…Rain last night, more washing today, held the surveyor’s tape, conferred with Pinkerton on supplies, etc. Read Liberty Mutual Manual with Dan this P.M. Lee looks funny with his baldy! Ball game tonight, I’m on some team but don’t know which. Rumor has it we’ve taken the Aleutians, 4 navies operating in the Pacific, Santo Tomás has coffee 5 days a week and only one spoonful of sugar per day. Floors of our new home to be concrete, sewage system and flush toilets, etc. They’re still calling for volunteers on the post holes, maybe I’ll go out on it tomorrow. Next group to be wives of men or single women –families will live together? Kodaki and Asst. Konda coming up for inspection next week. Camps now under control of Bur. of Ext. Affairs, Military must have had score to settle.
One week today and we’re all quite comfortable. The early morning was beautiful again and later the cloud banks over the top of Makiling –Washed this morning and weather clear until 6 or so, steady rain since then. It makes a lot of difference not being able to see you and talk with you… Went surveying with Dan and crew this morning, it’s rather fun and takes time. Read and siesta after mongo bean lunch, coco laced with coconut milk –very good. Had a meeting of G.O. and S. Department tonight. I am to have charge of the safety and protection of all camp supplies. That will put me close to the kitchen and I want to get a job there anyway for chow. I feel my appetite increasing with the lack of cigarettes. I certainly had a helluva time tonight at meeting. I suppose I’ll say to hell with it and start smoking again any day now. On the other hand, maybe I’ll wait until I can fondle a Camel and better still an Old Gold with a sip of S and S…
Heard today that 4,000 internees to be barracked across the river behind the Hoop and 3,000 on this side. 25 buildings are allegedly partially completed on the other side, we can’t see them from here. I opened the sewing kit you fixed… The morale is high here, should have moved the camp here in the first place, now I hope they don’t have time. Barnes says you moved to first floor, that means you have Fran and a couple of children on your hands. Please tell me in your next note.
…Calhoun spoke over loudspeaker tonight, said news from Manila exceptionally good, etc. The news brought into Santo Tomás by some 70 reinternees is good, if we can believe what we hear. We have to remove hat and bow to sentries on point duty, there is one, sometimes 2 of them. But thing is to keep away from them. Fruit etc. is coming in great quantities…
…Not much exciting, rain late this afternoon –the mornings early have been beautiful. I weighed 71 kg. today so that’s almost a 9 lbs. gain since Saturday. I certainly was shot when I reached this place. Bill made coconut milk for breakfast and for him cocoa at noon. With coconuts 5 cents each, we figured it to be a good investment. Hope you receive some money before you come up, if so hang on to it. We’ll open no cans but live off the line and supplement with fruit, etc. Chow was good today, maybe it will be easier tomorrow…
About 2 PM, I’m sitting in front of cottage No. 2. M. Naismith just passed on his way to the Administration Office. I asked him if we were to go get the water by truck from Los Baños artesian wells today as promised (or almost) for drinking. He said it was all off, the captain of the guard will permit no one out to get it. We have the truck I guess, but what good is that? The boiled stuff we’re drinking is lousy. That Guard Captain will be increasingly popular as time goes on… Wonder if you’re still getting the Tribune, there was supposed to be a Sunday article on the new camp and interviews with Calhoun.Wish I had those cakes Dorothy Crabb baked –red ants, damn them, why didn’t you pack them in a tin can? The 12 nurses are now in the hospital, they’ve had a lot of trouble getting the use of that place. Dr. Leitch is finally there and in charge, although they’re removed some of the equipment, including the sterilizer. We certainly don’t rate very high in the scheme of things.
There was a ball game last night, I’m not much interested, haven’t recovered from the trip up. I weighed 67 kilos or 147.8 lbs. Saturday evening, the lowest I’ve been since about age 15. There is a serious question of water shortage and we’re just waiting. Yesterday morning M.P. called for 250 men to dig post holes for our barbed wire fence. There was nearly a sit-down strike and Naismith had quite a conference with the Commandant, who said the order was improper and assured us that further requests would come through his office in form of request for volunteers and there was nothing compulsory about it. Anyway I went along this morning because of a possible shortage, but 140 volunteered today so everything worked out OK –I worked with a couple of old codgers pulling concrete fence posts. Had a crew hair cut today, wonder if you’d like it, I think maybe. A gang of P.I. Constabulary just went by, maybe they’re our new guards? The canteen opened yesterday and we had coco milk in the morning mush. I’ve spent 95 cents since I left you and opened one can of milk. I think I’ll keep the cans, we may need them. I’m sure you’ll be here soon.
9:30 P.M. Small portion of chow tonight. Saw Lee and he has had head shaved. The future doesn’t look very bright –the guards won’t even permit the carts to bring the fruit. Canteen men have to go to the gate with a truck. Earl told me yesterday that “just between us friends it was a good thing to get away for a while.” I grunted.
Quezon busy writing a letter in his own hand to Osmeña in answer to a brief submitted to him by the latter. This is the opening gun in the contest between the two for the presidency of the Commonwealth after November 15, 1943. Quezon read me the salient points of Osmeña’s brief, all of which were citations as to the constitutionality of a government-in-exile. Quezon now points out that all of Osmeña’s authorities refer to formerly independent states now (or formerly) in enemy occupation; these examples are irrelevant, since the Philippine Commonwealth has never been an independent government and the issue now lies between the United States and Japan–so the whole subject is in the hands of President Roosevelt, and he alone can decide what part of the Commonwealth Government and of its constitution are in force today. This leaves little doubt that Quezon will remain as President of the Philippines even after his present term of two years, expiring December 31, 1943, has run out. This would bar Osmeña from enjoying the two years as President to which he was elected by the Philippine people, just before the invasion by the Japanese. Since Quezon is being privately advised by Justices Murphy and Frankfurter, there can be little doubt of the outcome. Opinion around headquarters is that Osmeña will not offer serious resistance.
The part of Osmeña’s offer to Quezon which aroused the latter’s indignation was the proposition that Quezon should continue to live in the magnificent suite in the Shoreham when Osmeña assumed the presidency, and that Quezon should become President of the Council of State, which as he points out was the same old suggestion made to me as Governor General in 1919, [sic] when Osmeña tried to persuade me to disassociate myself from the new Council of State under his own presidency–a proposal which I then rejected.
At all events, Quezon feels that Osmeña’s offer to him now is “insulting.” I have no idea of the contents of Quezon’s letter of reply and probably never shall know but I consider it now practically certain that Quezon will remain as President until at least the Philippines are reoccupied. I had previously told him I did not believe that Roosevelt would tolerate any other plan.
Whether this is politically wise for Quezon is another matter. As Trepp says he weakened his political future when he left Corregidor, and the present project that he shall hold the presidency of the Commonwealth for the two years for which Osmeña had been elected president by the Filipinos, while practically unavoidable, will weaken him still further with the people at home. Quien sabe?
Meanwhile the Japanese radio announcements of statements by leading Filipinos continue to unsettle Philippine headquarters in Washington–however, these are now considered either as downright Japanese lies, or else as statements made under duress. Collier ‘s, May 22, 1943, publishes a recent statement by George Vargas: “It becomes our pleasant duty to share the joy of liberated millions… victory for Japan is victory for the Philippines.” At the same time, the Japanese radio announced that Vargas’ son had been sent to Tokyo to the University–ostensibly for study, but we assume, as a hostage for his father’s “good behaviour.” Manuel Roxas is in his own home in Manila, under “protective custody.” Generals Lim and Capinpin have apparently issued statements that the Americans let them down in the Philippine war and they are in favour of the Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere. Both of these Generals are now at liberty.
There is evidently still a great deal of ill-feeling among those who surround Quezon (but not in his own mind) because of the failure of the United States to make any effort to relieve Corregidor, after all the abundant promises made to that end in the early stages of the invasion. Mrs. Bewley, who brought her daughter out just before the fall of Corregidor in an American Navy plane to Freemantle, Australia, is still bitter about the lack of effort made by the United States in the theatre of the Philippines. Her husband is a prisoner in Manila–or at Los Baños. Her plane was the only one of the three that got through. One was shot down over Corregidor and all on board lost; one fell in Lake Lanao and all were drowned. This was the end of what had frankly been considered a “suicide mission.”
Quezon took me out for a long drive. I tried to get his mind fixed on pleasant thoughts–got him to tell me of the making of Tagaytay ridge into a resort now by the new road only 40 minutes from Manila–the resort is at 2,500 feet altitude–plenty of water (and wind!).
At Malacañan he has cleaned out the slaughter house and dog pound across the Pasig River and all other “smelly things” on the swampy land opposite the Palace and has turned it all into a park–where I used to shoot snipe! He fears the Japanese will destroy Malacañan if they have to evacuate the Islands. So far they have done no damage there and have not even occupied the Palace.
Secretary Knox told him the Japanese could have taken Dutch Harbor if they had tried; now their occupation of Kiska and Attu really made no difference–we could get them out whenever we cared to try.
Quezon thinks Roosevelt tried to get us into the war immediately after the fall of France but that the American “isolationists” prevented this at that time; it was Pearl Harbor that was the immediate cause of our fighting.
The first group of internees left to prepare the new accommodations in Los Baños. This contingent was composed of 800 men of military age, who brought back discouraging information about the new site. They said that the climate was unhealthy, the place infested with malaria, and water scarce.
The High Command announced that the enemy nationals detained at the UST Compound would be transferred to Los Baños at the fringe of Laguna de Bay, as soon as the work on the camp and its buildings would be completed. The transfer was allegedly for humanitarian considerations, that is, to enable the prisoners to enjoy the pure and fresh air of the fields.
But man does not live by air alone. The breeze and the wind may be nourishment for the poets, and the landscape of the countryside may be nectar for the dreamer; but the wearied human being needs something more tangible and nourishing.
In the new site of the internees, there is not a single town with which they could communicate. Neither will they be able to continue having the things they usually receive from relatives and friends. The isolation will make of the place a penal colony, and a heavy atmosphere that would weigh upon the soul.
A crowded assembly room, with many standing, bore witness to the interest felt in the international peace question by the students of the University of the Philippines, where I spoke to-day. As on the preceding day, my address seemed to give great satisfaction to the faculty.
A ride to Los Banos yesterday was very interesting. The countryside is most picturesque. Town succeeds town in rapid succession. Quaint old churches, with the priests’ houses attached, and the municipal buildings, all sheltered by tropical foliage and surrounding the plazas in the center of these towns, constitute the central feature of interest to the hastening visitor. The homes of the well-to-do are of Spanish architecture, except where a modern type resulting from American occupation has crept in. The houses of the poor are of bamboo frames fastened with bamboo or rattan cords and covered with Nipa. They are exceedingly inflammable, and a friend has told me how, during a fire, she once saw 300 burned up in one hour. They are built on high posts, and beneath the first floors wagons can be stored and children play. Wide windows are opened during the day, and inside can be seen all the family furniture, and life, but at night these windows are closed, resulting in an appalling record throughout the country with respect to tuberculosis. Often a fanciful bamboo fence separates these simple homes from the roadway. Few flowers are seen. Yet even the most indigent have their ideas of decoration. In every coun-try of the world — so it seems to me — the people of all races feel like the French poet who said, “If I had but two sous in the world, with one I would buy bread, with the other a hyacinth, for the hyacinth would feed my soul.” This spirit is discerned throughout the poverty-stricken Orient.
At the Agricultural College at Alabang, we stopped for lunch. Every courtesy was extended to us, and when some of the young men found who I was, they pressed me to address them, promising an improvised company of over 300 listeners if I would talk on peace.
Around Manila the stranger is impressed with the school life of the Philippines. In the city some fine modern buildings devoted to education are most impressive as denoting the possibilities of the American Administration. Out in the country, old school buildings are filled with swarms of happy children who are acquiring a modern education such as their parents never dreamed of. Most of these children speak English. A definite standard of dress and manners is demanded of them. The most astonishing thing is their devotion to American games. Everywhere is that grand old game of baseball played. Even the girls play it. The effect upon the rising generation is marked in many ways. The physical size and mental power of the young people has perceptibly developed, according to statistics and measurements, within the past fifteen years. Baseball takes the place of cock-fights among the young. In driving around the country we often see men fondly holding roosters in their arms, and in groups, evidently discussing the prowess of their pets. You do not see boys preparing for the pastime. People hereabouts inform me that the cock-pits are now almost altogether patronized by the older men. I was told the other day that “even the old men who hold on to their roosters will go to watch a baseball game, and do not indulge in the cock-pit as they used to.” All this speaks loudly in praise of the American educational system.
Sometimes when driving through the country near sundown the villages are alive with little children arrayed in very abreviated costumes — often one garment extending down to their knees. It is enough in a climate where in winter you feel like sitting down whenever you can, and where, at noon-time, repose of several hours is fashionable. These little folks wave their small brown hands at us and in chorus call out “hello” in the purest American accent.