July 1, 1942

I had thought of touching on this theme several times, but for lack of data, I had to delay doing so. We knew a few details, loose ends gathered here and there, but we lacked an overall view of the new economic organization implanted by the new economists. Neither the civil nor the military government seem to be interested in making this matter public. Rather, they apparently prefer to leave us in ignorance.

We can, at most, assume this fact—or postulate—as a starting point: that the Philippines, while under the domination of the Americans, was an enemy of Japan against which she fought and for which she was invaded and conquered. Having been dominated, the Philippines has to pay the costs and damages of war. How will Japan ever recover such costs? As Japan has not officially imposed on the Philippines a share in the cost of war, nor indemnification, nor contribution to support the Occupation Army, what economic system would she install to recover such expenses?

All the economic activities are being manipulated by the super administrators from behind the curtain. Both the manipulators and the strings are invisible but the public knows that the actors are mere cardboard puppets manipulated by unseen strings.

Some economic advantages have obviously been obtained by the conquerors. Their most abundant sources of revenue are the stores and warehouses of the more valuable wholesale business establishments. Only the Japanese know the value of the spoils of war. If to these were added the number of trucks, cars and other motor vehicles confiscated, the amount would reach some ₱500,000,000.00.

With regard to the banking establishments, one fact is that when Sto. Domingo was being bombed last December 27, the banks, by order of the Military, loaded their deposits for transfer into a motor boat to Corregidor. Could it be that the Japanese got wind of this move and therefore bombed the river and Intramuros?

After the fall of Corregidor, Radio San Francisco announced that sometime in the middle of February, an American submarine succeeded in going through the Japanese line and reaching the island to bring provisions for the defending army. It left Corregidor with the bank money, allegedly amounting to some sixty million. The rest must have been dumped into the sea.

The Bank of the Philippine Islands has only some six hundred thousand pesos left in its vaults. The amounts left in the other banks are not known, but they were more or less around the same amount. The Japanese therefore found the vaults of the banks and of the National Treasury virtually empty.

Naturally, not all the money had been deposited in the banks. The money which is still in private hands amounts to millions. The conquerors, badly in need of metal, have tried to gather all the money, so much so that, after the Japanese entry, coins became scarce.

Meralco, an American firm, was commandeered, and all the coins which were confiscated therefrom were never put back in circulation. Streetcar conductors became short of coins for change, until tickets were issued for the purpose. The NARIC started rationing rice, demanding coins as payment. Finally, denominations disappeared, until paper money was issued.

The Japanese suspect that the people are hoarding the coins. Banks have therefore been ordered to hold back small paper denominations to force the people to spend their coins.

March 15, 1942

Today we finished listing down the losses we suffered during the bombings and fires of December 27 and 28. The engineer, A. Guevara, had prepared a detailed report on the value of the destroyed buildings. Based on the cost of materials and labor, the total losses were:

Church and Convent of Santo Domingo ₱1,270,750.00
Letran College 327,215.00
Santa Catalina College 503,300.00
Procurator’s Offices 32,000.00
Residential buildings of Letran at Muralla and Anda Streets 16,800.00
University of Santo Tomas 4,496.00
Residential buildings of Santo Tomas at Muralla Street 13,500.00
Lost furniture and equipment:
Church and Convent of Santo Domingo ₱872,753.00
University of Santo Tomas 5,260.00
Letran College 84,000.00

The loss of articles of art and objects of historical value will never be recovered. The library and many other things of incalculable value will never be replaced.

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.

Sat. Dec. 27/41

Cecil and I go to town to do a little business, and get home before the raid starts. Again they bomb the piers. Yesterday most of the bombs fell in the water, but this time they hit some of the piers, a large church building in Intramuros, and the Philippine Islands Mint where Mr. Cayabyab, works. The Catholic Church building, burned and some other buildings also.

Monday, September 14th, 1829

The first thing I heard this morning was the ringing of bells, and the military crossing the bridge as they returned from mass. About ten we rode out through the city to visit the churches. The cathedral was not open. We went first to San Domingo. It is a pretty church, but rather gaudy. There were several women there who had just been to confession. They go away happy, thinking they are absolved from all sins, and ready to begin a new list ! We then went home, and dined, with eleven Americans. After dinner rode upon the Calzada and through the city, and on our return had some music and two Indian dancers, who danced the fandango, keeping time with the castanets. They were very graceful in their movements. After tea drove to the Palace Square to hear the music of the three fine bands, which play here every Sunday and holiday from 8 to 9 p.m.