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 20, 1945, Monday

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

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

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

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

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


July 18, 1945 Wednesday

Life here is very monotonous. We see the same things and do the same things over and over again. We try to occupy our time, to entertain ourselves. We go to church every Sunday and pray the Rosary in a body in the evening. We have learned to do manual work such as sweeping and cleaning our premises. We have learned to sew, to wash clothes, to make our bed and to do other household odd jobs. We exercise regularly, and in my case, on Sundays when we are allowed to go to the town plaza for recreation, I play baseball. Every Monday, we are allowed to see moving picture shows, and in our quarters we hold programs to entertain ourselves composed of singing, boxing, poetry recitation, magic, etc.

Each of us has his special activity. Chief Yulo likes to meditate and brood over our situation. Speaker Paredes spends his time taking up matters with the prison officials as our spokesman, talking to the enlisted class, playing solitaire, reading, writing and entertaining himself with local girls who pity us so much that they try their best to console us. Recto has returned to his old love — writing poetry. He also reads extensively. He furnishes us with a lot of entertainment with his orations and amusing jokes. He also plays card games. Alunan takes it easy and spends his time reading and taking care of his health. Paez reads and plays “a holoy”. Zulueta has a carpentry shop and a kitchen. He spends a good portion of his time preparing a meal and eating it with gusto. Sabido enjoys making predictions which, unfortunately for us, never come true, ponders on economic problems, reads and plays a little card. Justice Bocobo reads and writes much and prays. Madrigal takes a lot of reducing exercises and is continually planning for the future development of our country. Sanvictores is the exercise booster and reads considerably. Luz entertains us with his jokes and interesting conversations. Gen. Francisco is suffering because of the injustice done to him and to forget, he reads constantly. Sebastian has the most diversified activities; he reads, writes, sings, exercises and plays cards. He has also been the most helpful to his companions. Abello reads much, and, as an experienced secretary and being the Benjamin, he is the jack-of-all-trades in the party, helping in everything. Sison keeps himself very busy by taking care of the beautification of our premises. He is also our spiritual head, conducting all our prayers. Bayan takes care of all engineering work and plays chess. His teeth are giving him a lot of worry. Lavides has no specific hobby; he likes to do whatever could be of help. Aquino watches over the games played by others, sometimes taking part himself and pondering on what this is all about. Urquico is pitied by all of us as he is always sick. The most interesting activity is that Paredes. Some young girls, in their eagerness to cheer us up, have been sending food and letters. Don Quintin takes pains answering their letters which are very entertaining, although devoid of all romantic expressions. We could see in them their deep sympathy for our unfortunate situation. They ask us to write in their autograph books. I wrote the following: “July 15, 1945. Unknown to you, but deep in his heart is engraved a sincere feeling of gratitude for the sympathy bestowed upon us who suffer terribly for having served our motherland.”

I recall those days during the luncheon meetings of the Ministers. Instead of discussing the specific tasks assigned by the Japanese, we would while away the time by sending notes to one another across the table. These notes expressed the nationalistic sentiments of each one of us. They were written in Spanish, Tagalog and English. I wish now that I had conserved these notes which could help very much in our defense. I liked the notes written by Claro M. Recto best. Recto would scribble a nationalistic poem in a matter of minutes, revealing what was in his heart and mind. I too scribbled a lot of notes and poems.

Inside the stockade there are now very few incidents. All are doing their best not to mar our reputation. There are some exceptions. Someone was placed in the isolation cell for one day for having stolen some clothes. Two men were placed in isolation for a week for having foolishly tried to escape. Another was almost similarly punished for defying an order to work. He was excused, however, as he showed that he really had hurt himself while working the previous day. He yelled at the Lieutenant, but one good trait of an American is that he does not hesitate to admit that he is wrong.


June 27, 1945 Wednesday

A Colonel, Assistant Chief of the U.S. Military Police, came and inspected us today. He stopped in front of me and asked me two questions. “Are you comfortable here?”, he asked. I somewhat hesitated before answering, “Yes, under the circumstances.” What I really meant was that in view of the fact that we were prisoners, and because of the lack of facilities, the comfort that we have is all that could possibly be given. But we are not satisfied. Evidently, the Colonel understood me as he repeated “under the circumstances.” His next question was, “How is the food?” I answered, “It is sufficient in quantity, but it is not the kind of food we want. We prefer not to eat canned foods. What we want are fresh fish, meat and vegetables. We also would like to have rice. This is the kind of meal we eat as Filipinos.” He then turned to our Colonel Superintendent and asked him how they could be obtained. He even talked about fishing. Turning to me again, he said that rice is pretty hard to obtain; there is a scarcity of rice even in Manila and it costs very much. When he passed by Paredes and he was told that Paredes was our spokesman, he asked Paredes to see him. Jokingly he added, “not by motor car.” Paredes went to see him at 2 o’clock and returned after two hours. He immediately gathered us together to make a report.

Paredes said the Colonel talked to him about giving us better food, allowing us to bring food in, allowing us to have our laundry done outside the camp, etc. The Colonel said that he came precisely to investigate our living conditions and he will see what can be done. When asked about our petition to MacArthur, he said that it passed through him and he passed it on to the General Staff. Whether it reached MacArthur or not, he did not know.

Paredes then talked about our case. He explained that we had not been sentenced nor have we been informed of the charges against us. We believe that we have not done anything to deserve imprisonment. He mentioned some specific cases, like Bayan who is merely a technical man; that of Yulo, who supported two guerillas and gave information to the U.S. Army about what he saw in Manchoukuo which had been used by the U.S. Army to its advantage. Paredes asked that we be released; if that was not possible, that we be brought back to Manila and given limited freedom; and if this was still not acceptable, that our conditions here be improved. Here we are worse off than the criminals with long term sentences as they are allowed to go around the Colony, while we have to remain inside the stockade.

The Colonel said that he fully sympathized with us, but it was not within his power to grant our request. But he believes something will be done soon since Congress seems to be very interested in us. He reported that one day the House was discussing the matter of the collaborationists issue and the discussion became so heated that the public was excluded and the doors closed. The Colonel said that the C.I.C. was supposed to have investigated us, and after sentencing we were turned over to the Military Police. Paredes reiterated that none of us had been duly investigated and, consequently, we could not have been sentenced. The Colonel then said that probably the reason was that we were merely under protective custody to save us from persons who might want to kill us. Paredes said that he would be willing to bet that anyone of the officer class here could travel from one end of the Philippines to the other without being molested. Paredes said that they probably are not aware that in placing us under protective custody we are really being punished. When we are left “incommunicado”, we are punished; when we are separated from the family, we are punished; and when we are made to eat food that we are not used to eating, we are punished.

The Colonel said that the Military Police did not know anything about the merits of our cases; that MacArthur ordered that after action by the C.I.C, we be turned over to the Military Police; that they were given 48 hours by MacArthur within which to take us to Iwahig. This is probably the reason why we were shipped in a freighter where we were herded in a dark and hot hold like cattle. He added that the order is to hold us for the duration of the war.

Discussion ensued as to when the war with Japan, this being the war referred to by the Colonel, would last. The visiting Colonel asserted that it would take about eighteen months, whereas our Colonel here in the camp insists that the war would last only three months. Paredes said that with the way the American Army is fighting and with the bombing of Japan by super-fortresses, the war with Japan could not possibly last much longer.

Paredes and Gen. Francisco who also had a conference with the Colonel, got the impression that everything had been done in accordance with orders from Gen. MacArthur. In connection with our request for transfer to Manila, Paredes suggested that we could be confined in our respective homes, or in another place like the house or “hacienda” of Don Vicente Madrigal in Muntinglupa, or the house of Mr. Bayan in Quezon City. The Colonel took note of the suggestions of Paredes. Chief Yulo, after the report, again expressed his indignation and strongly criticized MacArthur.

A few days ago, all the members of the officer class were transferred to a part of one of the buildings. We are now separated from the enlisted class by a wall made of nipa. But we are in the same compound; we are now very crowded. However, there is no doubt that things have improved. The new administration seems to do everything for us. The Superintendent is Lt. Col. Gilfilan, while the assistant is Lt. Stanley F. Hogenberg, Jr. They are both very kind and considerate and take personal interest in us. The Lieutenant saw to it that we were provided with clothes and shoes. He gave us boxing gloves and other athletic equipment, and dominoes and other paraphernalia for our amusement. He provided instructions for the illiterate prisoners in the camp. Once he asked a young boy whether he went to church. He distributed Catholic books and sacred medals.

The enlisted class was required to work either in cleaning the premises or in preparing the new camp to which we will be transferred. This camp will not be finished until after three months. Sometimes men complain of the treatment accorded to them by the Captain in charge of the construction, compelling them to work even during a rain storm.

Don Vicente Madrigal receives newspapers which we read. Among the news is that Confesor was bitterly attacked in the floor of the House. Representative Borja of Iloilo said that if Confesor had not left for the mountains, he would have been killed for the many abuses he had committed, especially the taking of private property. Rep Rafols also hurled charges against Confesor. Both called him names. The language used must have been terrible as they were ordered stricken off the record. Confesor should resign or ask for an investigation. He should clear himself or leave the service. If the charges are true, his usefulness to the government is over since the people will lose their respect. A government with such officials will be crippled.

The other news is that there seems to be a strong movement to settle the dispute of Roxas and Osmeña for candidacy for President. It was reported that Osmeña may choose not to run if such sacrifice is necessary to effect unity. It is said that Osmeña had done it in the past and he will be willing to do it again. Roxas was expected to do the same. There was an editorial in which the withdrawal of either of them was advocated for the sake of unity. As a precedent, it cited the withdrawal of Rizal in favor of Del Pilar in Madrid; the elimination of Bonifacio and of General Luna; the conciliation of Quezon and Osmeña after the “Collectivitas-Unipersonalistas” fight and the Hare-Hawes-Cutting Bill fight. There was a suggestion for Osmeña to run for President and Roxas for Vice President. The fight seems to be inevitable, but efforts to settle matters should be continued to insure unity for the good of the country.

It is reported that Senators Sa Ramain and Rama had also been detained apparently for being collaborationists, but later released for the purpose of attaining a quorum during the Senate session. I do not know what Rama did; as regards sa Ramain, he had committed acts, such as signing the Constitution, for which others have been arrested and are now suffering imprisonment. Why the discrimination?

There are Senators-elect appointed during the Commonwealth Government who, under the Constitution, forfeited their right to a seat in the Senate for accepting other positions in the government. These are Domingo Imperial, who accepted the position of Justice, Court of Appeals; Roxas, who accepted the position of Colonel and afterwards became General in the Army; Sebastian, who accepted the position of Judge of the Court of First Instance; and Tirona, who accepted the position of Judge of the Court of Industrial Relations. If the four above are eliminated there can be no quorum in the present session of Congress. Already there are reports that the legality of the present Congress or the present session of Congress is being doubted. A lawyer has submitted a memorandum raising that question and Rep. Montejo of Leyte wants the question submitted for legal opinion. If the law is to be strictly adhered to, this question must be determined.

Rumor circulated that the Congress has passed a resolution requesting that we be turned over to the Commonwealth Government before July 15, 1945. An employee in the office of the Colonel happened to glance at a newspaper and he transmitted the news to a colonist, one Mr. Lopez, who came running to our quarters to tell us the news. We hope this will be confirmed. It means that our friends in Manila have not forsaken us. The general belief is that Congress must have some sort of understanding with Pres. Osmeña and Gen. MacArthur, and that after we have been turned over to the Commonwealth, we will be released. Discussion arose as to why the 15th of July was mentioned. One said that the purpose is to prevent us from sitting in the Senate since Congress adjourns on or about the, 15th of July. Another said that they want us to be out before the 15th to enable us precisely to attend the session. Chief Yulo doubts whether Gen. MacArthur would do anything. Furthermore, he opines we cannot be released during the duration of the war in view of the U.S. President’s order, and if MacArthur releases us or turns us over to the Commonwealth, it will have to be declared that a mistake in considering us collaborationist had been committed. MacArthur will not reverse himself or admit he was mistaken. Paredes thinks that the C.I.C. may declare us not guilty, in which case we can be released as we will not come under the presidential order.


June 22, 1945 Friday

Hope for our release is just like a stock market; it goes up and down. One day everybody appears happy; the next day, disappointment and deep sorrow reign. Today we are all in high spirits for a reason which I shall now explain.

The urgent need for a separate toilet for the officer class has been felt for some time. Plans were drafted by Engineers Paez and Bayan. Construction was commenced a few days ago under the direction of the two engineers and the supervision of Don Teofilo Sison. This morning, while Mr. Bayan was on his job, the Colonel-Superintendent came although it is not inspection day. This Superintendent, unlike his predecessor, comes quite frequently. Engineer Bayan since his arrival had been having trouble with his teeth. He had consulted Army dentists who believed that all his remaining teeth should be pulled out and a complete set of false teeth be made. Evidently, the Colonel was told about it and he probably remembered it. The Colonel urged Mr. Bayan to have his teeth work done. Mr. Bayan answered that he would prefer to have it done in Manila as it would be very inconvenient for him. He explained that if all his teeth were pulled out, he would need a special diet. In Manila, in his own home, his family could prepare his special food. The Colonel answered that such special food could not be provided by them, but he would make arrangements whereby he would be served before everybody else. Engineer Bayan made the following remarks evidently in order to reinforce his refusal to have his dental work done here: “I expect to be released soon”. Mr. Bayan was probably not aware that he released a trial-balloon to find out something about our possible release. The Colonel spontaneously stated: “The probability is 90% that you will be released without trouble as the government is very interested in you. That is the way I look at it.” Adding, “So you are going to wait.” “Yes”, answered Mr. Bayan.

Those who heard this exchange lost no time communicating to others the good tydings. Senator Sebastian ran inside our barracks to tell us the conversation he heard. Naturally, we all became very anxious and listened very attentively to the narration of the Senator. Not contented with secondhand news, Mr. Bayan was shoved into the midst of the happy crowd and made to repeat the conversation. He was cautioned to use the exact words of the Colonel. Mr. Bayan was very accommodating. He kept repeating the conversation every time a new listener came around, notwithstanding his difficulty in talking on account of the condition of his teeth.

There was general rejoicing in the quarters of the officer class. The rejoicing soon spread to the quarters of the enlisted class. The whole morning the conversation was the topic of vivid comments. There were different versions as to the application of the ninety per cent. Senator Sebastian who heard the conversation gave his version as follows: “Ninety per cent will be released.” Recto concurred with this version, adding that the ten per cent referred to Mr. Bayan who will have to remain so that work on his teeth could be finished. The new version did not in any way dampen the enthusiasm as everybody expects not to be included in the ten per cent. The enthusiasm was such that the “bread and water” ration given us at the mess was devoured in no time. In his bewilderment, Mr. Bayan approached the ration table more than once. Don Quintin Paredes became a disciple of Dr. Samari, predicting that comments will continue for two days.

The expression “without trouble” has been interpreted by some to mean that there will not be any formal inquiry. Others believe that he meant that our cases are meritorious ones.

No news referring to us has provoked as much enthusiasm as this one. It is pointed out that the Colonel is in a position to know and he must have based his statements on some tangible facts. He could not have referred to the interest of the government unless he knows it positively.

God bless the Colonel. He certainly has revived our fading hope.

Sensational news are reported in the newspapers we have just received.

The first is to the effect that Representative Emilio de la Paz of Rizal, who was defeated by Representative Jose Zulueta of Iloilo for the Speakership, hurled charges that his defeat meant that there were still vestiges of Japanese influence in Congress. When informed that the Committee on Internal Affairs of the House of Representatives would require him to substantiate his charges, he stated that he is prepared to prove them. Many interpret the act of de la Paz as one of spite because of his defeat. I am willing, however, to grant him the benefit of a doubt. I credit him with sincerity and courage to denounce what he thinks is an evil or inconsistency in the acts of our public officials. As a matter of fact, if the acts attributed to many of us in this prison constitute collaboration, there are many members of Congress who are collaborators. I think I have already named somewhere in these writings some Senators guilty of the same acts for which we have been detained. In the House there are many who took active part in the pacification campaign. Some of them have amassed fortunes for activities during the Japanese regime. One was connected with a business providing lumber to the Japanese. A probe will perhaps disclose facts which may be the basis for the charges of Representative de la Paz.

The second news is to the effect that Cabili had accused President Roxas of the Senate of having sent him a form letter urging him to surrender to the Japanese. On the surface, the charge seems to be serious, if true. I do not know the facts, but there may be a satisfactory explanation for this. The date when the letter was written is very pertinent. Roxas after his appointment as Brigidier General, was placed in charge of the military operations in Mindanao. He was the head in that Island. When Corregidor was occupied by the Japanese, Gen. Homma declined to accept the surrender of Wainright and his men unless Wainright surrendered the rest of the USAFFE in the Philippines, being the Commanding General with jurisdiction over the whole Philippines after the departure of Gen. MacArthur. By radio and letters, Wainright communicated this condition for surrender set by Gen. Homma to all the District Commanders in the Philippines ordering them to surrender. Brigadier General Roxas probably only transmitted the order of Gen. Wainright. Roxas will undoubtedly clear up the situation.

Col. Peralta, the patriot and guerrilla hero of Panay, whose exploits won for him one of the highest decorations given to military men, wrote a letter to Pres. Osmeña, urging the latter to follow a moderate policy on the collaborationist problem for the sake of unity. I already had a high opinion of Col. Peralta. With his letter, my admiration for him has heightened even more. His motive for recommending such a policy is sublime and highly patriotic. It shows his intense love for his country. In war time, he had risked his life so that the liberty for which our forefathers had shed their precious blood, could be attained and preserved. Now in peace time, he urges unity as disunion at this crucial period in our history may cause us to lose whatever liberties we may have already won and even endanger the independence of our country which is already assured. I think much more will be heard of Col. Peralta. He will some day be in a position of great responsibility in our country. I have never seen him. It shall be a pleasure and an honor to meet him.

Dr. Moncado brought news substantially confirming the statement of the Colonel. I am still pessimistic.


June 8, 1945 Friday

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


May 24, 1945 Thursday

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

* * * * *

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


May 12, 1945 Saturday

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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.