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 21, 1945, Tuesday

7:30 a.m. The market was almost dead. There were no quotations for buyers. Sellers were getting sleepy as there was no movement. Don Vicente Madrigal, the President of the Exchange, was so disappointed that he ordered the temporary closing of the Exchange. The sellers left with bowed heads, some even with tears as if some near relations had crossed the Great Divide. But Bayan kept watching and surreptitiously or privately (outside the Exchange), he bought, but timidly and only very small lots.

At 9:00 a.m., Dr. Bunye came and reported that Col. Gilfilan was going by boat. Why not by airplane like others, others who were even minor officers? Immediately we concluded that Gilfilan was going to accompany us, as did Col. Superintendent Forbes when we were brought over here by boat.

At 10:45, Zulueta, who had gone to the hospital not to be cured but rather to smell for news, came back with the report that the Postmaster had certified that the radiogram was authentic. Zulueta considered his trip highly successful because some way or other he was able to connect himself with the cook of Col. Gilfilan and the cook assured that he had overheard a conversation with the Colonel in which the release of war prisoners was mentioned. Immediately the stock market was revived and there were brisk transactions. But Don Vicente persisted in not opening the Exchange, so all transactions had to be done privately — off the Exchange.

At 4:00 p.m., transactions suddenly stopped. It was learned that Col. Gilfilan and Lt. Reyes were going by airplane and not by boat. Consternation! Paredes endeavored to save the situation by stating that his interpretation is just the reverse — that the news was favorable. To show he meant it, he bought some shares. The action of Paredes elicited no enthusiasm.

But we were just like fools. There was too much wishful thinking. When it was found out that the S.S. Mactan had not arrived, some, including myself, illogically came to the astounding conclusion that we were leaving on that boat.

7:00 p.m. Cortez came and reiterated his belief. No reaction.

8:20 p.m. It was announced that MacArthur was going to Washington. More pessimism as it was suspected that in the meanwhile we would be forgotten.

Up to 10:00 p.m., conversations here and there — all pessimistic. Mr. Papa, who works in the Supply Office, said that the matter had been the subject of a conversation in said office among the Americans and themselves. They are all agreed that such a cablegram was received and that war prisoners could be no other than us. If we are not released or taken to Manila, then the word “war” must have been misinterpreted or erroneously codified. It might have been “Insular”.

Let us sleep and hope for a brighter next day.

* * * * *

The Pacifican newspaper states who will be considered war criminals. They are those who sold war materials; those who actually aided the military operations of the enemy; and those who otherwise gave aid to the enemy. We do not come under any of these classifications.


August 19, 1945, Sunday

We went to church and heard Mass. I went to confession and received communion for the second time here, the first time only a week and a half ago — the first time since I was married in 1914.

To express graphically our reactions on news pertaining to our release, our hopes, joys and disappointments, we continued to use stock exchange language. We take as par price an imaginary price of stock in London. From this comes the expression “A la par con Londres”, “at par with London.”

The night before it was 95% par. After Mass, undoubtedly sobered by intense meditation in Church, the excitement that had begun when the radiogram was first received, subsided. Instead a calm consideration of the import of the telegram was made. Somebody noticed that the words “Magic White” were used at the beginning of the radiogram. They also recalled that “Magic” is one of the favorite expressions of Moncado. The conclusion was that Moncado had invented or altered the radiogram. There was no way of finding out as he was not in the stockade.

The question arose as to whom the expression “war prisoners” refers. There could be four kinds of prisoners: (1) insular prisoners who were here when the war broke out and who continue to be here; (2) prisoners sentenced and imprisoned here during the Japanese regime; (3) Japanese prisoners whether military or civilian, and (4) us. There are still many here of those falling under the first category, the insular prisoners, but they cannot be considered war prisoners. As to the second, the interpretation could be stretched so as to consider them war prisoners, but it is not known if there are such prisoners here. The third class clearly are war prisoners, but our information is that there are no such prisoners here. As to the fourth — us — in a way we are war prisoners. Only future events will solve this quandary.

Earlier, radical change or movement in the prices of the stocks occurred only about once a week. Later, it became daily. Now it is hourly. The prices become bearish. Radical changes take place every hour. The extremes are quite far apart. The stockade is now a regular stock exchange with the usual huzzle and buzzle, the nervous demeanor of the traders, and the ticking of tickers. Men converge everywhere, asking one another of any new development. Whenever somebody new enters the stockade, he is immediately besieged with questions; even the American guards were submitted to thorough questioning.

Because of the fear that the radiogram might be a Moncado invention, the differences in interpretation and lack of confirmation, stock prices receded and continued going down every hour. Gloom was beginning to reign when suddenly big Cortez, a Chinese-Filipino who was one of those working in the kitchen, came running as if he was sprinting in a one hundred-yard dash. Everybody became excited and immediately surrounded him. After catching his breath, he told us that the Mess Sergeant had congratulated them because we would soon be released. The Sergeant said that in their barracks they discussed to whom the term “war prisoners” referred, and they concluded that it referred to us. The Sergeant said that the work of construction on the new camp had been ordered suspended by Manila. This happened at about 10:50 p.m. When Cortez came the price had reached already the low price of 50% below par. After the news of Cortez, it rose to 95% above par. Some even wished to offer 100% but desisted. A pandemonium was again about to break and much effort had to be employed to stop it. It was not an easy task to calm them down. We were all in high spirits. At 12:00 o’clock, we went to the Mess with much hunger but without any intention to eat as we were so happy in the thought that we will soon be able to join our families; we did not care to eat anymore.

I shall state that when the radiogram was brought to the stockade on the night of Saturday and when Big Cortez made his famous run, the scene was reminiscent of the scene in the New York Stock Exchange and the Manila Crystal Arcade Stock Exchange during the mining boom in the Philippines, Everybody was excited; everybody had their eyes wide open and ears cocked for any change in prices on the board or for any news; everybody was buying or selling to their financial limit.

In the mess hall (Sunday, August 19, 12:15 p.m.), it was noticed that many colonists were entering and leaving the recreation hall with their baggages. We were told that they were the prisoners who were released and were going to Manila on board the Mactan. The conclusion was that the word “prisoners” in the radiogram did not refer to us. Stock went down. Moncado was sought and he denied that he had falsified or altered the radiogram. He was of the opinion that the radiogram referred to us. Stock prices reacted. We found out that Nadres, the Acting Superintendent of the Colony, also received a radiogram similar in tenor as that received by Col. Gilfilan. Nadres has no jurisdiction over us; he only has the Insular prisoners under him, so that the word “prisoners” must refer to Insular prisoners only. It was explained that the Provost Marshall radioed Col. Gilfilan upon the request of Director of Prisons Misa, as the latter has no jurisdiction over Col. Gilfilan. Stock down. It was discovered that there was a difference between the two telegrams in that the one received by Col. Gilfilan referred to “war prisoners” and we are the only war prisoners here. Stock up.

While we were on our way to the mess hall for supper we met Dr. Reyes, the dentist, and he told us that he had been transferred to the General Headquarters in Manila. Since Dr. Reyes came with us and no substitute had been appointed for him, and since we could not possibly be left without a dentist, the conclusion was that we were going. Market became firm. In the mess at supper, Reyes, who brought the sensational radiogram, and Cortez, the sprinter, confirmed and insisted on the news. Upward trend observed.

Another point nobody could understand is the secrecy maintained by the Colonel and the Lieutenant. If there was such an order why should it be kept secret from us? It was suspected that these officers would not divulge the message to us until the time of our departure, otherwise the people would not work. Furthermore, such is the Army practice. I added that necessary precautions need to be taken — it will take time to notify Japanese subjects to surrender.

That afternoon and evening, the market was very variable— bearish. But all agreed that we will have more or less definite news next day. If work in the new stockade is continued there will be no hope; otherwise, our departure for Manila will be assured. Our night sleep was far from perfect.


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.