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April 18, 1942

Capas, Tarlac

Filipino Concentration Camp



Heard that two school-mates are dying. They are Fermin Fernando, star basketball forward, and Luis Pimentel, brilliant speaker, great actor, and good friend. No help can be extended to them. Fernando has malaria; Pimentel, dysentery.

Many rumors in camp. It is said that we will be released after the fall of Corregidor. Others believe we will be prisoners till the end of the war in the East. Still others think that we will be made to fight against the Americans in Australia. I think that is impossible, not only because we won’t fight, but because we are in no condition to fight. Some opine that our leaders in Manila are trying to work out some compromise with the Japs to obtain our unconditional release.




Heart-breaking sight. Saw seven Americans. They were walking slowly in the narrow road between the Filipino and American concentration camps. Their faces were haggard, beards long, bodies emaciated. Suddenly, one American with an air-corps insignia collapsed on the ground. One of his friends tried to pick him up but the Jap guard motioned him to move away. Then the guard ran his bayonet through the American’s chest. I saw his blood flow to the sand. They were about twenty yards from me. I felt like killing that guard. Then the six remaining Americans were made to pick their dead comrade. The Jap grinned.




Evening. The breeze is cool. I can see the blue outline of Mt. Arayat in the distance. Somebody is humming a sad kundiman. The loneliest songs are sad kundimans.

The moonlight is shining softly on the dust-covered, half-naked bodies of the war-prisoners. Most of the boys are sleeping. I wonder how many of them will see the morning. Every day, twenty or thirty die in the night. Last evening, the soldier sleeping beside me died quietly. In the morning, we told him to wake up. “Up!” I shouted, “Roll-call, up!” When I held him, I felt he was already stiff. Rigor mortis had set in. There was a sardonic smile on his lips…