clear, courageous pronouncements which had heartened us in the past. If it was not an appropriate occasion why should they refer to the matter at all? Speculations in the Colony were rife. Some believe that they had received insinuations from the U.S. military authorities; some attribute it to pressure from elements who either dislike us or are afraid of us; others fear that the two men are somewhat changing unfavorably towards us. Personally, I do not believe they have changed; but there are bigger considerations which made mention of our case inadvisable.

Speaker Jose Zulueta should remain silent as his brother, Francisco, is confined with us.


June 8, 1945 Friday

To our surprise, MacArthur came. When rumors were circulating that Gen. MacArthur was coming, I did not pay attention as I thought it was one of the many jokes daily being dished out to us by fun makers. But when the rumor persisted, I thought that perhaps MacArthur would come since the Americans were looking for naval, military and air bases, and it may be that MacArthur would like to see the place himself. I still believed, however, that he was not coming to our prison.

Last Tuesday, June 5, a Captain from Manila arrived. He went all around our compound. Yesterday, he made us line up in front of our barracks. He said that he wanted the premises and our quarters to be thoroughly cleaned. He divided the men in the enlisted class in groups, each group to be under the personal direction and supervision of each member of the officer class. Like others in the officer class, I was placed in charge of a group. Each group was assigned a section of the prison camp. It was just my bad luck to be assigned to the area from the main entrance to the grounds in front of the quarters. It is a very conspicuous place and I suppose they would like to see it properly cleaned. I had 5 persons under me, but actually only 3 worked as one was later assigned to some other work and the other got sick. We worked the whole day. The next day, June 7, we woke up early, ate our breakfast and again worked the whole day. I was very much satisfied with the result. The place is completely transformed. From a dingy place and a sore spot, it is now a clean, attractive place. So were the other sections. The whole camp is clean and beautiful.

Much of the credit should be given to the Captain. He certainly is a hustler. He gave us no rest. The first day he told us nothing about making us work. He evidently remembered the provisions of the Geneva Convention, as he called all the Class A together and explained that we were not compelled to work, but that he would like us to volunteer. When we agreed, he asked us to sign a letter voluntarily agreeing to assist.

Now I am convinced that some big man was coming, otherwise why all the preparation if only secondary high officials are coming? I believe now that MacArthur is coming.

Yesterday afternoon, the 7th, an incident happened. After lunch, we took a break and returned to our quarters. We had just reached our quarters when we were asked to line up immediately to receive instructions. We were not ready and it took us several minutes before we could fall in line. The Captain got very angry and remarked in a loud voice that when we are called for work, we are very slow, but when it is for meals, we lose no time. We all felt insulted. We resented the remark. It was agreed that a formal protest be filed.

Our present conduct, however, is most reprehensible. The Captain came about 6 o’clock bringing clothes and belts. Many of my companions, who were very angry just moments ago, received him with a smile. They were meek and humble. I could not believe that just a few minutes before, when I wanted to ask for bats for our indoor ball games, they reproached me, remarking that we must not ask for anything. I cannot understand this; these men were the first ones to approach when the Captain came. Not only that. They accepted the clothes and belts brought by the Captain. Their demeanor was conspicuously humble. It was disgusting! Are we sincere in our indignation? If so, we should show it. This is precisely why foreigners think poorly of us because our conduct and countenance are not that of men who had been unjustly treated and insulted. How can we command respect if we do not show dignity?

Later that evening, many of us who were still indignant over today’s incident, drafted a strong protest. There were some differences of opinion as to the form, but no disagreement as to the substance of the protest. As it was already late, we decided to make the final draft the next morning.

This morning, we evidently had pondered on the matter during the night. We were no longer so vehement. We heard Mass and when we returned to our quarters we had apparently cooled off. Perhaps this is something to remember: when passions run high, we should take our time; then we are able to consider the matter on its merits. We finally decided not to protest. I am glad such was the decision. I do not feel the incident was important enough to justify such drastic action. Furthermore, any protest now is too late. We should have protested and even staged a hunger strike when we were first detained. We should have protested when we were brought like cattle in a freight boat. We tolerated insult after insult more serious than the present incident. If we base our protest on this incident alone, they will consider us childish.

Based on experience, I generally do not want to join movements of protest. I have in the past joined protests where a group of men seemed ready to sacrifice and go to the limit if not heard. The person against whom the protest is filed, makes an explanation, at times flimsy and meaningless. At the end, the protestors decide to forget the incident entirely. I would therefore advise everyone to be slow in protesting or complaining, unless one intends to follow it through to the end. For my part, once I enter into the fight, I will not withdraw; I am ready to go to the extreme, unless I later become convinced that I am wrong. It is not a shame to withdraw from a fight but only if reason and facts justify such change.

Later in the morning, it was clear that something was going to happen. Big shots were evidently coming. Early this morning our guards arrived in full regalia uniform. The Captain and the Lieutenant came to give instructions to them. At 10 o’clock, the Superintendent, Col. Forbes, conducted a ground inspection. As a matter of fact, for the last two days there were three inspections daily. Many remarked that it was “vajacion injusta”. We were told to get ready to fall in line at 11 o’clock. I forgot to mention that earlier, we saw our friend Johnny and other guards all dolled up. They were given special instructions on how to salute.

At exactly 11 o’clock, there was a great commotion. As we looked towards the gate we saw a very long line of jeeps and automobiles. Those in the first automobile alighted, and I immediately recognized Gen. MacArthur. He was accompanied by many high officials, by newspapermen and photographers. I did not recognize anybody else, but afterwards I learned that my friend, Don Andres Soriano, was the third man behind the General when the General entered our barracks.

The General lost no time. He immediately proceeded to the quarters accompanied by the officer class. I noticed that the General is much heavier than when I last saw him about four years ago. The General walked through our barracks quite fast, as if in a hurry. On one side of the corridor were lined up Messrs. Yulo, F. Zulueta, Alunan, Abello, Recto, Madrigal, Sabido, Sebastian, and Sanvictores; on the other side, Messrs. Paredes, de la Rama, Sison, Alas, Gen. Francisco, Bayan, Paez, Urquico, and Gov. Aquino. I saw the General glance around briefly and then look ahead. He has many friends among us, some very intimate. Evidently, the General avoided being face to face with his friends. It really would have been embarrassing for him and for us. Under the circumstances, he could not possibly show any familiarity. If he had looked at us and did not show cordiality, we would undoubtedly have resented it. On the other hand, under the circumstances, we too could not show any indication of friendship with him. We learned afterwards that he said that he did not want to see much of us as it would have pained him.

When he walked just passed Recto and Francisco, he abruptly stopped and somewhat hesitated. He looked towards the bed of Francisco and immediately asked Col. Forbes whether we had mattresses. The answer was ambiguous, insinuating that some of us had. The truth is that none of us have a mattress. The General instructed the Colonel to provide us with mattresses. The General asked whether we receive mail. The Colonel answered yes, but not regularly. Only two of us have received letters. The rest of us have not heard from our family since we left Manila. This has caused us to shed copious tears. I am sure my wife had sent me many letters. While I was in the United States I used to receive a letter from her once a week. Something is the matter with our mail. It is torture to us—a cruelty. I hope the authorities concerned would be more understanding and human. We suffer enough and our suffering is aggravated by not knowing the fate of our dear ones. The General gave the Colonel instructions to facilitate the delivery of our mail. He inquired about some more details. Before moving on, he instructed the Colonel to do everything so that we would be comfortable. We deeply appreciate the concern for us shown by the General.

When the General saw Don Vicente Madrigal, one of his many friends, he stopped and told Mr. Madrigal that he saw Don Vicente’s son just the day before, that he is sending his father his love. The scene was touching. Don Vicente bowed many times and could hardly mutter the words of thanks. Tears began to stream down Don Vicente’s face. When the General left, he wept and wept. I approached him to ask for more news, but I could not speak because I also started shedding tears. Don Vicente remarked that he would have preferred not to have received the news. No words can adequately describe the feelings of a man separated from his loved ones.

The General proceeded with his inspection and left immediately after going through all the quarters.

There were varied comments and speculations after the departure of the General. All were agreed that contrary to previous beliefs, his trip had nothing to do with us. He evidently came to look over certain military matters. But there were a few who insisted that the trip to Iwahig had something to do with us. It will be remembered that we sent him a petition sometime ago. It is said that he came to know more about our case; that by his visit, he wished to placate somewhat the bitter feelings he heard we harbored against Americans; and that he wished to show his interest and deep concern for us. We hoped that MacArthur will immediately consider our case, and that his action would be favorable. Gen. MacArthur undoubtedly would do justice. He knows many of us intimately. He knows the instructions given us by President Quezon before he left us, on what our attitude should be towards the Japanese. And above all, he has the welfare of the Filipino people at heart and he knows that we who are here can help greatly in that connection.


May 24, 1945 Thursday

Last night, we received the memorandum order of May 15, 1945, providing for the classification of detainees. Therein we are called “limited assimilated prisoners of war”. The order is issued in accordance with the Geneva Convention. We were detained probably pursuant to (g) paragraph 76 of the Rules of Land Warfare adopted to Geneva. According to this provision, “Persons whose services are of particular use to the hostile army or its government, such as the higher civil officials x x x, may be made prisoners of war.” I doubt the applicability of this provision to us. The Philippine Republic during the Japanese occupation not being recognized by America, its declaration of the state of war was illegal and null and void. If so, the Philippines was not only not an enemy, but an ally. This was evidenced by the fact that Filipino soldiers fought side by side with the American soldiers.

The order classifies those in this community into two: those with “Officer Status” and those with “Enlisted Status”. Those belonging to the former are Emilio Abello, Rafael R. Alunan, Sergio L. Aquino, Sergio Bayan, Antonio de las Alas, Francisco C. de la Rama, Guillermo B. Francisco, Vicente Madrigal, Jose Paez, Quintin Paredes, Claro M. Recto, Pedro A. Sabido, Jose G. Sanvictores, Proceso E. Sebastian, Teofilo Sison, Jose Urquico, Jose Yulo and Francisco Zulueta. To the Enlisted Status belong all other detainees in this camp. I repeat that we did not ask for classification to foment class distinction and because we do not want to mix with the other people in the compound some of whom are very poor or very ignorant. We of course would prefer to be in quarters separate from the present compound for the sake of more comfort and sanitation. But if classification does not result in separate quarters, we would have preferred to let things stay as they are. Our companions have been true friends to us. I also admire their spirit of helpfulness. There are many of them who whenever they see us working insist on doing the work. Their attitude is very encouraging. It shows that complete union of the Filipinos can be realized.

One of the main differences between the two classes is that the officer class will not be required to work. The enlisted class may be so required.

I forgot to state that the officer class were former governors, chiefs of bureaus, cabinet members, as well as heads of the military establishment under the Japanese.

In the memoradum order, there is an expressed prohibition for an officer to have a personal servant, and those in the enlisted class are not permitted to act as personal servants to any other individuals confined in the camp. Undoubtedly, this prohibition has been purposely prescribed. We so-called big shots are being charged with using the others as servants or as orderlies. This is of course far from the truth. We have never required anybody to work for us, nor have we requested them to do so. Any service rendered by them has been entirely voluntary and upon their own initiative. They know that we are not used to doing manual labor, and following the Filipino custom and tradition, they insist on doing the work for us. In the provinces, if you have been good to your neighbors they would not allow you to do manual work. I believe this is also the case in the United States and everywhere else. The leaders are supposed to do the intellectual work, the manual labor being performed by those not prepared for the intellectual and technical work. Nevertheless, we insisted in doing manual work. Even Chief Justice Yulo and the millionaire Vicente Madrigal had to take a broom and sweep.

In accordance with the memorandum order, all detainess had to elect a spokesman. He is to act, not only as liaison officer, but as the representative of the detainees in presenting their grievances and complaints. We elected for the position Speaker Quintin Paredes, a very able and worthy man for the position. We virtually have constituted him the leader of the officer class.

The enlisted detainees also had to elect one group leader for every 250 men. For this position, they elected Dr. Hilario Camino Moncado. Both elections will have to be approved by the commanding officer of the camp. Unfortunately, the men belonging to the enlisted class have not been taking the matter very seriously. They joke a lot about it, and I am afraid this time they’ve gone too far. They held an election for assistant leader, although the memorandum order did not provide for such position. The joke was that they put up as candidate a man called Tony, who had been acting as a sort of leader or boss, to run against a man by the name of Cuaresma, who is mentally retarded and physically deformed. Tony had been a good and strict leader, but he lost to Cuaresma who obviously could not be a leader. Naturally, this action irked and angered Tony and now there are division quarrels among them and complete disorganization. Dr. Moncado could not control them; he has resigned.

* * * * *

I must preface the following discussion by stating that we have reached very definite opinions on certain points: that because of the improper, brutal and even uncivilized conduct of the Japanese in the Philippines, the Filipinos cannot be for the Japanese and will hate them for generations to come; that there is no comparison between the Americans and the Japanese, and if we had to choose between the two, we certainly would vote for the Americans 100%.

But although comparison is odious, we would like to compare the treatment accorded by the Japanese to government officials, and the treatment now being accorded us by the Americans. When the Japanese came they did not arrest nor even molest the Filipino officials. On the contrary, the Japanese offered them the government. The Filipinos were of course reluctant to even consider it. But when they saw that the people were suffering because of abuses on the part of the Japanese soldiers, they accepted believing that they would then be in a position to help and save their countrymen. They discovered later that they could do little.

Worthy of mention also in this connection is that, after a very short detention during which they were given what the Japanese called “rejuvenation course”, our officers and enlisted men in the USAFFE were released.

Whenever we compare this treatment with that being shown to us now, we cannot help but express indignation. We are very bitter. We have been arrested, deported and imprisoned. According to announcements it will be for the duration of the war. What makes it very painful is that we had all been staunch supporters of America before the war; that from the beginning we had prayed fervently for the return of the Americans and for the victory of the United Nations who, we were told, were fighting for individual liberty, for democracy and the right of small nations to continue their independent existence. Being a liberty loving people, the Filipinos wholeheartedly supported America to the extent of sacrificing the flower of our youth. (About 100,000 young men died in Bataan and other places).

What makes it very painful is that we did not have the least intention of serving the Japanese; our sole purpose was to serve our people. At the very first opportunity, we travelled over steep and almost impassable mountains, rivers and ravines to reach the American lines, and we had never experienced such happiness, forgetting our fatigue and sacrifices, as when for the first time in over three years we saw an American soldier. Now these same people that we have waited for so long have arrested and placed us in a penitentiary. What a disappointment! What a paradox!

Today, a Colonel from Manila came for inspection. He went through the premises and left apparently satisfied. But he said something in a very emphatic way which indicates the belief they entertain about us. He said that we must not attempt to communicate anything by any means, such as codes, marks, figures, etc. Their censors are experts and our attempt will be discovered. We are afraid they take as all for spies and traitors.

There was blackout tonight. But no enemy planes appeared. The blackout lasted for only a few minutes so it might have been just an air raid practice. Japanese planes have almost all been destroyed and it is just unthinkable that any of them could reach Palawan especially in view of the fact that they seem to need all their planes somewhere else.


May 12, 1945 Saturday

A general meeting was called. Mr. Paredes explained that there had been thefts in our premises, quarrels, and the sanitation measures were not being observed. He said that the time had come to decide whether the administration and enforcement of the rules should not be turned over to the Army. A general discussion ensued. It was the prevailing opinion that we should continue administrating our own affairs. But everybody should agree to abide by the decision of the corresponding authority and to submit to any punishment meted out. All agreed. I am happy that this was the decision as we must show that we know how to take care of our own affairs.

In the same meeting we were advised by Mr. Sanvictores that a Colonel was coming to hear complaints or anything we wanted to say. We will be allowed to talk to him one by one. Many conferred with the Colonel. As they were private conferences, we do not know what was said. However, it is suspected, as a result of complaints on the part of a few, that one of the complaints is that there is a class composed of the big shots and that those big shots are treating and using the others as servants. Such a charge is of course absolutely untrue. In the first place, none of us ever claimed to be big shot, although Mr. de la Rama always refers to us as “We big shots.” It is true that some of the prisoners are serving us, but it was strictly voluntary. They were the ones who offered to render services probably in return for the fine treatment we extended to them and the many gifts of commodities that we give them. We offered money to them, but they refused. They are fine fellows. We fear that there are some who, for reasons of their own, want to create a division among us. They want the Americans to believe that class distinction exists and that the higher class is enslaving the lower class.

At about noon, many very unfortunate incidents happened. Before leaving for the mess hall, the toilet house was burned. There was quite an excitement as the fire threatened to spread to our quarters. All helped to put out the fire. Abello approached a guard to ask him to do something to prevent the fire from spreading to the quarters. The guard, instead of listening, roughly ordered Abello to go and line up with the others. We succeeded in putting the fire out.

Lunchtime at the mess hall, somebody took the mess kit of Madrigal and offered to get food for him. A guard shouted at Mr. Madrigal to get his own food. When Zulueta stood up to get his drinking cup, the guard also shouted at him to sit down. From the beginning many offered to clean our mess kits after each meal. When a guard saw somebody take Paredes’ kit to clean, he roughly ordered the man to return to his seat. I naturally did not allow Alfredo to get and clean my mess kit. Alfredo is a kindly man who voluntarily and without my previously knowing him offered to serve me. He served me very well. I later found out that he was a Makapili accused of murder. In the course of these incidents one guard was heard to say that he would “fix up those big shots”.

That same afternoon, we, the original fourteen men, met to size up the situation and to adopt whatever measures were necessary. After a discussion it was agreed to authorize Mr. Sanvictores to take up the matter with Col. Forbes through Lt. Severance. Since they themselves had been announcing our classification, we asked that it be formally announced and made effective immediately. After we are classified, we would ask that we be given separate quarters. I was of the opinion that if we were not given separate quarters, we would not be interested in the classification. I believe that our official classification would end once and for all the alleged division into ordinary people and big shots. In so far as food and other commodities are concerned, preferences and advantages have been in favor of those said to belong to the lower class. At any rate such an accusation should be used in favor of the segregation.

Last night, we (Recto, Gen. Francisco, Roy, Bayan, Sebastian, and myself) engaged in conversation just outside our sleeping quarters. Gen. Francisco continued to question his detention. He said that he fought in Bataan and was placed in a concentration camp by the Japanese. When he was released, Pres. Laurel insisted in appointing him Chief of Constabulary. While in that position he not only did not do anything contrary to the interest of the United States and the security of the guerillas, but even encouraged the Constabulary men to join the guerrilla forces. The Japanese had him removed as Chief and even threatened to kill him. After such antecedents, he cannot understand why he is now a prisoner of the Americans. Mr. Recto attacked our detention bitterly. He is sure that it is the result of racial prejudice. Many Americans harbor racial prejudice and even among the guards, it can be seen that they look down on us. The only course open to us is immediate, absolute independence. We will then be able to deal with America and other nations as an independent nation. Alunan is opposed to independence as he is sure there will be revolution in the Philippines. Recto answered that if a revolution has to come, let it come now as it is better to purge the Philippines of the bad elements. After the revolution we will have a stronger nation, just like what happened to America. Out of the civil war arose a more united and consequently stronger and greater nation. Alunan argued that the economic conditions of the Philippines require a period for rehabilitation. I answered that if America really wants to help she can do so even with independence. As an independent nation, we will be in a better position to rehabilitate our economies and also to bargain with America and other nations. Recto added that this is the most propitious time to have our independence inasmuch as Japan is gone and cannot recover within the next fifty years, whereas China will be very busy with their work of unification and construction. He ended by saying that he does not intend to enter politics anymore, but if he does, such will be his policy.

In the course of our conversation, Recto said that Roxas is for postponement of independence; Osmeña has always advocated independence after a period of economic readjustment and not independence at the present time.


April 29, 1945 Sunday

It was 3 o’clock in the morning; the boat started to move. We could not see anything; it was pitch black. Destination unknown.

In the dark, the events of the past days came back to me.

We left Irisan, a town about six kilometers from Baguio on April 12, 1945 headed towards Agoo, an American-captured territory in the Province of La Union. After walking four days and four nights across mountains, we arrived at Pitugan, La Union. Across the river which bordered the U.S.-liberated province, we saw our first sight of our American liberators, a group of soldiers led by a Capt. Linguist. Our happiness at seeing the Americans was such that tears streamed down our faces. “Here are our liberators!” we exclaimed.

The Captain was tall. He might not have been a handsome man but to us he was the embodiment of perfection. He shook hands with Manuel Roxas first, with Jose Yulo next, and then with me. I had shaken hands with presidents (including Roosevelt), emperors (Hirohito and Pu Yi), and princes (Prince of Wales), but I had never taken a hand with more gusto than when I shook the hand of the Captain.

Capt. Linguist was very kind and nice to us. He gave orders left and right, doing everything he could for us. The Americans helped us across the river and, although we were already in the safety zone, the Captain took all the necessary precautions; soldiers with sub-machine-guns were posted around us throughout the night while we slept before proceeding towards the town of Tubao.

Deep in our hearts we felt an unbounded feeling of gratitude. Not for a moment did it enter our minds that our liberators, for whose return we prayed fervently everyday, were going to be our incarcerators.

At 7 a.m., we started for Tubao. When we reached the town of Rizal, we were met by a military truck driven by an American. We boarded the truck and reached Tubao about 10 a.m. Here in Tubao, we saw the place where the shelling of Baguio came from. That same morning, we were taken to Aringay, to the U.S. Army Headquarters. The Americans served us lunch. For the first time since the war, we had a real American dinner with bread and butter, ham, coffee, iced tea, etc. Here we were introduced to the head of the Army operating around Baguio, Major General Carlson.

We were photographed with the General and his staff. The Filipino group was composed of Gen. Manuel Roxas, Chief Justice Jose Yulo, Minister Rafael Alunan, Minister Teofilo Sison, Minister Quintin Paredes, and myself. We were also introduced to Lt. Col. Arcing Arvey. We were asked many questions, one of which was what we thought about the postponement of Philippine independence. As the senior in our party, Mr. Yulo answered for the group—that we were opposed to the proposition. Col. Arvey asked whether we did not need time for economic readjustment. He answered, “There is no incompatibility between the two. We can have independence and economic readjustment with the help of America.”

I was elated at his response as this represented my own thoughts and sentiments. We have heard rumors that the Imperialists had sent men here—Army officers, and men in the C.I.C.—to work for the withdrawal of the independence plan. It was their plan to work through the Filipinos: they want the Filipinos themselves to petition for the postponement of independence. They cannot do it directly in America as the majority of the Americans are against imperialism. As a matter of fact, I was present in the U.S. Congress when they voted down a large appropriation for the fortification of Guam. They argued that America should pull out of the Orient. But the Imperialists want to be able to show that the Filipinos themselves do not want independence. They are absolutely wrong if they think the Filipinos will give up their lifelong desire for independence.

We stayed three days in Tubao. We were given plenty of K-rations to eat. On the morning of April 19, a car driven by an American came for us. We thought we were going to be taken to San Fabian as we were made to understand. But before we started the trip, a Capt. Donahue explained to us that we would be brought to San Fernando where he hoped we would not stay long. He was very nice and apologetic.

We were shown the April 18, 1945 issue of the Free Philippines which stated that Gen. MacArthur had announced that American liberation forces “captured four members of the collaborationists cabinet”. The article continues: “The puppet officials who fell into American hands were Jose Yulo, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, Antonio de las Alas, Minister of Finance, Teofilo Sison, Minister of the Interior, and Quintin Paredes, Minister of Justice, in the quisling Laurel Cabinet.” It also quoted from the American General, “They will be confined for the duration of the war as a matter of military security and then turned over to the government of the Philippines for trial and judgment.”

We were all dumbfounded. We never expected it.

On the way to San Fernando, we passed through San Fabian, a very busy port. All roads were improved, even widened and asphalted. The roads were jammed with military vehicles, including amphibian trucks. We arrived in San Fernando and proceeded directly to the U.S. Army Headquarters. At about 3 p.m., we were told to proceed to Manila. We were not able to say goodbye to our families.

We arrived in Manila at sundown. We drove around to different places, including offices in the Government Insurance Building and the Singian house just below the Ayala Bridge. It seemed like they didn’t know where to take us. Finally, we were taken to a house in Quezon City, arriving there about 7 p.m. Since may daughter Lily, Mrs. Ambrosio Padilla, lived nearby in the San Miguel district, I asked permission to be allowed to visit her. I was rather surprised when my request was denied.

When we arrived in Quezon City, we were joined by Pedro Sabido, F. Baybay, Jose Sanvictores, Francisco Zulueta, Sergio Bayan and Proceso Sebastian. Zulueta sympathized with me; he too could not understand why I was not allowed to see Lily, especially since we spent several days in Quezon City. On April 21, Zulueta was taken ill and had to be brought to a hospital.

We expected to see Gen. Manuel Roxas who was not brought with us to Manila, but he was not among those who arrived. It is said that he was also detained but given a certain degree of freedom.

In the morning of the 24th, Ministers Claro M. Recto, Rafael Alunan and Emilio Abello, and Gen. Guillermo Francisco arrived from Baguio. Recto and Gen. Francisco were very indignant. Recto said that if he had known what was in store for him, he would have preferred to have stayed in Baguio.

Next day, Wednesday, April 25th, we were all photographed and fingerprinted. I felt humiliated. We were all bitter, and we broke into tears. Generally, however, we thought that even this forced detention was better than our situation in Baguio where we were virtual prisoners subject to the dangers of bombing, shelling, and above all massacre by the Japanese Armed Forces.

In the afternoon, we were fingerprinted and photographed again, Gen. Francisco included. The morning photographed and fingerprinting session was for the Military Policy Command; the afternoon session, for the Counter Intelligence Corps.

When we arrived in the house in Quezon City, I was interrogated by two gentlemen, a Mr. Stanford and a Mr. Hendricks. I was questioned not only about myself, but also about others in the party, and other persons. I was asked about Secretary Kalaw, Mayor Guinto, Vice Mayor Figueroa, Vicente Madrigal, Leopoldo Aguinaldo, Sergio and Nicasio Osmeña, Fiscal Mabanag and Camino Moncado. I tried to make a correct and just appraisal of them.

In the following days, from April 25 to the 27th, I was questioned repeatedly. I was asked by Mr. Hendricks and Mr. Stanford about the Philippine currency taken from banks. I prepared a statement in reply to all their questions. In my report I also mentioned about the seizure by the Japanese authorities of the Philippine National Bank funds in Baguio.

After a week of separation, I received for the first time letters from my wife and other members of my family. They arrived in Manila last Sunday, April 22. My son-in-law, Ambrosio Padilla (Paddy), and my brother-in-law, Jose Lontoc, drove all the way from Manila to Tubao to get them. My family is now staying in an “entresuelo” in the grand old house owned by Paddy’s mother located in Rodriguez Arias St. In the letter, my wife wrote that on the way to Manila, they passed by Paniqui, Tarlac, to the house of my other son-in-law, Ramon Cojuangco. Ramon confirmed the death of my daughter, Natividad (Neny). I became almost desperate. When we were taken to the U.S. Headquarters in La Union we met some friends from Manila who were officers of the USAFFE. One of them was Major Nakpil who told me of Neny’s death. Before this, I refused to believe it.

My eldest daughter, Lily, and her family were all in good health. I have a new grandson, born during the battle for liberation of Manila. I have two grandchildren now, the other being Josie.

I also learned about the burning of all our houses. But we would have preferred to lose all if only Neny could have been saved.

Mr. Stanford is a very friendly and understanding gentleman. He promised to do all he could for us. He is a Republican and freely expressed his opinion. Naturally, he opposed many of Roosevelt’s policies. Among other things, he said that all allied nations must be made to defray the expenses of the war.

The next morning, we were all happy, having heard from our families and knowing that they were back safely in Manila. At about 11 a.m., an American Lieutenant came to advise that we were leaving at 12:30 p.m. All of us became very sad. We did not know our destination. I tried to get permission to be allowed to go to the house of the Padillas because it was just nearby. My request was denied. At 1 o’clock, a harsh looking Captain came in a big truck. We were ordered to board the truck. The Captain followed us in a jeep. We were escorted by American guards with rifles. We were told not to talk to anybody.

The truck headed for Quezon Boulevard, and when it turned right on Azcarraga St., we all thought we were being taken to the Bilibid Prison. But we drove by the Bilibid Prison and went straight along Azcarraga St. to the North Port. We heard the Captain asking for directions to Pier 8. We were lost for a while; we even went beyond Tondo Church. Finally, we got to Pier 8.

We were left in the open truck for two hours with the sun blazing down on us. We could have been allowed to leave the truck to be in a shady place since the whole place was under the control of the Army. Here we got an inkling of what kind of treatment was in store for us. The Filipinos around who apparently recognized us, looked at us with sympathetic eyes. Apparently, the delay was due to the fact that we waited for the four trucks loaded with prisoners from Bilibid Prison. Among the prisoners we recognized Gov. S. Aquino of the 3rd District, Gov. Urquico of Tarlac, Hilario Camino Moncado and Francisco C. de la Rama. Later, we found out that the two leaders of the Hukbalahap, Luis Taruc and Casto Alejandrino, were also with them.

At about 3 o’clock, we were ordered to board a landing barge. Gov. P. Sebastian had a heavy load, so I helped him. The barge took us to a boat of 7,000 tons capacity named Lewis Morris. We were ordered to go down to the hold of the ship. It was here where we found out that there were many other detainees, about a hundred of us. We were herded in a place too small for us—crammed in the boat’s hold, about 20 by 20 meters. It was hot. We howled in protest. Overhead, someone removed the wooden trapdoor. It became a little cooler. We were all very thirsty. Moncado saved the situation by managing to go up on deck. How he did it is still a mystery to us. I surmised that he used a human pyramid to reach the opening. He was away for a very long time and we feared that he had been caught. To our surprise and jubilation, he appeared and handed down buckets of water to us.

All expressed indignation. We did not deserve such a treatment. Recto said if he was assured that his family would be taken care of, he would rather die. Gen. Francisco said that after having served the Philippines and America, he could not understand why he was being thus treated. Yulo, the coolest headed among us, said, “I will never allow an American to cross the threshold of my house.”

Later, we learned unofficially that we were going to the Iwahig Penal Colony.

We were served breakfast at 9 a.m. At about 11 a.m., the boat stopped. We were allowed to go up on deck. The air was very refreshing. We saw a convoy of over 50 ships.

We were only allowed on deck for one hour after breakfast. Lunchtime came; we were very hungry. No lunch. After 2 o’clock we were told that we were to be given only two meals a day. Then at 4 o’clock, we were told we could go up on deck again for one hour. Finally, at 5 o’clock, they served us our supper of canned salmon. It was abundant.