While I have the energy I want to record yesterday’s doings—a most momentous day. We cleared up the cocktail lounge, took out all the broken bottles, etc., from the wholesale breaking up of my liquor stock by order of the American Committee. Wish I had it now. I am getting a terrific collection of belongings to keep for people until they are released. I foresee many headaches because of this, but I can’t refuse to help.
After cleaning up the house, I started out on Mary’s case. Fred seems to think she had better stay out of camp as long as possible because of her condition. She is really sick and it is difficult for her to move about easily. She is quite heavy and is just recovering from a severe heart illness. I cannot bear to think of her standing in line in the camp for food, for the bath, and all that. I asked a Swiss employee of her husband’s company to go with me to see what I could do. I had a medical certificate from her family physician, now interned, and a young Japanese had translated it for me into Japanese. I went to several places trying to get her registered without her going personally. Finally I went to Santo Tomas and I talked myself into camp to see the authorities. I found Fred, and it was so wonderful to see him and Hi and Kenneth and talk with them without screaming through the fence at them, as we have been doing this past week. I stated the case to the Japanese in charge of the office, made out the proper forms and, finally, got her a release to my custody. So she seems relatively safe for the moment. She has been so good to me over a long period of years that I am glad I can help a little now, for I fear camp would finish her.
I spent the morning in camp. Saw many of my friends. Poor Marge was sick with a cold, lying on the floor on an air mattress, looking most miserable. The Japs had put the internees in the college classrooms, forty to sixty in a room; cots, mattresses on the floor, luggage, mosquito nets, all jammed in together with a very few inches allotted to each person. It is horrible, really, to think that people like that should be so treated. The bathroom situation alone is appalling. But already they are arranging to build more. I mean the American Committee is doing this. The Japs don’t care. They aren’t caring much about the physical comfort of people. But the high spirits and morale of the internees annoy the Japs considerably.
A committee of internees has already been formed and they are getting order out of chaos. They have started
on extra plumbing, arranging for beds and cots to be sent in. The food problem is worse, although the Central
Committee seems to be serving food to all from a food line. I think some of the Red Cross stores got in—not many, for the head of the Red Cross didn’t use his head any too well.
The stores of Sternberg hospital, most of them, had to be abandoned when the Army took off the 26th of December. I felt the Red Cross should have taken them to a neutral ware- house or made use of them in some way. I went over to Sternberg myself, having heard they were going to sell the stuff—this before we were occupied. I filled the car with usable things—tinned meats, salmon, salt, etc., while a Filipino policeman, who had accompanied me, kept a list of the stuff. I went to the Red Cross woman who was there in uniform, and asked how I could pay for it. She threw a screaming hysterical fit and sobbed, “Take it, take it, we’ll be dead
before we can use it anyhow.” I felt like a thief, and eventually sent most of the stuff, or its equivalent into the Santo Tomas food line.
Most people have food sent in by their friends and servants; but it is so chaotic getting the packages in that
the food is not always in good condition when it finally gets into their hands. I took a big thermos jug of chicken fricassee in with me and other food, so my little group ate well today.
The Committee has arranged so that everyone will share in the work. Duties are apportioned to each one. I saw Maisie, the elegant proprietor of the most fashionable dress shop in town. She took time off from her duties to inform me that while I might have heard of a privy chancellor, she herself was the chancellor of all
privies. At least one laugh in there!
The women with children have been given a building to themselves, which I can imagine is a step ahead of anything Dante ever whipped up in the way of an inferno.
It’s a terrific problem suiting a university to camp needs. Someone told me that the Japs never intended to intern everyone permanently; they had meant to tag them all and turn them loose, except for those men within military age, to live in certain restricted areas with Japanese supervision. But the Germans, who had been interned by the Americans in early December, seemed to have talked the Japs into making the internment permanent for the duration. This may or may not be true. The town is so full of rumors that it is completely maddening. But the morale of the camp is of the very highest and the sense of humor is wonderful.
I really had a party this noon! After such a hectic morning. Janson, the Swede, had rescued his American wife and kids from the Baguio concentration camp and just returned today. I asked them to lunch along with a couple of Red Cross workers out of camp on errands, two of the American lads who are running the Bay View Hotel for the Japanese, and a young girl who was married to a Navy officer Thanksgiving Day. She is now out of camp because she is so obviously pregnant that the Japanese permitted her to stay out. All pregnant mothers and mothers with babies under one year have been released. But everyone is roaring with laughter at the seeming speedy results—November to January! Actually, she was secretly married some time ago. All this is vulgar but amusing.
It was quite amusing, the luncheon. We had beer for apéritifs, but during the lunch I sprung a bottle of Burgundy on them to celebrate. (Good thing Savary wasn’t there. He doesn’t approve of Sparkling Burgundy.) The hors d’oeuvres weren’t up to the standard of the French restaurant but highly appreciated. Then we had Boeuf Bourguignon, vegetables, a salad, and banana cream pie for dessert. Not a truly French lunch but everyone seemed to enjoy it. It was fun, for we really talked of something else beside the war and concentration camps and spoke of books and music, ending up with a wild argument about religion—always a lively controversial topic. Conversation around my table has always been good—some nonsense combined with good sense and intelligent opinions about all. I surely miss my friends, now in camp.
I have all my meals in my own apartment and also all meals for friends. We keep a table set up there, and anytime internees get out of Santo Tomas on a pass, they are welcome here. It’s kind of fun, sometimes, when we have Japanese officer clients to have Americans upstairs making fun of them.
I close up very early now and am doing quite a lot of reading. My current book is Ybarra’s Young Man of
Caracas. I remember my hectic days in Venezuela. It’s an interesting country.
It’s now past midnight. I shall read a little more, dress my mangled knee which I skinned falling off the bicycle yesterday. I feel a little sorry for myself for my typhoid-cholera shots are making me sicker and sicker—Japs ordered everyone to be inoculated, fearing some sort of epidemic.