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 22, 1945 Tuesday

Poetry seems to be contagious for today two poems were submitted, one by Minister Quintin Paredes and the other by Governor Sergio Aquino. Copies of each poem are attached hereto. Everybody was surprised about Don Quintin who was well known as a statesman and jurist, but nobody was aware of his talent to write poetry. Aquino was known as a poet. He evidently abandoned poetry to embrace the cause of our country and to serve our people. He became Fiscal and later Governor of Tarlac. His executive ability earned him a promotion to Governor of a district composed of the provinces of Pangasinan, Tarlac, Pampanga, Nueva Ecija, Zambales and Bataan. His poetry shows that he must have been a good poet.

We read in a local bulletin that Osmeña was coming home—back to the Philippines. Accompanying him were the members of two Committees—one composed of Senators and Representatives who are members of the Committees in the U.S. Congress having jurisdiction over the Philippines, including the Chairman of the Senate Committee, Senator Milliard Tydings; the other, a technical committee composed of military men (Army and Navy), and economists. The purpose for the visit of these Committees is not stated. But we fear that a survey will be made by both Committees which may later be used to justify the postponement of independence or the retention of the Philippines as a U.S. colony. Our only consolation is that before we left Manila at the end of April, we read a statement from Osmeña to the effect that independence is a settled issue; in other words, independence will come on July 4, 1946 or sooner. There was an insinuation that the date would be accelerated. But of course the Committee may report that the destruction of the Philippines is such that rehabilitation will constitute a serious problem, and that in order for America to help or to want to help, independence must be postponed. They may even report that it is the wish of the Filipino people to postpone independence.

Already it is rumored that there are agents of imperialism in the U.S. Army and Navy, in the C.I.C., who would attempt to influence us so that we ourselves would petition for the postponement or at least express sentiments in favor of such postponement. There are reasons to believe this rumor. It should be remembered that when we were in the headquarters of the Army operating around Baguio, Colonel Arsey, who seemed to be a member of the General Staff, asked us what we thought of independence. When we answered that we did not want it postponed, he seemed surprised and stated that he had talked to hundreds of Filipinos and 95% of them were for postponement. Similar questions I understand are being asked by some members of the C.I.C. This work of the Imperialists for retention is reported to have the backing of influential Filipinos, like Mr. Carlos Romulo.

Personally, I believe that the Filipino people will vote against retention. No amount of money and influence will swing them from their determination. If the vote in a plebiscite is adverse, fraud must have been exercised. But of course I may be wrong. It is feared that the Congress of the U.S. will revoke or modify the Tydings-McDuffie Act without consulting the Filipino people. We all understand of course that once independence is postponed we will never get our independence or at least its attainment would be attended by great difficulties. But I am sure of one thing: that until independence is actually attained, the agitation for it will never stop. Already Taruc and Alejandrino have organized their United Front, one of the purposes of which is to fight any person, group or party, whether Americans or Filipinos, who will want independence denied or postponed. As events are developing, there may be formed two parties in the Philippines with a clear cut issue on independence—one will be against and in favor of American domination, and the other in favor of immediate and absolute independence. The cleavage may cut along social lines: rich men who believe that only America could protect and preserve their wealth, will line up on one side; and those who sincerely believe that it is the destiny of all peoples to constitute themselves into independent nations, and those who believe that the Philippines by right should be free and independent, will line up on the opposite side. Those against independence may win in the first elections. But each defeat will only encourage those for independence to work harder, and in the long run they will win for their cause is just, right and patriotic. The retentionists will meet the same fate as the “Federal” and “Progressive” parties in the Philippines. The cause of Philippine independence will triumph in the end.

Such a fight will of course be prejudicial and injurious to the Philippines and the Filipinos. We have to admit that there was stagnation in the economic development of our country, due not only to the economic policies of America which favored only the Americans, but also to the fact that the Filipino leaders devoted their whole time to the political issue of independence, thus neglecting to prepare a comprehensive economic program for the development of the Philippines.

The American committees, however, may not consider any political issue. As the Philippines has shown loyalty to America and the Filipinos have not only sacrificed their homes and property but even their lives side by side with the U.S. forces, America may wish to help in the rehabilitation of the Philippines. The Committees may want to have first hand knowledge of the economic problems in order that they may be in a better position to assist the Philippines. In that case, we should be very thankful and very grateful.

My conversations within the compound have not been limited to the so-called big shots. I have also talked to the lowliest of us here in the colony. Some of them cannot even read nor write. I came across three men—Catalino Capasi, Almadover and Caramay—who all hail from the town of Sta. Rosa, Laguna, where I have many friends. They said that they were arrested, charged with being “Sakdal” or “Kapili”. They swore that they had never joined any of these organizations. One of them, Caramay, says that he was a “cochero” (rig driver), and it is possible that Sakdals and Kapilis had used his vehicle. They said that Sakdals and the Kapilis left with the Japanese. But one common feature during their interrogation was that they were compelled by the Americans to admit their guilt. They were beaten up by their American interrogators, slapped and boxed whenever they denied their guilt. At first, I just could not believe it. But they insisted that they were telling the truth and I am now inclined to believe them. But they also know of many cases where the arrested or suspected persons were threatened with bodily harm, but no actual force was used; where they were promised release or immunity if they would admit their guilt or sign affidavits against other persons. In other words, all means short of the use of force were employed in order to obtain a confession or admission on the part of the arrested person. Governors Aquino and Urquico told us that no such cases were reported to them. As a matter of fact, they were glad that they fell into the hands of the Americans because other suspects who were taken by the guerrillas—a good many of them—were put to death. According to the two Governors, a woman was burnt to death in the public plaza. I am just wondering whether cruelty is an Oriental trait. The Japanese have shown themselves to be unnecessarily cruel. The Chinese are also known for their cruelty. Are we Filipinos the same?

Although receiving gifts from the outside is prohibited unless the gifts go through the office, they continue to come. Gifts of food are not given to the addressee but divided among all of us. Many donors are anonymous. A Mr. V. Macasaet has sent me many things but I do not remember him nor do I know why he gives me anything. Do we really need the protective custody?

We were given a ration of shoes and clothing which are all second hand, having already been used by the American soldiers. With the exception of the shoes and underwear, we do not wear them. It is because they are all marked “X”. Why they are thus marked we do not know. The “X” probably serves to indicate that the articles now belong to the prisoners. We are not required to wear them. So, I have been wearing the clothes donated by charitable persons.

We try to make our lives less monotonous if possible. We want to forget our situation so that we would not be worrying too much and we would not continue expressing our indignation. Chief Justice Yulo does not seem to be able to do this. Instead of gaining like the rest of us, he is the only one who has lost weight. How do we pass the time then? We wake up early and immediately prepare for the outdoor group calisthenics. This lasts from ten to twenty minutes, and is obligatory. The exercises are quite scientifically prepared, involving all parts of the body. It is amusing to see overweight people, like Mr. Madrigal, perform the difficult movements in our exercises. After exercises, we proceed to the mess hall for breakfast. After breakfast, those of us detailed for the day’s work, clean the compound. When not on duty, I spend my time reading and writing. At noon, after lunch, we take a little nap. Afterwards, we either play a little poker or I continue reading and writing. Suppertime is early—as early as five o’clock. After supper we engage in personal conversations.

The most interesting part of the day is after 8 o’clock in the evening. A musical program is staged every night. We certainly have elements for the program. One of them, a Mr. Sotto, son of Don Vicente Sotto, is a very good singer. There are many other good singers. Then there is dancing choreographed by Dr. Hilario C. Moncado. The program is very amusing and we enjoy ourselves very much. Some of the American guards—the good ones, especially one by the name of Johnny—also take part in the program. A half past nine, the program ends and we then go to bed. I never forget to pray before going to bed. I pray to God to give health and comfort to my family. I pray for the salvation of our people.

We never miss hearing Mass on Sundays.


May 19, 1945 Saturday

The whole premises were cleaned thoroughly in preparation for the expected coming of Gen. MacArthur tomorrow, Sunday the 20th.

I had a long conversation with Don Vicente Madrigal. Two of the matters he touched upon I would like to record. The first was an incident involving himself and Confesor. While in Quezon City, he said that as President of the Philippine Chamber of Commerce, he went to see Sec. Confessor about matters involving the Philippine Chamber of Commerce. Confesor refused to receive him on the ground that he did not want to see or have anything to do with persons who collaborated with the Japanese.

Don Vicente said that it really happened this way. A meeting was called in Malacañan to discuss matters in which the Chamber was interested in. He arrived late, and as he was going up the stairs, he met Don Leopoldo Aguinaldo who was just leaving. Don Leopoldo, a director of the Chamber, was another big merchant and a good friend of the Japanese. Madrigal asked him why he was leaving. He answered that Confesor, before the meeting, stated that he will not sit in any place where there are collaborators, referring to Don Leopoldo. Don Leopoldo thought at first that Confesor meant it as a joke, but was told otherwise. When Madrigal heard what had happened to Aguinaldo, he naturally did not proceed to the meeting anymore. Aguinaldo sent a letter to Confesor asking in what way he had collaborated with the Japanese. Confesor did not reply.

Another incident involving Confesor was told to us. A former subordinate of Confesor, former Director Balmaceda, went to pay his respects to Confesor. Upon seeing Balmaceda, Confesor became very angry and insulted him for being a collaborator. He told Balmaceda that he had the nerve to show his face to him and that he ought to be ashamed of himself. This incident was confimed by Don Vicente.

These incidents lead us to believe that Confesor, as Secretary of the Interior, has something to do with our detention. It is part of his policy of persecution of alleged collaborators. I do not believe the people will approve of the attitude of Confesor. At any rate, it is highly prejudicial to the interest and future of our country. Now and after the war, our problems will be very serious. There is the work of reconstruction of our devastated cities and towns. There is the problem of rehabilitation. Food must be provided and our industry, commerce and agriculture be restored. The economic development of our country must be started and pushed with vigor, our currency made stable. These problems are so great that the cooperation and energy of all the Filipinos will be needed. The policy of Confesor will divide us and thus the concerted effort of all the Filipinos to solve said problems cannot be assured.

Don Vicente Madrigal talked also of Gen. Carlos P. Romulo. He said that Romulo is even rougher and more uncompromising than Confesor and Secretary Cabili. One day he saw copies of the Philippines Herald being sold in the streets. He learned that the newspaper’s daily publication started a week before. Romulo appears as Chief Editor. Don Vicente sent word to Romulo stating that he was glad that the Philippines Herald was already being published. It must be remembered that Don Vicente is practically the owner of the Philippines Herald as he owns the majority of the stocks. Romulo offered his regrets and apology to Don Vicente for not having informed him. Romulo added that the publication of the Herald would have to be suspended as Gen. MacArthur did not want any of the old newspapers to begin publication. Later the Free Philippines began its publication.

When Romulo arrived from the U.S., he did not visit Madrigal nor offer any help to him. Madrigal considers Romulo the most ungrateful man he has ever known. He bought the Herald upon the entreaty of Romulo who did not want the Herald to fall into the hands of the Roceses. He made Romulo the Editor. Romulo wanted to go to Chunking and other places in the Orient to be able to write on the conditions in those places. He had no money, however. Don Vicente granted him an unlimited credit that allowed Romulo to visit many places in the Orient and write a series of articles. These made him very famous in the literary world. The articles earned him the Pulitzer Prize, which also brought in some cash. After all he has done for Romulo, as Mr. Madrigal puts it, Romulo’s attitude of indifference towards him was the height of ingratitude.

On account of the expected visit of MacArthur, we decided to prepare a memorandum. We thought of doing this long before we knew that MacArthur’s visit. The memorandum was drafted by a Committee composed of Yulo, Recto and Paredes. It was later submitted to a general meeting, where we discussed it freely and each made suggestions.


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.


May 10, 1945 Thursday

Everything was routine up to today. The classification had not yet arrived. An insinuation was made that we would be classified as officers and that we would be put together in one wing of one of the buildings in the same premises.

Upon the request of Paredes and myself a meeting was held this evening around the bed of Chief Justice Yulo. All the 14 men originally confined in Quezon City were present. Paredes suggested that we send a memorandum to President Osmeña and Gen. MacArthur explaining our case and protestations against our detention. I seconded him. He explained that our silence might be considered conformity or acquiescence to our situation. We have not been given an opportunity to defend ourselves. In fact, we were not even notified of the charges against us. The memoranda submitted to Mr. Stanford in Quezon City were unofficial according to him. Besides, they were not answers to specific charges. Furthermore, at about the time we submitted our memos we were turned over to the Army and the C.I.C. ceased to have jurisdiction over us.

I also think that we should ask for a clarification of Gen. MacArthur’s statement that we would be held during the duration of the war as a matter of war security. Does it mean that we constitute a menace to the war effort? If so, we would be willing to show that we do not. Some Ministers opposed the submission of any memorandum on the ground that it is unnecessary and might even be prejudicial. It was decided to draft the memorandum and decide what to do later. A committee for the purpose was appointed composed of Chief Justice Yulo, as Chairman and Messrs. Recto and Paredes, as members. Messrs. Abello and Sebastian were designated as assistants.


May 3, 1945 Thursday

Americans on board are going crazy over souvenirs of ₱5000 Japanese bills with our signature.

We were told to get ready. We did not actually leave the boat until about 3 p.m. We were loaded in three amphibian boats. After an hour sailing on a river, we reached the Colony. The boat went up the bank and functioned like a truck. It certainly is a wonderful invention. We saw amphibians for the first time along the road from Tubao to Manila and I was glad I had the experience of embarking in it. It is a real boat when on water and a real truck when on land.

We reached Iwahig at about half past four. We were taken to a stockade less than 100 meters long and about 80 meters wide. We were divided into three groups for the three “Camarines”. The “Camarines” are big enough for our number. The list of prisoners included high officials of the Commonwealth government, prominent citizens, businessmen, Hukbalahaps, Makapilis, and those accused of murder and other atrocities.

Upon our arrival, Col. Forbes who escorted us on board the Lewis Morris ordered us to line up. He made a few remarks which substantially were as follows: “I have been designated to be your head custodian in the representation of the United States Government and of the Philippine Government. It is a painful duty, a task which I would have preferred not to have. I want to make your position clear. You are not here as criminals or convicts. Your status shall be that of a war prisoner under the Geneva Convention. I hope you will not try to escape. If anybody outside talks to you, ignore them. Until I receive instructions you shall all be treated equally. If you want anything or desire to say anything you shall communicate with me.”

In that talk there is an insinuation that we are being held to protect our lives. Such a protection may be necessary for those in the service of the Japanese who had killed or committed abuses. It may be necessary for those who had been spies. But certainly we do not need such protection as our lives are not in danger. Our people perfectly understand that our purpose was only to protect them and to serve them.

Col. Forbes then asked whether anybody wanted to say something. Mr. de la Rama mentioned Minister Quintin Paredes as one who might want to speak. Mr. Paredes declined to say anything.

Afterwards, we selected our respective places. I selected building No. 2. We occupied a corner—Minister Jose Paez, Gen. Francisco, Vice Minister Sergio Bayan and Gov. Sebastian, and myself.

We took our meals in our quarters until May 5, when we were asked to move to the mess hall nearby. At the beginning we all refused to go. Mr. Paredes and I vehemently protested on the ground that it was too much humiliation. I said that I preferred not to eat. Mr. Paredes began shouting at the Sergeant who had asked us to go. Later a meeting was held and cooler heads suggested that the Sergeant could do nothing as he was merely complying with the order of his superior. Since the Colonel was away, we better obey in the meanwhile. We then marched to the mess hall located near the plaza about 200 meters away. It was also built like the “Camarines” but the walls are much higher. The kitchen before which we lined up to get our ration, was just in front of the mess hall. We found the place really better. At least the jostling to get the food stopped and it was easier to keep our quarters clean.

We saw the necessity of organizing especially in order to have and enforce rules on sanitation. A council was selected and Chief Justice Yulo was elected Chairman. Committees were created, among which were that of Peace and Order, and Sanitation to which Mr. Paredes and Mr. Bayan were appointed, respectively. All seem to understand the necessity of keeping perfect peace and no one showed any opposition. The Sanitation Committee, however, had its hands full. Cleanliness was not observed by some especially in the toilets. Cigarettes and used matches were thrown everywhere. Bayan was so desperate that he wanted to resign. Paredes threatened to turn over the enforcement of the rules to the Army. The position of Liaison Officer to discuss matters with Col. Forbes and his assistant, Lt. Severance, was created. Jose Sanvictores was designated for this position.


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.


November 5, 1943

President Laurel again flew to Tokyo, this time accompanied by Ministers Recto and Paredes, to attend the East Asian Congress of all independent nations of the Sphere. The Congress was to draft a manifesto, a sort of Pacific Charter, synthesized in five points which, like mathematics, lacked being and extension, and repeated ad societatem the abused topic of Asianism, collaboration, millions of Asians, orientalism, Anglo-American tyranny, etc.


April 30, 1942

Submitted to Mrs. Escoda the following list embodying the urgent needs of war prisoners in accordance with wishes expressed by officers and men now in Capaz.

I. FOOD

A. Organization: N.F.W.C., Girl’s Scouts, etc.

B. Necessary items: 1, rice; 2. mongo; 3. salt; 4. sugar, panocha; 5. camote, cassava, gabi; 6. lime, calamansi; 7. galletas, biscuits; 8. bananas, papaya, mangoes, guavas—any kind of fruit in season; 9. coffee, tea, ginger; 10. milk; 11. salted eggs.

II. MEDICAL SUPPLIES

A. Organization: Department of Health

B. Necessary items: 1. quinine, iodine, mercurochrome; 4. disinfectants (kreso, lysol, bichloride); 5. alcohol; 6. muslin for bandages; 7. tape; 8. cotton or kapok; 9. sulfathiazol.

III. CLOTHING

A. Organization: Women’s Committee

B. Necessary items; 1. undershirts, shirts, shorts, sweaters, socks; 2. blankets; 3. shoes, slippers; 4. towels.

IV. FINANCE

1. Personal solicitation. 2. Contribution in kind.

V. TRANSPORTATION

A men’s committee to take charge of arrangements for trucks, jitneys, etc., to transport personnel and supplies.

VI. UTENSILS

1. Cooking; 2. forks, knives, spoons, pans, bottles; 3. pitchers, basins; 4. rake, shovel, pick, brooms; 5. empty cans for glasses; 6. tissue paper; 7. empty gasoline cans for water and water wagons.

VII. DISTRIBUTION

1. Bureau of Health; 2. Women’s committee. 

VIII. FIELD WORKERS

Field workers operating under groups in charge of distribution are to be limited to Bureau of Health doctors, nurses, social workers There must be a strong, aggressive, efficient leader.

IX. GENERAL SUPPLIES

1. fuel; 2. cigarettes; 3. matches

The chief consideration is time. Relief must reach the camps with as little loss of time possible if more deaths are to be averted. Average deaths per day according to more accurate reports are over five hundred.

The Japanese are still very strict. They do not permit visitors. They prohibit relatives from sending food and medicine to the captives.

There is a rumor that one of the staff officers of the Japanese Army called Gen. Homma’s attention to the inhuman treatment accorded Filipino and American war prisoners. Gen. Homma was said to have answered: “Let them die, to atone for the thousands among us that also died.”

Today’s Tribune shows pictures of Recto, Yulo and Paredes drinking a toast with Japanese staff officers in a Malacañan reception.

Teofilo Yldefonso, world-famous breaststroker, several years Far Eastern Olympics’ record holder, died in Capaz. He was wounded in Bataan. In the concentration camp, gangrene developed in his wounds. No medicine could get to him. He died in a lonely nipa shed.

Today’s Tribune carriers a front-page item in bold type entitled “Correction” which gives an idea of Japanese mentality. The story follows:

“In yesterday’s editorial we made a mistake using the words ‘His Imperial Highness’ instead of ‘His Imperial Majestry.’ We hereby express our sincere regret about the matter.”

The Japanese soldier is not merely fired with patriotism. He is also inspired by a religious motive. The Emperor is his god.

Philip’s intimate friend, Johnnie Ladaw, was reported killed in Bataan, two hours after surrender. He was machine-gunned by a tank. Johnnie was No. 3 national ranking [tennis] player. He defeated Frank Kovacs of the U.S. at the Rizal court several months before the war.

When I look at our tennis court, I seem to see him. He was always smiling. Maybe he died smiling…