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.

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.