June 2, 1942

The public elementary schools which had been closed since the start of the war were opened yesterday. In the whole of Manila, only twenty schools have been allowed to open—a very small portion of what existed before. Intramuros used to have two elementary schools. Neither one was permitted to open. Only one section is authorized for each grade.

No private school has been authorized to resume classes so far. The four Catholic colleges for boys are occupied by the Army. Out of the twenty colleges for girls, two (Santa Rosa and Santa Catalina) were totally destroyed, and four are occupied by prisoners of Japanese soldiers. At Letran, with a portion of the building occupied by soldiers, we have lost all hope of opening the school. However, we still believe we will be able to rehabilitate six rooms for six grades in that part of the building which was assigned to us. We therefore sought permission to open the elementary school, which after all is the only level they have allowed to start classes.

Evidently, the new administration does not appreciate secondary and university education. They have announced their educational program as such: compulsory primary education for all; a limited enrolment for the secondary level, encouraging vocational education; university education only along the line of Medicine, Engineering, Agriculture and with only a selected number of young students to be admitted.

It is inescapably clear that the Filipino youth have been contaminated with the mania of pursuing a course. The capital has been drawing thousands of provincial folks who, with empty pockets and empty heads, have migrated to Manila full of illusions. All their ambitions are set on getting employed and have a little income to pursue a college course. Thousands of them who—for their aptitude for manual work and their ineptitude for mental endeavors—should be earning their bread through the sweat of their brows, have abandoned their fields, and having donned a clean shirt and necktie, can no longer be made to return to the plow. To sustain their children in college, their parents had to sell their lands, mortgage their houses or find other means from usurers.

Consequently, city life has become polluted by a swarm of parasites: doctors without patients, lawyers without clients, teachers without schools, pharmacists without drugstores, and a host of unemployed applicants, though there are also employment opportunities without applicants.

The rush for employment in the city is a plague that is causing so much dysfunction. After finishing a career through economic difficulties or mental inadequacies, they find that there is no one in the city to take them in. Neither do they find attraction in the provinces, and they end up meddling in politics or in labor unions, malpracticing their professions.

In Manila, lawyers graduate by the thousands annually. Many of them, for lack of clientele, join the police force or work as taxi rivers, hotel boys, or land just about any kind of job.

Now, these new educators come and with a single stroke of the pen they have cut short all these deficiencies by phasing out almost all courses. We are beginning to fear that the drastic remedy is worse than the ailment.

February 17, 1942

To add to the humiliation of the defeated British, the Japanese yesterday published side by side with the news of the fall of Singapore, the death sentence meted out to three Englishmen who attempted to escape from the concentration camp at Santo Tomas. The sentence was read before all the internees, and carried out four days ago. Here are some of the details of the historic incident.

The good treatment of the internees which I witnessed a few days ago did not prevent the brutal cruelties which the Japanese showed from time to time. Good treatment consisted of permission granted so that the prisoners may pass a day or two outside the camps in consideration of some gifts or money. These three Englishmen went out but did not return. Instead, they went to the province with the intention of either going to the mountains or joining the troops in Bataan. But they were captured. They were kept in one of the classrooms of the University where they were stripped of their clothing and manhandled until they lost consciousness, and one of them died. I was assured that it was not the intention of the Commandant to give them such a stiff penalty, but the soldiers overstepped their limits, and on seeing their victims so helpless, decided to kill them.

An American also escaped. He was a veteran miner, and as he knew the mountains very well, the Japanese failed to capture him.

Due to these incidents the watchdogs have put on a more ferocious stance. They have become more vigilant and decided to lock up the prisoners more tightly. For this purpose, they ejected the nuns of Sta. Catalina from the Education building which they have been occupying since the burning of their college. Then they put up a sawali fence between the Main Building and the Seminary. The Fathers will be using the side gate of P. Noval street without restriction from or vigilance on the part of the Japanese sentries. We had requested for this ever since they brought in the internees as we were being molested by the sentinels whenever we wanted to use the only available gate. The Dominican community is benefitted by this but the nuns are not. They had lost so much time looking for a place to house more than forty of their members, just to find out that they could not afford the rental. But Providence is great-hearted.

The worst part of it is that the Catholic prisoners, who number more than a thousand, are left without any spiritual assistance. The priests can attend to them only in the chapel where they have free access. With the tight security over the prisoners even the Fathers cannot push through with the catechetical classes and cultural conferences which they had organized. They were promised that a Japanese priest would be provided on Sunday. “But how can we confess to a Japanese priest?” The prisoners asked.

February 8, 1942

Today, Sunday, I shall speak in vague terms, as the New Regime is wont to do, with regard to religion and the Church. Up to now, the military authorities have not yet made it clear what their definite plans are, if they have any, about their relationship with the Church. Nor have they attempted to solve the religious problem, if there is any.

In one of the first flying propaganda leaflets which the Japanese planes sometimes drop instead of bombs over Manila in order to draw the people to them and alienate them from the Americans, there appeared the following: “And may God, who came from the Orient, bless you.”

A newspaper photo showed about a dozen Japanese soldiers seated in a church filled with faithful, and captioned, “Japanese soldiers hearing Mass in a Catholic Church together with Filipinos.” This has been the common scene in the provinces and in Manila. Still another photo showed a church intact, in an isolated place, captioned, “The Japanese Air Force, in destroying all military objectives, took maximum care in leaving intact the churches and centers of culture.”

I have only to look out the window and see this College and those of Sta. Catalina and Sta. Rosa with their respective chapels, the Intramuros Elementary School, the Sto. Domingo Church and convent, to see how these churches and centers of culture have been reduced to mounds of debris, and to convince myself that it is easier to catch a liar than a lame man.

The Prime Minister of Japan, General Tojo, and the Commander-in-Chief of the Japanese Imperial Army in the Philippines, whom nobody knows, reiterated their assurances that they would respect religious beliefs in occupied countries. They are exerting efforts to strengthen the spiritual ties existing among the Filipinos and the Japanese as Orientals. However, they have not embarked on the details of how they think of intensifying this Oriental spirituality, not specified how they are to discard what they condemn as the materialistic Anglo-Saxon way of life.

This is what they said, but what have they done? In a broad sense, one could say that they comply with their commitments. There are cases, few and isolated ones, of some priests being maltreated either by mistake or by ignorance, after which apologies were offered. Priests and religious have been treated differently, and they have repeatedly told us that the habit or the cassock is the best protection and the best pass in going about the city.

A number of American religious who were interned in Sto. Tomas were released after a few days. The religious of other enemy countries were less molested though their buildings were occupied by the army, as was the case of San Beda and La Salle. The Jesuits were gathered together at the Ateneo in Padre Faura and the Americans were locked up in voluntary seclusion to prevent the Japanese from occupying the building.

When the Japanese Army came to this country they brought along with them a Commission on Religion, composed of Buddhist monks, Protestant ministers and two Catholic priests with two seminarians, all of whom were Japanese. The head of the group was a Buddhist monk and they installed themselves at the Ateneo. The Catholic priests wanted to use San Ignacio Church, but as no one attended their services, they changed their plans. They went instead from parish to parish within the city, celebrating Mass and preaching. The Protestant minister did the same. The two seminarians, on the other hand, were more interested in learning Spanish and they went to the convents almost every afternoon carrying their grammar books, practicing and murdering the Spanish language. Although they were dressed in army uniforms, they were not army chaplains, as the Japanese Army had none, but rather liaisons of the army with the civilian populace.

The mission of the Commission on Religion seems to be two-fold; first, to enable the religious authorities in the Philippines to take up matters with the military authorities through the Commission; second, to make propaganda and create an atmosphere favorable to the New Regime.

Their first sermon was delivered at the Sta. Cruz Church on the Feast of the Three Kings. The preacher reminded the people that the Three Kings came from the Orient to adore the Savior, who, after revealing Himself to them, made them emissaries of the new dispensation before all nations. “In the same way,” the preacher continued, “we came from the Empire of the Rising Sun to bring you a new culture, a new spiritual life, which originated from the Orient, etc., etc.”

With respect to their attitude towards the reopening of Catholic schools, we still lack data on which to form a judgment. We cannot tell if they will permit the schools to function or impose strict conditions, as they do in Japan where Catholic schools are under close observation and foreigners are not allowed to teach in or operate such schools. Many are worried about the future of our colleges.