28-Sept-45

We disembarked from the ship this a.m. at 1000 by a landing barge. Trucks picked us up as soon as we got ashore and brought us out to a medical replacement center a few miles from Manila. We sleep in ward tents and the food here is really very poor. It also gets quite muddy around here when it rains and they say that it rains quite often. We are only supposed to stay here a short time and then we will be transferred to other hosp. units around in the Philippines. Some of our unit that came up here earlier have already been
transferred. On our way out to this camp they hauled us through the city of Manila and we could get a good look at the damage done by the war. It really has been destroyed to a very great extent. Many of the large buildings have been blown down or completely gutted by fire. Some of the bridges were blown up but the Army engineers have already repaired them or spanned new temporary ones across the rivers. Fisher, Molitor and I secured our passes this evening and went into Manila. We could then get a better view of the city’s destruction. The streets were really crowded with Filipinos and there were quite a lot of small eating places and bar rooms open. I didn’t purchase anything at any of these places for it is rather risky to buy anything to eat or drink if one doesn’t know if the places are respectful or not. So much of the food that the Filipinos have is unfit to consume and much of the whisky is poison. Some of the soldiers that used to buy some of the whisky here have died from them and some still do. There is also much venereal disease in Manila and the surrounding areas. The 93 Field Hosp. right by us here handles nothing but v.d. cases and at one time they had as high as 2,000 patients. The land around here in this area and surrounding country is slightly rolling and has some type of grass growing on it. There are a few small fields of rice around here, but I don’t as yet know to what extent it is grown in this part of the country.

There is an Am. Red Cross in the heart of Manila which is a pretty nice place. They serve sandwiches and coffee or cold drinks. They also have a dance floor, pool tables, ping pong tables and a craft shop. When the three of us came back from town last night we really had quite a time. We got lost and were wandering around out here in the fields someplace trying to locate our camp.

“The problem of venereal disease among troops crowding into Manilla after fighting through the Luzon campaign was one of the most serious faced by the base section…The problem continued in succeeding months as soldiers spent their leave in the urban areas of the Philippines.”

From Organization and Administration in World War II, Vol. 1, p. 494

February 18, 1945

The evenings are a nightmare. They bring a rosary of shocks produced by powerful guns which, from New Manila and Grace Park, strike at Ermita and Intramuros, shaking the air, the earth, the doors and the nerves. Projectiles fly over our heads, whistling their funereal song of destruction. We cannot look at them: we can only follow their trajectory with our ears. Mortars from the Far Eastern University and the Osmeña Park batter the eardrums with metallic poundings. Machine guns, crackling like coffee grinders –Tac, Tac, Tac, Tac, Tac! rattle in, from behind, at the sides, in search of Japanese snipers. The fires from the Japanese side which reach our vicinity add to the confusion. A mortar hit the tower of the main building where the Americans had set up an observation post, and from which General MacArthur observed enemy lines this morning. Others fell on the Education building and on the intern’s garden. However, there were no casualties.

But more shattering than the dissonant harmony of war engines is the news about the tragedies suffered by survivors who escaped from the southern part of the city. The accounts are so terrifying and so macabre that my spirit was filled with infinite bitterness, and I wept with tears of pain and indignation. From the sadness and sympathy arose an impotent anger against the infernal forces which vented its desperation and hate among the civilian populace. So many families of acquaintances and friends exterminated. So many mutilated. So many who escaped the Japanese hell lost everything but their lives. The hospitals –the few old ones which still remain, and a number of improvised ones– are filled with the wounded, whose hands or feet or body are perforated with bullets or shrapnels. Many are searching desperately for their lost loved ones. Manila is a picture of sadness impossible to describe.

The Japanese plan of attack against the defenseless Manilans is as diabolic as it is organized. Its defense strategy consists in positioning themselves behind the civilian residents, and as the conquerors advance within a dangerous distance, they flee or burn the buildings and retreat a few blocks backwards. They machinegun the residents who attempt to put out the fire or run for their lives. The only way to save themselves is to jump into a ditch and stay there. Anyone who raises his head is fired at. They stay for four to eight days without eating or drinking, tortured by a rabid thirst. I was told of cases where persons, dying of thirst, drank human blood mixed with mud.

In many cases, the soldiers would approach the ditches and kill the occupants with bayonets. That was how they killed the De La Salle Brothers –Irish and Germans–, the Padres Paules of San Marcelino among whom were Fr. Visitator Tejada and Fr. José Fernández, and Irish Fathers of Malate, together with the evacuees in their buildings. The same fate fell on fifty others, almost all of whom were Spanish, who took shelter in the Spanish consulate. Aside from being attacked with bayonets, they were also attacked with hand grenades. Only a little girl escaped alive.

Another way of liquidating the people is by herding them into a house and setting fire to it, at the same time hurling hand grenades inside. Anyone who attempts to escape is shot.

There were frequent cases where soldiers threw hand grenades into the ditches or air raid shelters, and those who attempted to escape were hunted like animals. In order to economize on bullets, the assassins usually would tie entire families to post or pillars and kill them with bayonets. It was not rare that a hundred or more persons were lined up and machinegunned.

In the shelter at the German Club, some four hundred persons of different nationalities were attacked and massacred by drunken soldiers. Only about half a dozen escaped. The young Enrique Miranda, son of Telesforo Miranda Sampedro, told me that his mother and five brothers were taken by the Japanese. He did not know what happened to them. We learned later that their bodies were found mangled –those of his two brothers, in the street. Enrique said that he was made to kneel down and they hit him on his neck. He lost consciousness. He came to his senses when a soldier was prickling him with the point of his bayonet to find out if he was already dead. He tried to bear the pain and feigned death. The soldier covered him with earth. He was able to bore a hole through which he breathed. Later, he squeezed himself out and, bleeding all over, he hid among the stones until he was found by the Americans.

In Singalong, the Japanese marines gathered the men to send them on forced labor. The men were made to line up and were herded on groups of ten into houses where their heads were cut off. As those who were in the streets could not hear anything, they entered the houses confidently, believing they were only to register their names. A son of Mr. Ynchausti, among others, escaped, but was badly wounded.

It was providential that in almost all cases, someone among the victims was able to escape and was able to relate the fate of his companions.

The Japanese installed machineguns on the towers of the Paco and Singalong churches, not to counterattack the approaching Americans but to mow down the residents –men, women and children– who might attempt to flee. The Remedios Hospital and the San Andres agricultural school, where thousands of escapees had taken shelter, were shelled with mortars and even Japanese anti- aircraft guns. Many, however, were also killed by American bombs.

Very few persons escaped unscathed from the southern xone. There were countless wounded and it was almost impossible to attend to them all in spite of the fact that the doctors and nurses, both Americans and Filipinos, worked beyond their limits. The suicidal and homicidal plan of the Japanese, according to superior orders, was to exterminate the whole population and annihilate themselves. Survivors attributed their survival to a miracle and to a special favor of Providence. Many promises and vows were made and each escapee had his heartrending tragedy to tell.

The savagery displayed by the Imperial Army is as brutal as it was unexpected or, better still, it is doubly brutal for being unexpected. There were fears, and it was expected, that the Japanese would not hand over the city on a silver platter, but we could not believe that their ferocity would reach such a point of diabolic savagery.

The phantom of hunger not only hovers over the people. It holds the people captive in their claws. There is nothing to buy in stores and marketplaces. And where there are goods, there is no money with which to buy them. The occupation money has been reduced to what it is –scratch paper. The new Victory bills which the U.S. Army brought along, are still hardly in circulation. Those fortunate ones who live in the liberated zone have exhausted the supplies of rice and mongo. Parents and friends of escapees from the Japanese hell who were given refuge by those in the north are creating problems of food supply.

The American Red Cross, the PCAU and the soldiers themselves try to assist the hungry people, but there are so many of them and here is just not enough supply for all. I met a number of friends whom I hardly remembered, especially those who escaped from the claws of the Japanese and who had been reduced to skin and bones. There were also those who had been wounded or mutilated. The liberating troops, as they advance step by step, house by house, perform the dual function of combatants and Samaritan, gathering the survivors, assisting them with their own rations and transporting them to the rearguard. The wounded are transported by the Red Cross, the officers of the chaplains to improvised hospitals at the north of the Pasig. The able bodied travel in the way they could, searching for the members of their families who were separated in fleeing from Japanese fire and vandalism. Hungry and thirsty, they roam the streets as souls in agony, broken and ragged, pale and sweating under the heat of the sun, looking for people they know, and recounting their own horrors and those of others.

February 10, 1945

We received some evacuees who passed through fields which were not yet liberated. They told us that there are thousands of them in Alacan, a barrio of San Fabian where they are attended to by the Red Cross and the PCAU. They were fleeing from the Japanese soldiers who devoted themselves to pillage, rape and murder of people who fell into their hands. The people are fleeing to the mountains, looking for occasions to cross the line of fire.

We also had under our shelter seven Belgian Sisters from Tubao, with two missionary priests. They were picked up by the Red Cross and brought to this Sanctuary. Thousands of others are being assisted and transported to places behind the lines. We know nothing about those who are at the other side of the battlefield, and we are expecting the worst.

September 16, 1944

Well, another week has passed and no startling events have been forthcoming. The Japanese C.O. told the American C.O. just why it was necessary to have everybody work on the farm — simply this, it must support us. Food prices in Luzon are staggering — okra P .60 per pod, eggplant P 1.20 each and meat P 65 per kilo including bones. No more Japan details are rumored but we are still a little apprehensive on that score. The Nipponese are busy digging holes all over their part of the camp — fish ponds they tell us. The answer of course is “foxholes” and are we glad to see that activity? We are! I doubt that there is a 1 chance in 1000 that the Yanks will bomb this camp, but naturally the guards to not feel so assured. News from the outside is now totally lacking but we are anxiously listening to the overtones now and some signs are visible. In all the turbulent seas of the world, many typhoons are blowing. We alone seem to inhabit the only calm spot — we hope, seemingly vainly, that some gigantic storm is brewing near here.

Those who, under any conditions, should continuously strive to remain silent are most often the ones who do most of the talking. There are in infinite number of experts in an infinite variety of fields left in this camp. From observation it seems that man’s first reaction or impulse is selfish — it takes studied striving to do or be right, it is not the natural thing to do. Some people overcome themselves easily, others find it impossible. I cannot agree with the man who said “mankind is fundamentally good.” I gave up “impulse” long ago. I do not base my conclusions on the premise that man is good but rather that he is successful in his battle with himself, never forgetting that any moment he might be defeated.

A redig of guarante trois, octobre shows a change in moral trend. Feminine hygiene and syphilis openly discussed in print — would have been frowned on when I left in ’40. Everything is very matter of fact — not what I would have expected the general tone to have been. More today we hope.

Our farm produce is picking up again — every 2nd day now we get a good vegetable stew — the remainder of our diet is rice, corn and dried fish. We hope more corn will come into the commissary — present price P 6.00 for 1/5 of a gal. However, it gives mush and corn bread which fills our stomachs. Six months ago we planted a papaya tree; within the next month we will get produce therefrom. We get corn on the cob, dry it, grind it and then make our bread — for a while we grew it too! We buy tobacco leaves, stem them, cut them, and roll our own cigarettes on a homemade machine. We keep a yeast culture going and use it on our mush and in corn bread. We patch our own ragged clothes and wear wooden shoes to save the leather ones during rainy season. On one pair of my shorts there are eleven patches — less than 1/10 of the original surface remains visible. Needless to say I put them all on. Our table and stools are made of oddly assorted boards but manage to look neat nevertheless. For nails at times we have cut short lengths of wire and driven them in. Talk about getting along on & shoe string or “from riches to rags” — “we is it.” We are issued 10 skags per week, no toilet tissue for 6 months, no shaving equipment other than R.C. since I have been a prisoner, one tooth brush, one suit of 2nd hand dungarees, one suit of underwear and about 6 prs. of universal size socks (having no feels, they fit anybody) (?). We have had enough laundry soap but the prisoners in Davao had none for a year.

Every other day we get an “A” ration for being ldrs. and that helps some — for the last three days our noon ration has been about 1/2 a canteen cup of rice (cooked). We have received 7 R.C. pkgs. so far (i.e., 7 small ones or 1-3/4 large) – – we cannot believe that this small amount was all that America sent to us. We have had no amusement or recreational activities for more than 2 months. Food, of course, has prevented athletics. Much of this cannot be helped, of course, but they did accept the responsibility and I believe most of us will now make it through to the end. If we face the east we are the Light Brigade. Look up! Look up! Feeling a little on the optimistic side.

June 2, 1944

Arrived in this camp 2 years ago today from Camp O’Donnell Prison have been through a lot in these 2 years. Lots had happened, but very little that I am aware of. Went swiming [swimming] today while looking gravel for road in the woods. Was wonderful and theriver is quite deep. Came across a mangoes tree and we were each allowed two apiece. Will take a week or more to ripen, but I’ll wait. Anything for chow. Have been bringing “pig weed” in when I can find it and we eat it with relish. Anything to get something in your gut. The worst thing that happened to me this week was a Nip taking away an Iguana which I caught in my trap in the woods. I sent him in on the afternoon truck by Mr. Ford and it was taken at the gate. Would have made wonderful meal for the the six of us. It only makes me want to get att these guys that much more, will just add a few more to my list. Our time will come. In a letter Mr. Lirda mouth received from his mother, she stated that she had been in formed that we were receiving one red cross box a week. One a year is what we have received Tooks [looks] like graft to me. The Red Cross holds themselves up as an organization that can deliver under any circumstances. Phooney – – –

 

May 31, 1944

A letter from the Internment Camp Committee to the Bunshiyocho on May 31: “Dear Sir, on February 14, 1944, we wrote you a letter calling attention to the inadequacy of our daily food allowance. A copy is attached. At that time our medical authorities stated that the health of our camp would deteriorate if that system of food rationing were followed. Today in consultation with Dr. Shaffer, the head of the Health Department, he emphasized that whereas in February 15% of the camp population was suffering from food deficiency, at the present time over 50% of the camp is suffering from undernourishment or malnutrition, resulting in marked increase in medical treatment for anemia and stomach disorders. You will readily see that the health of the camp is the most serious problem which confronts us. We wish to point out the following: the Red Cross supplies  have helped to maintain the health of the camp to the present time. However, these are practically exhausted. [We need] 1. More fresh vegetables. 2. A definite increase  in the amount of protein foods such as meat, eggs, beans, peanuts . . . ”

Kaito of Taiwan asked today for the masticator. Miss McKim looked very blank, discovered it was the meat grinder he wanted. Someone asked Kaito why such different questions were asked of camp members and he answered, “Oh, to let Mr. Yamato practice his English.”

January 19, 1942*

*probably erroneously published as January 18, 1942 in the printed version

According to the information I gathered, the condition of the internees has greatly improved. The whole length of the fence has been covered with sawali to protect them from curious passers-by. They have organized themselves into groups, according to their professions or vocations, to work as electricians, mechanics, clerks, actors, couturiers, accountants, etc. Others do kitchen chores, police work, digging pits or the garbage, cutting grass, etc.

They also organized a football league with eight teams, composed of British and Spanish internees, and another for basketball, composed mostly of women. The favorite seems to be indoor baseball, in which many Americans participate.

Those who have no one to receive provisions from –and they constitute the majority– are being fed by the American Red Cross. A large gas kitchen was installed for this purpose. I was told that some $4,000 a day are being spent on this. The Japanese, however, do not spend a single centavo for the internees. They alleged that this was the penalty for what the American Army did in burning supplies, notwithstanding the fact that those who did it are now in Bataan and Corregidor, fighting.

The internees also published a mimeographed newsletter three times a week –previously censored– with news about the prisoners. Of course, they are not allowed to use the telephone or the radio, nor communicate outside.

Tues. Dec. 16/41

Cecil goes to market, and I go to Pinagkaisahan to see the folks there. They are to be evacuated by the Red Cross, as it is too dangerous so close to the fort. The barrios look very deserted, houses vacant, with pigs and chickens that were left behind wandering around looking for something to eat. In the afternoon Cecil and I start an air raid shelter under the house with the help of Mr. Cruz. Willie came along with some papers to fill out. He was mistaken several times for being an enemy alien. Quite an assault on enemy aliens and fifth columnists!