November 25, 1944

Nov. 25th

Air-raid siren at 7:30 – Bombing has started.

At 4:00 PM the air raid alarm is still on – The bombing has been sporadic – The bombs somewhat heavier – Grace Park, The Port Area, and the railroad


lines & roadways leading [sic]28 of the City to the Northwest were strafed & bombed – There was some activity over Mariquina Valley to the East – The raid did not seem the type which would herald an invasion of Luzon – Still, rumors of landings are current again.

You would laugh, if you could see us picking up cigar stubs & cigarette butts, and rerolling them into cigarettes – I’ll never look down my nose again at the tramps in Central Park & the beggars in the Bowery – And I begin to understand the “sterno” drinkers along the waterfront.

The dysentery cases are getting worse in both quantity & quality – The hospital is full of them – Thank God: we have the Sulfa drugs still – I do not know what we’ll do, when we run out.

The air-raid passed signal was given at 6:30 PM, 11 hours air-raid. The second longest yet – 13 days since Sept 21st in which we have had raids – (7 since Nov.)

I have been reading “Eyeless in Gaza” by Huxley. I am enjoying it, because I believe I have hit on the right way to read it – More later about this book. Also more about “The Late George Apley.”

November 24, 1944

Nov. 24th

No action – It is interesting to note how intelligent people can torture themselves. Perhaps they derive pleasure from this torture – a form of masochism – Internees who for perhaps fairly sound reasons believed that our troops would be in Manila by the middle of December, now argue with much less reason that they will not be able to take Manila until April or May, that they will isolate Luzon and starve the Japanese (adding “and us”). They add sentences like this to newspaper reports of the progress of a relief ship: “The Japanese add that supplies will only be sent to Manila if conditions permit.” These people see us all dying, They almost gloat over a future mound of bones in front of the Main Building –

My view is that we can hope for release by Xmas – Let us pin our hopes on that date, but not too tightly, for we may wish to shift to New Years Day – There will be deaths – That is true – But let us do everything to prevent as many as possible – Let us care for the sick,


give up part of our rations for the children, and cheer up the aged – Let us remember that only by self sacrifice can this period of suffering be made endurable – The old “dog-eat-dog” life should not exist now. Let each of us set an example to the others – then when release comes, we shall be able to look back on these days, our bitterness and sadness lessened by the knowledge that we made all the sacrifices we possibly could to help each other.

This possibly sounds like drivel and rot to you – But I still believe that “forgetfulness of self” is the best way to endure suffering. And “Good humor is the finest mark of courage.”

I saw Clair & José Ossorio this evening – Claire has a very bad case of Beriberi, José is thin and needs an operation, – The children look pale – they have no stocks of supplemental food – I cannot understand why José, who is so wealthy in his own name and has a wealthy father, does not buy up milk, butter, beans & bacon & sugar. they are all available (milk ₱ 120 per can, butter ₱ 40, beans ₱ 120 per kilo, bacon ₱ 150 per kilo, sugar ₱ 130 per kilo – good P.I. pesos). Suppose it costs him ₱ 10,000 ?– He


has at least 20-30 times that in the bank. He could buy

15 cans milk ₱ 1,950
30 can butter ₱ 1,200
10 kg beans ₱ 1,200
10 kg bacon ₱ 1,500
20 kg sugar ₱ 2,600


This would last the 5 of them at least 1 month – But both Jess and José seem hipped on saving money – Luis is different – He has spent a great deal of money – As a result he & his family are fine. If M.J. were here, he would do everything for us – Actually, the company people have been treated very shabbily – In 3 years I have received only about ₱ 4500 equivalent in purchasing power (taking the Purchasing at the various times payments were made) to approx. ₱ 1100 or about 5 weeks salary – I have had to borrow the equivalent of ₱ 3200 in good pesos payable after the war – (3 months salary) and even this has not been enough – As I say, if M.J. had been here, it would have been different –


November 23, 1944

Nov. 23rd

No action – few rumors – Thanksgiving menu – 1 scoop rice, 4 oz thin vegetable gravy, 1 oz radish tops – But, nevertheless, a far better Thanksgiving than last year. Oh how I shall enjoy mother’s dinners again!!

In the last month I have read J. P. Marquand’s “The Late George Apley,” “Wickford Point,” and “H. M. Pulham, Esq.” Excellent, especially the first – I understand John Mason, Nat Clark, Benjamin24 and the others better than I ever did before – More of this later – I want these books in my library – on the same shelf with the New England Poets, Emerson, Thoreau, Alcott, Shepard’s25 “Pedlar’s Progress,” van Wyck Brooks’ two books, Satayana’s “The Last Puritan and some others.

You may be surprised by the number of books I have read in the last 23 days, 12 in all – But I work at night, and have to rest during the day – I find also, that with less to eat, my mind is clearer, that I can grasp a writer’s point more easily, analyze more rapidly and explain my


views, describe my feelings more vividly.

November 22, 1944

Nov. 22nd

Still under Air-alert. Some internees say they heard all night the rumbling of guns & flickering of lights far to the South – In a great arc from Southeast to Southwest – that would center around Calamba, if I am not mistaken.

The air alert ended at 2PM – We are back to an “all-clear” again – This is disappointing, but tomorrow something may happen again.

I have finished “What Makes Sammy Run.” A very good book, indeed. Sammy, an East Side Jew gives his philosophy – “Work hard, and, if you can’t work hard, be smart; and if you can’t be smart, be loud.”6

“No fair. Like they say in the sissy schools, no fair! For chris’ sake, grow up, this isn’t kindergarten any more. This is the world.”7

“Talent can get you just so far. Then you got to start using your head.”8

“How the hell have I had time to love anybody?”9

“You can give it all the fancy names you want – But when you come right down to it, its dog eat dog.”10


His friends describe him (

Al – “The horror of a fetus called Sammy Glick sprinting out of his mother’s womb turning life into a race in which the only rules are fight for the rail & elbow on the turns and the only finish line is death.”11

Al – “You’re physically incapable of having friends – all you can ever have are enemies and stooges.”12

Al – “I knew what he was thinking, that he would have liked to have her, that he would have liked to have someone, but it was impossible, it was absolutely physically psychologically, economically impossible.”13

Billie – “I’ve always felt that if I ever went to bed with him – even if he didn’t pay me – I’d feel as if I was doing it for money.”14

Kit – “A germ he didn’t have anything to do with got inside him and twisted him out of shape.”15

Kit – “Sammy’s childhood environment was the breeding ground for the predatory germ that thrived in Sammy’s blood, leaving him one of the worst cases on record.”16

Kit – “What do you think Sammy is but a desperate, hungry guy?”17

Kit – “He is the id of our whole society. He is the thing itself, the id, out in the open. It might not be very pretty, but there it was.”18


And now more general –

Al – “We only hate the results of people. But people aren’t results. They’re a process. And to really give them a break, we have to judge the process thru which they became the result which we see when we say so-and-so is a heel.”19

Al – “I realized that what was coming to him was not a sudden pay-off but a process, a disease he had caught in the epidemic that swept over his birthplace like a plague; a cancer that was slowly eating him away, the symptoms developing and intensifying: success, loneliness – fear.”20

Al – “But what good are words when not even experience was regenerate. It was too late to hate him or change him. Sammy’s will had stiffened. It had been free for an instant at birth, poised bird-free in the doctor’s hand that moment in the beginning before it began to be forced to the life molds, the terrible hungers of body & brain, the imposed wants. The traditional oppressions and persecutions, until at last Sammy’s will had curled in on itself, like an ingrown hair, festering, spreading infection.”21

Al – “I was modulating my hate for Sammy Glick from the personal to the societal. I no longer even hated Rivington Street, but the idea of Rivington Street, all Rivington Streets of all nationalities,


allowed to pile up in cities like gigantic dung heaps swelling up the world, ambitions growing out of filth and crawling away like worms

– – – – – – – – I realized I had singled Sammy out not because he had been born into the world any more selfish, ruthless and cruel than anyone else, but because in the midst of a war that was selfish and cruel Sammy, having become selfish, ruthless, & cruel, was proving himself the fittest, the fiercest, & the finest.”22

Al – “Sammy’s story is the blueprint of a way of life that was paying dividends in America in the first half of the 20th Century.”23

The writing is not pretty, but it suits the subject perfectly – a very fine book, good analysis – It deserves a place along with “Main Street,” “Babbit,” “Elmer Gantry,” Marquand’s books on New England – A picture of the times – This book should outlast all the trash like “Anthony Adverse,” “Gone with the Wind,” “The Sun is my Undoing,” etc.

I hear that while no landings have been made, the Tyabas & Batangas Coasts have been shelled for the last 48 hours – And a landing (or landings) is imminent – Hence the guerrilla activity.


It is time – Leyte has been consolidated, the air bases established, supplies brought in.

The food situation is becoming grimmer & grimmer – Many will not be able to hold out for more than a month –

November 21, 1944

Nov. 21st

The air-raid siren went off at 4:25 AM. Now it is after 10 o’clock, the air-raid alarm is still on, not a plane has appeared. We hear that 400 planes bombed Mariveles & Corregidor. A rumor, of course. But something is happening – I am sure of it – For the first time – It is just two months since Manila was first bombed. In the next weeks, we shall see great things – I have never felt so hopeful before.


The air-raid-passed signal was given at 12:24 – Almost 8 hours under the airraid & not a plane.

Rumors are spreading: guerilla activity in Bulacan & Pagasinan – Landings in Legaspi, Nasugbu, along the Tyabas coast. The paper is supposed to have said – “subversive elements, ex-convicts & disloyal elements aided by P-38’s have been causing disturbances in Bulacan and Pagasinan.” If this is true, we can really be hopeful. Surely we should never allow great guerilla activity unless an army was prepared to support the guerillas.

As for food, the situation grows worse with every day –

1) The camp is out of money. This means no more coconut milk, no more watery vegetable gravies – Even though the milk and the gravies are so watery that they contribute very few calories, they help us get the corn & rice down – I have recommended taking all private funds for camp use – There are about P 180.000 (military on deposit at the Tiwan Bank for a/c of individuals – If we use it only for the purchase of coconuts at P 8 ea it will last for 2 months.

2) The few cans of powdered milk the camp has left must be saved for the babies expected


between now and February. It is a crime to have a baby now. Some of the parents I am sure have planned it, so there will be no delivery costs. The camp & later the Red Cross will take care of the feeding, etc. Of course, some of the babies are out of wedlock, which surely was not planned.

3) Lt. Shiragi has suggested that all dogs in the camp be killed & eaten – Children to be given the best cuts & aenemic patients be given the livers – It is interesting to note that as he was giving this advice, 6 cows & 2 calves were brought in for use of the Commandants Office.

4) A supply of cassava root arrived – Lt. Shiragi asked for a crew to grind it into flour – Earl Carroll asked how much the camp should be given – Shiragi answered “The camp?…Well, maybe a little bit.” He’s absolutely shameless!

5) So we’ll need good humor – I weigh 107 now, down 11 pounds in 21 days. It is hard to climb stairs. But while I often wonder when the troops are coming, I would not want them to start until they could go forward with little loss of life – We are not important enough to waste the lives of strong young


men –

The Cadillac (41) of the Japanese C-in-C (Yamashita) is in protective custody – Yamashita is still on the loose –

November 20, 1944

Nov. 20th

Perhaps bodies are not the determining factor in our lives – Wilfred Grenfell, Marie Curie, Pasteur, Mozart, Beethoven, Schiller – all worked under physical handicaps & hunger. It is great comfort to realize this – there is a difference, of course – all of them were working towards some definite goal, in a field that they loved – But as Milton said, “They also serve only who stand & wait.” –

No action today – Rumors again of landings on Luzon – also a rumor of a landing in Mindoro.


We actually know that we have cleaned up Leyte & Samar and have landed on the Northern tip of Cebu. And that we have complete air control of the Visayas & Luzon. Sooner or later it must come.

There are also reports of the relief shipment – supposedly arrived at Kobe Nov. 11th .

I have read two very interesting articles on poetry in old copies of the Atlantic Monthly – one by MacLeish who asks whether there can be any relation between poetry & political revolution and answers that since poetry is a relation of experience and since political revolution is experience, poetry can deal with political revolution – The second article was by Conrad Aiken who deplored the close connection between “poetry” and “sociology.” He feels that poetry can only be the expression of an “I”, that it is intensely individualistic. He decries the irony and satire in modern poetry – actually, what he decries is the attempt to achieve indifference – poetry, he says, can only be subjective –


It is time for another romantic revolution – etc. etc.

But he cites as examples of what is needed, poems by two modern writers – poems which are nearly incomprehensible –

That is just what I think is wrong with modern poetry – The poets are not writing for the people, for a vast audience – They are writing for a small clique – And then the members of this small group interpret these poems to the public through books, articles and reviews – Robinson, Sandburg, Frost and their contemporaries write and are writing for the public – But Auden, Spencer, MacNeice, Stevens, E. E. Cummings & – in many poems T. S. Eliot – all apparently disdain us – Look at Eliot’s “Wasteland,” The same is true of Stein, Wolfe & Joyce in the novel – It is never necessary to be incomprehensible – And I detest poems composed of words put down for their musical effect & not for their meaning –

Beauty equals universal truth plus music (in poetry) I want both a meaning and


aesthetic beauty in poetry – Poetry can be savage, tender or what you will – It can deal with revolution – But it must be comprehensible.

I am reading “What Makes Sammy Run”5 – More of this later –

Today Lt. Shiragi said that we should kill all the dogs in the camp & serve them on the food line – I agree that the dogs should be killed – They are a menace to our health – But I do not relish eating these mangy mongrels – This shows while I may be very hungry, I am not yet starving – Otherwise I would make no such objection.

November 19, 1944

Nov 19th

The air-raid signal sounded at 6:00 AM today – There had been bombing to the South since 5:30 – some of our planes came over about 8:15 and bombed & strafed the airfield, the Port Area and the main railroad station – one plane was shot down in a dog fight – Just one mass of flames – The poor fellow must have been burned alive, if he was not killed by the bullets that hit his plane –

Desultory bombing all day – The important bombings must be further South –

I have just read Wavell’s “Allenby.” I found it disappointing except for the last part which deals with the Campaign in Palestine & Syria. Megiddo was really a masterly piece of work – T. E. Lawrence and the Arab uprising assuming their rightful proportion – A proportion distorted by Lawrence in his “Seven Pillars of Wisdom.” Wavell is of the opinion that Allenby was one of England’s greatest generals – I have read most of the official histories and memoirs of the Great War; I can not agree


with Wavell – Plumer, Monash, Smith-Dorrien, Hamilton were certainly as good generals as Allenby – Hoffmann, von Seeckt, and other Germans were superior – Allenby was really a good “Bluff.” He had very fine qualities, certainly – But equal to Cromwell, Marlborough. Moore & Wellington? Never – Wavell must have served with Allenby – A great deal of the book suggests this – Wavell is at his best when describing battles & campaigns – but the maps are poor – As for the rest of the book it is boring –

I am dead tired – on duty for 12 hours now at the hospital – There is not much work, but the strain in just being here is very great –

Are we considered a symbol in the United States of America in the P.I.? Have we purposely been left here as a reminder to the Filipinos of the past years? If this suffering has a purpose, then we will not regret it. But if we are starving, have been left to starve, have been forgotten, then the bitterness will be very great – We will want to know why the women & children & and the sick were not



We hear no further food supplies will be brought into camp – that means, after the middle of December no food at all – say after December 20th – one month! One month on 950 calories per day! Try to imagine what 950 calories represent – Every day we have at home 3000-3500 in a well-balanced diet – here 950, all of it in carbohydrates!

I am very depressed tonight, perhaps because I am so tired – Those next weeks are going to demand plenty of grim courage – How will we measure up?

November 18, 1944

Nov. 18th

When the Committee saw the Commandant about an increased ration, he told them “You do not realize that Japan is fighting a total war – America and England are not. Every man, woman & child in Japan is fighting the war for our very existence – We do not care, therefore, whether you live or die.”

Frank at any rate!

The rumor about the relief ship is current again – Supposedly it is due next Monday (20th). And the rumor continues that there will be a representative of the International Red Cross

[Note: leaves numbered 153 and 154 are missing with no break in text]


on board – If the relief supplies do arrive hundreds of lives will be saved –

I have just finished the critical study of an anthology of poetry by Filipinos which a Mr. Siler wished to have published after the war. The poems (some 700) are in English – I thought 105 might be considered worthy of inclusion in such an anthology –

These poets are writing in a language for which there is no tradition in the P.I. Therefore, they use words which we would never use – E.g. multiplicious, etc. – They do not handle abstract themes at all well, and the best poems are the short lyrics dealing with some simple phase of daily life – the poems of Floresca are an exception – Anero, Aguado, Floresca, Tarrosa, Zeichieta – all write very well – and there is one – Estoncurbo – who does a remarkable job with the triplet – but this is virtuosity, not genius – Aguado’s “Pastoral” is one of the best –

How I wish I had my books and music here – And all of you to enjoy them with me –

November 17, 1944

Nov. 17th

What I have expected has come to pass – our camp reserves of rice are exhausted. And starting tomorrow we will receive only 225 grams of cereal daily – nothing else – This is equal to about 950 calories – 1/3 of what we need – The children will have some milk and vegetables, so that they will have about 1100 calories, about 55% of what they need – Of course, the diet is mostly carbohydrates – there is little protein in rice & corn – But we get no meat, no sugar, almost no vegetables, no fruit, no coffee, no tea – three scoops of mush for breakfast, 1 scoop of soft boiled rice (lugao 4) for lunch and 1 scoop of rice or corn for supper –

I weigh 110 today – Down 18 pounds in 17 days – 81 pounds below my prewar weight –

“Good humor is the finest mark of courage” There is


one thing we have that the Japanese have not: Hope – I would rather have 950 calories a day & hope than 3000 calories & despair

And many people, millions are starving throughout the world. In Poland, Germany, Denmark, Belgium, France China & here in the P.I. The Japanese are not eating well.

So the struggle enters its crucial stage – The Marines against Starvation –