September 9, 1945, Sunday

My family visited me. I was very happy as I had not seen them since I left them in Tubao on April 19, 1945. It was the birthday of my wife and I celebrated it by going to confession.

That same day we got a good glimpse of the political situation. Among our first visitors were President of the Senate Manuel Roxas and Senator Melecio Arranz. Roxas and his men were very actively campaigning — Roxas was very open in his campaigning. He gave us the impression that Osmeña, his opponent, is against the “collaborationists”. Roxas visited us twice in my one week’s stay. Among other things, he told us how he had been snubbed by Osmeña. He said he went to see Osmeña when the latter came from the United States. Osmeña did not pay attention to him. MacArthur noticed it and as Roxas started to leave, he called Roxas to try to diplomatically get them together. Evidently, MacArthur called the attention of Osmeña, as the next day Osmeña sent for Roxas and treated him in the most cordial manner.

September 7, 1945, Friday

Yesterday I began to pack. Everybody was surprised as they knew that I had also become a pessimist. I told them we were going before next Sunday. Zulueta inquired, “On what do you base your opinion we are leaving soon?” I reasoned out that I expect MacArthur would turn us over to the Commonwealth immediately after the signing of the surrender document which took place on the 2nd instant. After assuming jurisdiction, I was very sure the Commonwealth would take prompt action to release us outright or under bail. I was sure that our government would not presume 119 guilty or at least afford us ample opportunity to defend ourselves. The only way to do that is by releasing us under bail in the meanwhile. Nobody seemed to take my hunch seriously.

This morning we woke up full of pessimism and gloom. Even the heavens seemed to decree our fate as it was dark and raining. Not one expected this would be a memorable day. We engaged in our usual activities with despondent demeanor, especially Mr. Zulueta. At about 11:05 a.m. here comes Lieutenant Straddling with his usual solemn attitude. After passing the gate, his face suddenly brightened. He was all smiles. We knew at once he was bringing some news. We were all breathless. We have received so much disappointment that nobody dared to predict favorable news. But when he was near us, he broke the news. Thirty of us were to be taken to Manila the next day. There was no general rejoicing as everybody was afraid that he would not be included among the 30 and nobody knew what the fate of those left behind would be. All listened attentively to the calling of the names. Everyone called burst in joy. After the reading of the names everyone scampered for the list to be sure his name was called or his name was not called. The Lieutenant stopped all chagrin when he announced that we would all be taken to Manila, by groups of about 30 persons in three planes.

We hardly slept that night. We were so excited, kept conversing. We built castles in the air. We remembered our dear ones. We would again enjoy liberty and taste the happiness of being with our family. We began to dream of plans for the future. We remembered and repeated the jokes. Many times we yelled, “Ilaw!”, the joke we played whenever we wanted the light to be put out or whenever we wished noisy or talkative fellows to shut up. We began yelling: “Gil! Cafe, chocolate!” Gil is the tall Spaniard we used to mistake for a “Bombay” because he wears a turban once in a while, who prepares coffee or chocolate for us every afternoon or early in the morning. But at about two o’clock, probably because of the intense excitement, we all fell asleep. At about 3:00 o’clock, we were awakened by noises from heavy steps and the “cocinillas” (small stoves) and pans. It was Gil preparing the coffee. Not knowing it was Gil, everyone began to yell, “Ilaw!” Gil answered that he was preparing coffee. How could it be — it was only 3:00 o’clock! We were not expected to take our breakfast until 5:00 o’clock. But Gil insisted that it was already after 4:00 o’clock. We all consulted our timepieces. It was clear his watch had stopped. We could no longer sleep. We stayed awake in our cots until about 4:00 o’clock when we got up and prepared for the day.

September 4, 1945, Tuesday

According to the radio, the occupation of Japan by the American Army was proceeding smoothly. The General Headquarters was established in Yokohama. MacArthur lives at the Summer Residence of the Emperor near Tokyo. (I forgot to state that the Chief of Staff of the Japanese Army, Gen. Umeozu also signed the surrender document. We met him in Manchukuo. He seemed to be a very kind man.) A big combined Navy is now in Japanese waters and American soldiers are pouring into Japan.

Pu Yi, the Emperor of Manchoukuo, is reported to have abdicated. He once gave us a banquet in his Palace at Heinking.

At about ten o’clock, Lt. Hagonberg came. It turned out that he was visiting Dean Bocobo. The latter is very much depressed and always thinks he is seriously ill and dying. The doctors and all of us think that his nerves were all shattered as a result of our unjust and unnecessary detention. Hagonberg was trying to comfort him. He told Bocobo to have patience; that he will soon be out; that the only difficulty now was transportation. Before he left, the Lieutenant talked to many of us, especially Recto. Among other things he said: “It is a shame how you have been treated this way. Any person in whose heart justice and humanity throb will feel the same indignation.”

After midnight, Bocobo again began moaning and calling, stating that he was dying. By the way, he had not been sleeping for many days. He was calling repeatedly for a doctor. Dr. Luz, a few beds away, went to his aid. But Bocobo kept yelling, “I want a doctor.” The Lieutenant and Dr. Bunye came. Dr. Bunye said there was nothing the matter with him. We fear he has lost his mind.

September 3, 1945, Monday

General Yamashita, the Japanese Commander-in-Chief in the Philippines, surrendered with thousands of his men in Baguio in the presence of Lt. Gen. Wainright. He was immediately confined in New Bilibid in Manila and will be tried as a war criminal. Under him, thousands and thousands of Filipinos, including my own daughter and brother-in-law, were massacred. He should be made, to atone for it. He should commit harakiri.

While on the way to luncheon a discussion ensued as to the retaking of the Philippines by MacArthur. With the exception of Alunan, all those who expressed themselves were of the opinion that the loss of over a billion pesos and the death of probably 200,000 Filipinos might have been avoided if the Philippines had not been retaken; that it was absolutely unnecessary since with America’s control of air and sea, better equipment, and the atomic bomb, Japan could have been brought to her knees by direct attack on Japan. But MacArthur, according to them, was ambitious. He desired to erase the blot on his record caused by his defeat in Bataan and Corregidor, and his escape from Corregidor. He said that he would return. And he wished to make good his word. The trouble was that in his effort to recover the Philippines, millions worth of properties and thousands of Filipino lives were sacrificed. Recto remarked: “MacArthur has destroyed the Philippines.” (“MacArthur ha destruido Filipinas.”)

In the afternoon, the Provincial Treasurer, Arcilla, came with letters for us. He first asked us to sign the receipt for the letters. We were very excited; we thought that it was an order for our release. It was a resolution presented by Rep. Magalona petitioning MacArthur to release us under bail. We appreciated it as we know Magalona had the best of intentions. But we all agreed that it was a foolish resolution. How can MacArthur grant us bail? The petition should have been to immediately turn us over to the Commonwealth, especially since there was already a plan for the disposition of our cases.

September 2, 1945, Sunday

Big day. Historical Day. The surrender document of Japan was signed on board the Missouri, a 45,000 ton dreadnaught, in Tokyo, by Foreign Minister Shigimatsu of Japan, General MacArthur and representatives of nations. General Wainright of Philippine fame was with Gen. MacArthur. It marked the end of the Pacific war in so far as hostilities are concerned. The formal end would be when the formal Treaty is signed.

It was declared a V. J. Day and a program of celebration, with Hollywood stars, was held. President Truman spoke.

In the morning, we held a meeting of all Class A presided over by Chief Yulo. The purpose was to coordinate our defense. We discussed all the events and checked on the facts regarding each event. We wanted no discrepancy. We traced the history of our connection with the Japanese, from the entry in Manila of the Japanese up to the time we fled from their jurisdiction. When I have the time, I shall make a resume of what we talked about.

To us, this is a day of hope. We all expect and pray to God that we may soon be able to join our dear ones. But we are still here. We do not know what delays our departure. There is absolutely no reason why we should not be out in a few days. MacArthur already announced that on or shortly after V.J. Day, we would be turned over to the Commonwealth Government. Pres. Osmeña and the Senate have already prepared the machinery and procedures to be followed for our cases. Why don’t they take us to Manila to allow us to secure release by means of a bond? We are innocent and we want formal vindication. We welcome an investigation and trial. We want our country and future generations to know what we have done for them. In fairness to us, we should be given every opportunity to defend ourselves, a right guaranteed by the Constitution. We should be allowed to write to our families to file the necessary bail. We do not know whether this is possible, now that censorship has been discontinued. We expect our families to arrange our bail as soon as we are turned over to the Commonwealth.

August 27, 1945, Monday

We have just received the Free Philippines of August 23. It is reported therein that the Chinese troops will occupy various areas, among which is Hongkong. In the same paper there is an item to the effect that Premier Attlee of Great Britain stated before the House of Commons that plans for reestablishment of British Administration in Hongkong “are fully prepared”. Do the British mean to return Hongkong to the Chinese or not? Apparently, there is no such intention. Japan is being ordered to return all the lands she had acquired by force. Hongkong was occupied by the British against the will of the Chinese. Why should not it be restored to the Chinese? Such inconsistency has absolutely no justification.

Domei reports by radio the following statement by Laurel:

“In view of the reoccupation of the Philippine Islands by the United States and the reestablishment therein of the government of the Commonwealth of the Philippines, the acceptance by Japan of the terms of the Potsdam Declaration of July 26, 1945 and the consequent termination of the Greater East Asia War, the Republic of the Philippines has ceased to exist.”

Gen. MacArthur on August 24, 1945 issued the following statement:

“On the 29th of December 1944, when I ordered the interment by the Army of the United States of citizens of the Philippines who voluntarily gave aid, comfort and sustenance to the enemy, I stated that the military would relinquish control of such persons to civil authorities at the conclusion of hostilities. On V. J. Day, or shortly thereafter, in keeping with that statement I have directed this transfer of jurisdiction from military to civil authority.”

“This step is taken in the firm conviction that the Philippine Commonwealth Government is prepared to deal justly with those persons accused of collaboration, the crime of treason. I am sure that the democratic principles of which the Philippine Commonwealth Government is based will guarantee swift punishment for the guilty and equally swift exoneration for the innocent.”

General MacArthur also pointed out that the Army’s prompt relinquishment of jurisdiction over persons accused of collaboration is “in conformity with my previously expressed view that civil authority should be completely restored as quickly as practicable after the cessation of hostilities.”

Acting on Gen. MacArthur’s announcement, Pres. Osmeña, in a special message to Philippine Congress on August 24, 1945, recommended the creation of a Special Collegiate Court to try all collaborators.

The President stressed that the Court should be composed of judges of First Instance “who did not work under the Japanese or engage, directly or indirectly, in the buy-and-sell business with the enemy.”

Osmeña also proposed the appointment of a staff of special prosecutors, headed by the Solicitor General.

Decisions of the Special Collegiate Court would be appealable to the Supreme Court. He added:

“In view of the fact that some members of the high tribunal may be disqualified under the requirements specified, the President recommends that judges of the Court of First Instance be authorized to sit in the tribunal in lieu of the justices who may be disqualified.”

The above news came like a bombshell in this prison. Everybody was dumbfounded. Everybody was disappointed. Everyone of us of course would prefer to be accused and duly tried so that when our vindication comes, it will be accompanied by a formal declaration of our innocence. But in view of the special circumstances, we thought that another course would be taken. As America won the war with hardly any loss of time, we thought that America would be more magnanimous and just forget everything. Also, all the Filipinos seem to wish unity and we thought they would want to finish at once the collaboration issue as this is dividing our people. But it seems that Osmeña wishes to go ahead with our cases. We welcome such a decision and we will fight to the last ditch. Our faith in him is waivering and I am afraid that we will not be able to be with him. What a difference in attitude between Osmeña and General Tito of Yugoslavia and General de Gaulle of France.

What could be his motive? Some believe that he is ill-advised by those who hate the “collaborationists”. Some think that he feels that we will prejudice his candidacy as he assumes that the great majority of the “collaborationists” would be against him. Others are of the opinion that there is imposition on the part of the Americans in which case we will have to conclude that he is a weakling. Few others assert that Osmeña’s mind is already far from what it used to be and his judgment is not as accurate as it used to be. For my part, I am willing to give him the benefit of a doubt by preferring to believe that it is his duty to push our cases to the end after passing through certain proceedings.

So there is no amnesty.

Why did he have to recommend to Congress the creation of a Special Collegiate Court? Has he no confidence in the regular courts? Why did he have to provide that judges who served during the Japanese regime cannot sit in this Court? If he has no confidence in their impartiality and honesty, why did he reappoint them? This requirement leads us to think that he is interested in our conviction and he does not want to take any chances by allowing men who served in the former regime to take part in the proceedings. At any rate, his plan would delay our cases. I am sure that such a bill cannot immediately be approved in Congress, or may be disapproved. What happens then?

From the beginning, I feared that we might become victims of politics. This is the reason why I had been saying that we would not be released until after the elections of November. Now it may be the plan to hold us until after the elections to eliminate us from the elections.

We demand that we be given an immediate trial and that in the meanwhile we be allowed to be out on bail so that we can prepare our defense. Now we see the necessity of getting together, of organizing our own party so as to protect ourselves and fight those who caused us this martyrdom.

* * * * * *

Autograph hunting continues. People asking for our autographs are not only our companions, but many ladies in this community whom we had not met. It shows their sympathy towards us.

I cannot keep track of all of them. I shall only copy one or two.

To Miss Pino: “Although I have not had the pleasure of meeting you, I have heard so much about you that I feel as if I had known you for a long time. We are here bereft of the warmth of the hearts of our families, relatives and friends. If our suffering had not been as intense as it could have been, it is because we found persons whose kindness and sympathy toward us make us forget our pains and worries. To you more than anybody else we owe this consolation.”

In the afternoons, we are allowed to play games at the plaza or Colony Square. There is a school along the way and we usually stop to look at the girls and the teachers. Evidently, they know who we are. Whenever the opportunity arises, we engage them in lively and friendly conversation. I recall a Miss Pino, a very pretty girl. She sent us many gifts.

Col. Torillo: “My greatest satisfaction during our forced stay in Iwahig is that it gave me the pleasure and opportunity of knowing persons who can be a credit to any country. Among them is you, Col. Torillo, whom I have learned to like and to admire. The work assigned to you here is a most difficult and delicate one. You certainly acquitted yourself admirably.”

August 24, 1945, Friday

Information from the radio: A Japanese delegation arrived in Manila and left after all information required of them had been given.

The schedule is as follows:

MacArthur and staff will go to Tokyo on Tuesday, August 28.

Formal surrender document will be signed in Tokyo on Friday, August 31.

Truman announced V. J. Day will be declared upon signing of the surrender document. MacArthur announces that after V. J. Day, the collaborators will be turned over to the Commonwealth government, and he hopes that this government will forthwith take action to punish those who are found guilty and to exonerate those found not guilty.

I hope Osmeña will take action without any delay.

Noon: French, one of the internees working in the radioroom, reports that a radiogram has been received to the effect that many of us, the list of which will soon arrive here, will be taken to Manila to be delivered to the Bureau of Prisons now in Muntinglupa. Sison reports that someone told him that 14 of us will go by plane.

At about 10:00 p.m. when we were already in bed, Dr. Bunye came and told us that a radiogram had just been received from Manila asking how many M.P.’s are available to accompany collaborators to Manila. Many attach much importance to this telegram. To me it means nothing because it is the natural thing. The war having been concluded, we have to be taken to Manila to face trial or to be released. In case of a trial, I suppose we will be given the right to give bond.

We have become crazy here. Any significant affair is thoroughly discussed and given some significance generally favorable to us. We certainly indulge in a lot of wishful thinking.

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.