Captured: The Japanese Internment of American Civilians in the Philippines, 1941-1945

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Overview


More than five thousand American civilian men, women, and children living in the Philippines during World War II were confined to internment camps following Japan's late December 1941 victories in Manila. Captured tells the story of daily life in five different camps--the crowded housing, mounting familial and international tensions, heavy labor, and increasingly severe malnourishment that made the internees' rescue a race with starvation. Frances B. Cogan explores the events behind this nearly four-year captivity, explaining how and why this little-known internment occurred. A thorough historical account, the book addresses several controversial issues about the internment, including Japanese intentions toward their prisoners and the U.S. State Department's role in allowing the presence of American civilians in the Philippines during wartime.

Supported by diaries, memoirs, war crimes transcripts, Japanese soldiers' accounts, medical data, and many other sources, Captured presents a detailed and moving chronicle of the internees' efforts to survive. Cogan compares living conditions within the internment camps with life in POW camps and with the living conditions of Japanese soldiers late in the war. An afterword discusses the experiences of internment survivors after the war, combining medical and legal statistics with personal anecdotes to create a testament to the thousands of Americans whose captivity haunted them long after the war ended.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"Captured is an important and powerful piece of World War II history, as well as a fascinating human interest story, and offers a foundation on which broader studies of international internments might be made. There is no other book that attempts as much coverage."--Carol M. Petillo, author of Douglas MacArthur: The Philippine Years

"Cogan has given us a truly remarkable and important book. Her work is a labor of love and is significant not only for students and scholars of World War II, but also for those interested in the wider American historical experience."--American Historical Review

"The U.S. internment of Japanese-Americans during WWII is well-known, but this captivating history depicts a virtually unknown tale: the story of Japan's wartime imprisonment of Americans living in the Philippines. . . . Through her use of prisoners' diaries, Cogan turns this history into compelling drama. . . . Cogan demonstrates in straightforward, lucid prose how, once the Americans were captured and interned, their once-comfortable lives devolved into subsistence. She carefully avoids both understatement and exaggeration, noting, for instance, the kindness shown by some guards. . . . [An] original addition to WWII history"--Publishers Weekly

"A valuable study about American civilians interned in the Philippines by the Japanese during the Pacific war. Cogan's Captured is part of a slowly growing historiography on Americans taken prisoner by the Japanese during the war, and she is to be commended for completing a more comprehensive study of civilian internees than has heretofore been attempted."--Journal of American History

"Captured is a wake-up call as to what Americans need to know about atrocities that occurred to civilians during World War II."--McCormick Messenger

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
The U.S. internment of Japanese-Americans during WWII is well-known, but this captivating history depicts a virtually unknown tale: the story of Japan's wartime imprisonment of Americans living in the Philippines. More than 5000 Americans were living on the U.S.-controlled island when Pearl Harbor was bombed, and when the U.S. military--in accordance with previous strategic plans--did not fight the Japanese invasion of the island in 1941, the Americans were fair game. Through her use of prisoners' diaries, Cogan turns this history into compelling drama. While the Japanese invasion took the mostly upper-class Americans living on the island by surprise, some families were still able to go into hiding and avoid captivity for nearly two years. Cogan demonstrates in straightforward, lucid prose how, once the Americans were captured and interned, their once-comfortable lives devolved into subsistence. She carefully avoids both understatement and exaggeration, noting, for instance, the kindness shown by some guards. The life she describes is worse than that suffered by Japanese-Americans in the U.S. camps--adequate rations and medical treatment were not available, and there was occasional torture and death--but it still appears to be markedly better than that suffered by most prisoners in Nazi camps. As the end of the war neared in 1945, however, conditions deteriorated, and starvation and death became more common. As one nurse said, "The tremendously active kids that used to tear around the campus like savages were now little old men and women. Hollow-eyed, skinny, and listless, they sat around and talked about food." An epilogue tracing the struggles and triumphs faced by the survivors after liberation completes this original addition to WWII history. Photos not seen by PW. (Jan.) Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780820321172
  • Publisher: University of Georgia Press
  • Publication date: 1/27/2000
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 384
  • Sales rank: 1,217,835
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 1.20 (d)

Meet the Author


Frances B. Cogan is a professor of literature in the Honors College at the University of Oregon, Eugene. She is the author of All-American Girl (Georgia).
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Read an Excerpt




Chapter One


Pearl of the Orient


Manila and the Prewar Philippines


          Beginning with the Philippines' acquisition at the end of the Spanish-American War, America's attitude toward its new colony seemed a muddled mixture of entrepreneurship and paternalism. Throughout the years up to World War II, benevolence wound itself around both geopolitical advantage and the profit motive. As Karnow points out,


America's ultimate goal for the Philippines, a sideshow to the main Cuban arena, was left undefined.... McKinley pondered the problem of what to do with the archipelago—which he could not find on the map.... Eventually he later revealed to a group of clergymen, God told him to annex the islands and "do the best we could for them." (11)


    But of what did "the best we could [do]" consist? Were the Philippines a colony to be used as an investment opportunity and an imperialistic source of raw lumber, sugar, copra, and precious metals? The presence of prospering large and medium-sized corporations throughout the islands, as well as a variety of small companies, seemed to suggest this was true. For eager others, the islands became a grand cause to throw themselves behind. Here, some thought, was a backward country needing help to advance successfully into the modern age as an independent power. Dedicated teachers, eager missionaries, doctors in tropical medicine, American government bureaucrats, and civil engineers arrived in waves to make thisvision a reality. That such a cause also met other unstated desires for adventure, further medical knowledge, religious enthusiasm, employment, and nation building does not diminish the eventual result. Certainly, the quintupled literacy rate during the American control of the islands (Arthur, 11), a ten-year plan for eventual independence, the eradication of smallpox and cholera, and a network of new roads, bridges, and buildings testify to the energy expended.

    Early ideas of the Philippines' strategic importance should not be overlooked, however. Manila Bay was, as both Arthur MacArthur (a general with experience in the Philippines) and later his son Douglas would point out, a large, well-fortified port in the Pacific. Unlike poorly fortified Pearl Harbor in Hawaii, Manila Bay also offered a handy surveillance post from which to keep an eye on a growing and militaristic Japan (Falk, 3).

    The use of the Philippines as the home of strategic military bases seems odd, however, given the strategy evoked repeatedly in the various War College "Plans Orange" and ultimately "Rainbow" scenarios in the 1930s and in early 1940. In these plans drawn up to deal with the (then) hypothetical Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, and afterwards on the Philippines, the planners wrote the Philippines off as indefensible, expecting the military forces there at best to provide a holding action of only six months (Pomeroy, 203; Miller, 54). Once again, American aims seem confused. Given the various versions of Plan Orange, why did the U.S. government first send a retired general, Douglas MacArthur, to serve as adviser, field marshal, and builder of a Philippine army—and then keep him in place? Did he "mesmerize both the War Department and the President" as Miller suggests (56)? After all, on only two occasions had the ability to defend the Philippines successfully ever been accepted even theoretically. The first occurred in 1923. Leonard Wood, former governor-general of the Philippines, made a successful plea to the War Department to revise Plan Orange. He based his argument on the belief that the islands could be defended, given sufficient weaponry and materiel. The second plea came from Wood's protégé, Douglas MacArthur, who repeatedly argued against the "defeatism" of the Orange plans and the defensibility of the Philippines; this resulted ultimately in the Rainbow-5 Plan but with MacArthur's revisions (Miller, 56).

    Perhaps the individualistic MacArthur merely served as a widely publicized symbol of American support for, and belief in, the Philippines' importance. If so, why did the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff then let stand MacArthur's modification to the Orange (and then Rainbow-5) War Plan so that the latter now suggested a complete defense of all the Philippine Islands, not merely Manila Bay—the former something the war planners still considered impossible? Policy crossed and recrossed policy.

    The contradictions are striking, yet the reasons behind them—and their visible results—seem all to have existed at least at certain times to a certain degree. Despite criticism of American exploitation from such historians as William Pomeroy (117-124), the United States did not act like an ordinary tyrannical power. Unlike Great Britain or the Netherlands with Malaya or Java, America's treatment of her colony seemed hesitant, reflecting a strangely reluctant and morally insecure imperialism.

    During this political and military confusion, for the next forty years American citizens in the Philippines went about their business, enjoying the relative wealth all colonials experienced in such places. The missionaries set up schools, hospitals, churches, and youth clubs in terms of their own ideals, rather than those of the populace, and the populace comfortingly appeared (and frequently were) grateful for their efforts, ignoring their stateside parochialism. Miners and lumbermen, performing as foremen and owners, directed Filipino workers and paid what, at the time, were high wages. Most middle-class Americans continued this tranquil life generally undisturbed through the decades until the first bombs dropped on Camp John Hay in northern Luzon in December 1941. As one internee, Karen Lewis, remembers, "In the twinkling of an eye, we had left behind a life of privilege and possessions, a life filled with parties, clubs, and servants. We were pampered, isolated American colonials abroad. Things were about to change" (76).

    To gain some perspective on the radical changes in lifestyle for the future internees, as well as their eventual survival, we need to understand the texture of the lives of Americans before December 8, 1941, when the first bombs fell. We need to explore the curious nature of Filipino-American relations, especially as these had an impact on internees' ability to receive food and help from former servants. Finally, we must also understand the attitude that "Society" held about the validity of a Japanese threat, because that attitude, along with soothing words from officialdom, seems to have influenced the future internees to stay, rather than leave the islands. According to the 1939 census (the last one taken before the war), there were 3,191 Americans living in Manila, and 612 in Baguio to the north (qtd in Halsema, personal communication, May 7, 1997). Between December 25, 1942, and February 23, 1945, allowing for population influx, as well as the number of Americans on other islands, Onorato estimates "over 5,000" Americans were still in the Philippines ready to be interned, though as I have indicated earlier, the number given for civilians varies (ix).

    Initially, why did so many Americans flock over several decades to islands as remote from the United States as the Philippines—and in such numbers, especially with their families? More to the point, why did they stay, once rumors of a coming war circulated? One suspects that the reluctance to leave good jobs and excellent homes clearly played a part. Perhaps the higher standard of living, as well as the fact of having a job in the Great Depression, also had an influence. Many of the Americans in the Philippines had never lived so luxuriously. Most of those whose accounts I use were hardly originally from the leisure class, despite their lifestyle in the Philippines. Money and leisured living complete with servants were easily had in the Philippines on a relatively small salary. Oil company managers, export shipping executives (like Chet Magnuson), sugar refinery officials, mine owners, civil engineers (like Ralph Nash), and lawyers (like Alva Hill) all found a comfortable living on beautiful islands with gracious housing, and usually at least a lavandera and an amah, for what would be a moderate income in the States. A selected few others, such as Alice Bryant's husband, the former governor of Mindanao, had even become wealthy planters (in his case, of coconuts) and had plantations to protect.

    The Great Depression also enticed a number of families to come to the Philippines where blue-collar or skilled labor jobs were more available. Some, such as Bessie Sneed's husband, came because there was a mining boom at the time (Alva Hill, 185). Others, among them educators and missionaries including Esther Hamilton and her friends, came under the auspices of various churches to work to increase all levels of education in the Philippines. Hamilton herself arrived on the islands in 1933 as an employee of the Association of Baptists for World Evangelism; she subsequently taught math for three years at Iloilo, Panay, at the Bible Institute before being reassigned to Manila (Hamilton, 14-15).

    Other families came to exploit the Philippines' natural resources in timber, sugar, rice, minerals, and metals. Elmer Harold and his wife Ethel were one example. He worked as a manager for Benguet Consolidated Mining Company's lumber operations in northern Luzon (Bloom, "Death," 78). Others came to sell equipment to those doing the harvesting or processing.

    Alice Morton Hill, for example, later an internee at Santo Tomás, came to the Philippines with her husband Harry Morton, who worked for International Harvester (Alice Hill, interview). Alva Hill and other lawyers benefited from such mining, processing, exporting, and harvesting operations by serving as the American law firms for these companies. Hill's law firm, Powell and Hill, was one of two American firms on Panay, and it served as the firm for two banks, three sugar centrals, and a variety of American companies selling automobiles, mining supplies, and farm machinery to American planters and mine owners. They also served as legal counsel for a number of wealthy Chinese merchant-exporters (Alva Hill, 185).

    The American community that ultimately faced the Japanese would include not only entrepreneurs in sugar and cattle, mining and textiles, missionaries and teachers, and doctors and nurses but also groups of retired teachers, discharged soldiers (especially from the Spanish-American War and Philippine "Insurrections") who had chosen to stay in the Philippines, as well as junior executives of large American corporations and their families, along with "native" Philippine-born Americans whose parents had settled there years earlier (Onorato, ix).

    Americans were local, social, and financial leaders of the community on all islands, but nowhere more clearly than in Manila, on the island of Luzon. Being an American in the Far East conveyed a host of privileges, some of which young Americans such as Chet and Frieda Magnuson were not quite ready to absorb with a clear head. An American working woman prior to her marriage, Frieda had managed, despite the Great Depression in the United States, to land a job as a secretary for Victory Washing Machine Company, and then later, one in the same capacity at Connell Brothers, a major exporting firm with Manila offices. There she met and later married Chet, and they were assigned to the Manila office where Chet was an executive. The "ordinary" social whirl proved a bit rich for their blood, as Frieda relates:


Earl Anderson was the Manila Connell manager. He and his wife, Kay, and their friends entertained us lavishly and introduced us to the Polo Club, the Army and Navy Club, the historic Manila Hotel, and the practice of signing "chits." Long before plastic credit cards, transactions were handled by merely signing the chit. Any foreigner had instant credit and only a few abused the privilege. We sublet a house complete with cook, houseboy, lavandera and gardener.... The house was on about two acres of beautiful lawn and gardens with huge mango trees. (Magnuson, 29)


    The young Magnusons discovered that their $185 a month salary was comfortable but did not cover quite such high living; they abandoned chits and moved into a much smaller house—one actually located in the garden of their first house (Magnuson, 30).

    H. A. Burgers, another former resident of this American paradise, describes a typical evening at Luneta Park on Manila Bay, the notes of a band concert hanging in the air above the park and a cooling breeze coming in across the bay: "Twilight fades rapidly in the Tropics, and by the time the last strains of the national anthem floated over the bared heads of the crowd standing at attention, the clear sky would fill with brilliant stars. The Southern Cross would be plainly visible" (31).

    For many Americans, then, daily life was frequently leisurely and pleasing. The schedule Stanley Karnow offers for the average male American Manileño, based on the model given by both the British and Americans in the early part of the century, appears largely unchanged even in memoirs and retrospectives of later periods, though increasingly less British as time passed. The Americans rose early and went to their offices in the morning, had lunch, and afterward took a siesta during the heat of the day. After siesta, men returned to work briefly, quitting at 4:00 or 5:00 P.M. A mixed social crowd of such men, their wives, friends, and acquaintances would probably go then to one of the clubs in town, especially the Polo Club or the Army and Navy Club. After drinks at the club (usually at sunset), the Americans would go to dinner at someone's house and then amuse themselves with bridge, opera, movies, theater, or a cabaret. Following these entertainments, favorite places, including Tom Prichard's "Dixie Kitchen," open night and day and home of the best southern-style American dishes, might host the après-play or concert goers (Karnow, 211; Gleeck, 233-234).

    Another future internee, Martha Hill, Alva Hill's wife, also describes the leisurely, bucolic, and richly beautiful life of a colonial middle-class American in the prewar Philippines. Such a life of comfort and ease was not restricted to life in the big city or the island of Luzon. Prior to living in Manila, the Hills had lived for a long time in Iloilo on Panay. Martha Hill describes the tranquil tenor of life there with their two sons in a poem, "Iloilo Garden," commemorating an Edenic existence. She speaks of her


Green-gold garden Shut in by a glowing wall Of wine-plumed bougainvillea And gay hibiscus tall


The garden yields a peaceful and richly abundant splendor with "sun-flecked paths" and "great, cool trees" and "lawns gold-washed with light" (Martha Hill, 5). Other poems speak of watching her sons, browned and healthy, swimming in rock pools and sliding down rock slide falls. This was the graceful life of country gentry or what passed for that class on the islands. As Alva Hill describes it, life for middle-class American couples on most of the islands was primarily characterized by elaborate social gatherings:


Dinner parties are a favorite indoor sport, with cocktail parties a close second. The women invariably wear long dresses, and the men, white jackets. Bridge, poker, and mahjong parties are also popular. Ladies' afternoon bridge usually begins with an elaborate tea at 4:00 P.M., and continues until 7:00 P.M. Many of the men go to their clubs for tennis, or handball, or swimming after office hours. In many homes dinner is not served before 8:00. (Alva Hill, 126)


    Baguio, in northern Luzon at the 4,291-foot level and nearly 200 miles from Manila, was not only a wonderful place to escape the draining summer heat but a truly American town—one built early in the century, according to Karnow, to be an American town. In keeping with the generalized American model for "summer houses" back in the United States, Baguio offered a series of large gabled houses whose huge front lawns "might have been [part of] a resort in the Berkshires or upstate New York" (Karnow, 215).

    Chartered in 1909 and designed by the famous architect and city planner William Cameron Forbes and his uncle Malcolm, Baguio had originally been intended to serve as the government's "summer capital." This concept was soon crushed, however, by the Filipino legislature in 1913, which refused to consider a site so far from Manila and so extravagant as any kind of capital and cut off support (Halsema, "E. J.," 166; 169). Stripped of its quasi-official function, Baguio still remained for Manileños and guests the fashionable place to go—enough so that there was even a minor social "season" during April and May. Teachers, civil servants and their families, invalids (especially with tuberculosis), and occasional government officials and their families enjoyed this small town's climate and amenities (Halsema, "E. J.," 172-174).

    Baguio sported a number of amusements for its residents and their Filipino associates. Saturday night formal dances and Sunday "lunches" vied with golf at the country club—and in Baguio, unlike in Manila, wealthy Filipinos were club members as early as 1910 (Karnow, 215).

    The town itself boasted more amenities than did many small towns in America at the same time. Due in many cases to the creative and unrelenting efforts of Baguio's long-time mayor and city engineer, E. J. Halsema, Baguio featured sturdy, well-designed paved roads, running water from a gravity-fed reservoir, sewage disposal, cheap electricity, street lighting, a wide public market square, an ice plant (and hence refrigeration), a public school open to both American and Filipino children, telegraph service and mail delivery, and by the beginning of the war, telephone service and a small airfield (Halsema, "E. J.," 179-185; 201-202).

    In both Baguio and Manila middle-class American wives had a leisured routine of dinner dances, bridge games, and elaborate children's birthday parties. The more usual slings and arrows of ordinary life—pregnancies, unwelcome visitors, meal planning, child-rearing, volunteer work with the Red Cross, and boorish dinner guests—also punctuated the year. With a staff consisting usually of at least a houseboy and a cook to keep meals prepared, the floors waxed, the airy houses cleaned, and the mess under control, with Filipina nannies to look after and amuse the very youngest children, and with the older children often boarding at a school such as Brent in Baguio, many of these American women had time to fill as they chose, often recreationally. Tennis, swimming, and boating are mentioned in several diaries, as is shopping in downtown Manila. This leisurely life spelled trouble to some men, as Margaret Sams records amusingly about her husband-to-be's Uncle Pat, a Philippine old-timer who believed: "The Philippine Islands were no place for a white woman.... They all took to bridge tables, drink and amahs" (Sams, 32).

    Natalie Crouter is an excellent example of the life led by an ordinary American woman. A former Bostonian, she was the wife of a Shell station lessee who eventually hired a manager so he could run his highly profitable insurance business in Baguio. Natalie Crouter's household staff consisted of Ishmael and Nida Bacani, the Filipino cook and amah, respectively, who did all the domestic work and cooking, as well as the laundry and gardening. The Crouter children "like other American children in Baguio attended the Episcopalian-run Brent school" and were therefore not underfoot. Natalie, in Bloom's words, had a "busy social life" and enjoyed activities as varied as bridge, mahjong, little theater, and parties, as well as spending time preparing the socially obligatory Red Cross parcels of old clothes, baby garments, and towels—many of which Nida Bacani helped sew and hem (Bloom, "Introduction," xvii; xv).

    Many Baguio and Manila resident Americans were not originally reared in wealth. As Alva Hill explains, many of the Americans suddenly sporting houseboys, cooks, and lavanderas "[were] often people who never had hired-help at home, and perhaps did their own washing, ate in the kitchen, and never heard of a siesta or a canape" (Alva Hill, 122).

    Margaret Sams, like Frieda Magnuson and Grace Nash, is an example of this. Sams grew up in the small California town of Beaumont and worked to put herself through two years of college at Riverside Junior College before the war (Sams, 25; 29-30); she, like Bessie Sneed, came to the Philippines because of her husband Bob Sherk's job in mining—Sherk was a mine-shifter in a gold mine in Suyoc, northern Luzon (Sams, 32; 39-40).

    Nor was Grace Nash wealthy, though she served on occasion as assistant concertmistress for the Manila Symphony or as a featured soloist. Grace Nash grew up on a small farm in Ohio, with a father who ran an insurance office and a mother who raised four children on a farm. Nash herself graduated from a small college with a B.A. in music and taught music in the Cleveland public schools briefly. Then she began studying for (and received) an M.A. in violin and composition at Chicago Musical College while putting herself through graduate school partly by scholarship and by working as a strolling violinist in the Chicago Bar and Grille (Nash, 1-3). She came to the Philippines to be married. Her husband, Ralph, worked as an engineer for a company with a large branch office in Manila (Nash, 6; 9).

    None of the three women had lived a life characterized by servants before coming to the Phillipines, though Magnuson, Sams, and Nash were generally well educated (each had some college or a degree) and reared as members of the middle class. These women, as were hundreds of other Americans in the Philippines, were only temporarily "leisured" due to a geographical accident. Most of them knew how to cook and had done their own housework at some point in their lives, and all had been working women for a time. They also could perform such mundane activities as sewing, childcare, and cleaning—and indeed did not find it demeaning to do so. This background and the flexibility to switch back to a more laborious life are among the main reasons Lynn Bloom believes the women—and men too—survived life in internment. As Bloom points out, this adaptability and the American "do-it-yourself" pioneer spirit helped determine the Americans' response to harsh conditions and their ability to survive those conditions (Bloom, "Death," 77).

    It would be too easy to see what happened to these "comfortable" Americans as a kind of morality play judgment on those with too many of life's resources suddenly forced to cope with life the way the "other half" lived—especially their servants. Some critics, especially those writing about the British internments following the fall of Singapore, have in fact struck this note about the British colonials. The American colonial situation was even more complex than that of the British, however, and harder to symbolize or judge.

    Despite the earlier insurrection at the turn of the century and the Philippine Scout Mutiny in the 1920s, relations between the Philippines and the United States remained relatively harmonious, especially after the Tydings-McDuffie Bill formalized the Philippines Commonwealth status in 1934 (Petillo, 167-168). Because of a general uneasiness with imperialism, Americans in the Philippines tended to be less overtly racist than the British or the Dutch. For example, though clubs in Manila, such as the Elks, the Army-Navy Club, the Manila Club and golf course, as well as the Polo Club "were largely or entirely segregated," other clubs were not so restricted. Among the more liberal clubs were the Wack Wack Country Club in Mandaluyong, the Masons (established in 1898; both Filipino and American lodges combined in 1917), the Rotary Club, and all the women's charitable organizations. Some, like the Wack Wack Country Club, were established to provide "a specific expression of anti-segregationist sentiment" and to serve as "a pre-war symbol of Filipino-American socializing" (Karnow, 72-73; 239-240). Even the Polo Club dropped its overt color barrier in 1936 when it admitted President Manuel Quezon to honorary membership (213).

    The Manila Rotary Club, with its approximately 200 members, is a strong example of the kind of clubs in Manila and elsewhere that continue to have open—and cosmopolitan—membership. H. A. Burgers, a former member, remembers that


No other club in the city even remotely resembled Rotary membership. Perhaps half the members were Filipinos, leaders of their people in the professional and business world. The remaining were Americans, Spaniards, Englishmen, Scots, Chinese, Japanese, Germans, Frenchmen, Indians, and many other nationalities. Behind the President's table was a stand containing the flags of countries represented in the Club. I once counted 15 there. (32)


Alva Hill, both a Rotarian and a Mason, concurs with Burgers, explaining that as late as 1941, even Japanese members continued to be admitted to the Rotary (Alva Hill, 241).

    In Baguio some institutions were integrated but not all. Brent School, for example, restricted its membership to Caucasians—excluding even mestizos (Karnow, 215); thanks to Mayor E. J. Halsema, however, an unrestricted public elementary school (Baguio Central School) was built in 1923. He also supported the city's decision in 1926 not only to subsidize but also to hire four more teachers to improve the faltering Mountain Province High School (Halsema, "E. J.," 202).

    On the island of Negros, however, Filipino and American social groups had limited but integrated contact. Vaughan explains, "At frequent intervals afternoon teas brought together white and Filipino women who played mahjong and enjoyed refreshments without self-consciousness. Filipino and American women exchanged courtesy calls, but the intimacy stopped there" (Vaughan, "Community," 16). Vaughan also points out that Filipino men, along with American men and some British, played golf together at the integrated Bacolod Golf Club, nor were public entertainments and services—movies, restaurants, and transportation—segregated (Vaughan, "Community," 16; 20; 25).

    The segregated facilities that did exist throughout the islands, according to Gleeck, were not so much an expression of racial animus in the Philippines as they were examples of a cultural clash and a class bias. As he points out, "Filipinos and Americans, ate different foods at different times, seasoned and prepared them differently, and Filipino and American styles of eating, drinking, schooling, religious observance and socializing were different" (239).

    Carlos Romulo, former newspaper tycoon and later aide to MacArthur, as well as former president of the Manila Rotary Club (Burgers, 33), contrasts his view of American freedom to the more restrictive, racist, and limiting attitudes he found in his exploratory tour of the Far East, especially those of Indonesia, Hong Kong, and Burma, the year before the war. White racism and its social components were distressingly evident to him: "Everywhere in the Orient I met [al law of universal disrespect to the native." He cites especially the "typical" case of an Indonesian girl—a graduate of Barnard—who was not allowed inside the front door of the Hotel de Indes in Batavia (Jakarta)because of her race. Romulo notes that the girl became loudly pro-Japanese after the incident, because she resented such repeated and ordinary social humiliations. He claims to have seen more of the same in Hong Kong and Burma as well as in Singapore at the Raffles Hotel (Romulo, 5-6; 19-20). Romulo tried, he said, to explain to the Burmese and the Javanese, as well as to other colonial people, the atrocities the Japanese were committing in China, but they refused to listen to or believe him; the temptation of an "Asian Co-Prosperity Sphere" was great: "I gave these reports of Japanese atrocities [in China] to people I met in Burma and Java, but the natives who opened their hearts to me as a fellow Oriental insisted that any change would be better than their exploitation by their [current] masters" (Romulo, 17).

    As Karnow explains, Americans did not see their attitudes as racist. They did, in fact, pride themselves on their integration of Filipinos into the government, the civil service, and even some of their clubs. The problem for many later commentators, especially those including William Pomeroy who are admirers of the Huk movement, was that the Filipinos the Americans did include were primarily the ilustrados, the wealthy intelligentsia, who had held land and power since the Spanish had controlled the islands. Carlos Romulo undoubtedly found the American presence liberal, because he was one of those who was included. This is partly why many believe the American treatment of the Filipinos seems more classist than racist; we remember, for example, that the first Filipino admitted to the Polo Club was Philippine president Manuel Quezon—hardly a nobody either by birth or by office.

    Despite their somewhat more liberal treatment of the populace, the United States' class-bound error resulted ultimately in a sometimes corrupt Filipino government. According to Karnow, the ilustrados unfortunately were the worst class to choose for an initial democratic experiment in the Philippines: "The landowners and entrepreneurial classes naturally recoiled from economic and social reforms that would have curbed their prerogatives, preferring instead to preserve a feudal system—even though it perpetuated and even widened the shocking gap between wealth and poverty" (15). As even Gleeck agrees, the conflict between rich and poor in the islands was not so much between Filipinos and Americans as it was between rich and poor Filipinos. Gleeck points out, "There were rich Americans, but none so rich as the wealthy Filipinos" (240).

    Rich or not, Filipinos did actually serve in their own government. The Filipino legislature, established in 1907, was the first such "native" body in Asia. Furthermore, Filipinos also served as architects, engineers, teachers, army officers in the Philippine Scouts, ministers, foremen, bureaucrats, members of the city council, and as various officials. This seems evident from Mayor Halsema's council with its two elected Filipino positions, the building projects in Baguio, as well as the nature of the staffs of companies such as Ralph Nash's, which featured Filipino managers.

    This desire on the part of the Americans both to train the population to take over the bureaucracy and to use local labor wherever possible contrasted sharply with earlier Spanish policies, as well as those in other countries in the Far East. The Spanish had discouraged the Philippine middle class and refused to make any basic reforms (Arthur, 11), though Pomeroy would argue that the United States hardly did so either, given its fondness for the elite.

    Americans hoped to "transition" the Filipinos into self-government in approximately ten years—the job originally to be accomplished by 1946, the stated date of Philippine Independence (Miller, 26). The American preference for cultured, cosmopolitan, English-speaking ilustrados in the government and America's inability to create a fully effective, impartial administration in the Philippines made democratic government—at least at the bureaucratic level—something of a pipe dream. Thanks to class privilege and bias, the average Filipino was unable to get regular administrative help through the inefficient bureaucratic channels and so fell back on patronage to get what he or she needed. The compadre (or ritual relative) network, in place since the Spanish rule and now expanded to include employers and their families, guaranteed a de facto government by special interest for clients in exchange for votes from the network the next time that politician came up for elective office. Pomeroy adds, quoting Renato Constantino, that the ilustrados eventually and naturally waltzed into an easy collaboration with the Japanese, because their cooperation would, it seemed, continue to maintain this elite's powerful status—one that literally fostered corruption (Pomeroy, 117; Karnow, 13; 20-22). This in turn led to a certain well-placed cynicism on the part of both reformers and agitators about the "democratic" experiment, though Karnow strikes perhaps the proper note: "Ultimately, the American experiment in the Philippines was neither as brilliant as their publicists claimed nor as bleak as their critics contended. They never quite fulfilled their hope of transforming the Filipinos into facsimile Americans. But in contrast to the Europeans, they were uniquely benign, almost sentimental imperialists" (Karnow, 13).

    Glenn May concurs to some extent. In his highly critical discussion of Philippine "nationalist" history as practiced in the past and currently by Renato Constantino, May rejects the automatic standard vilification of U.S. policy in the Philippines. Although he does not suggest a blindly favorable review of colonial policy, he deplores the Constantino strategy of denouncing anything colonial, whether Spanish or American, without regard to the effects of more complex economic, political, and especially social issues (May, 20-21). He explains both his own and Karnow's point again in a 1990 review of the latter's book; May praises Karnow's interpretative skill and his scholarship, noting the book caught the essence of the American attempt to recast the Philippines into mock-American form, as well as that attempt's sometimes laudable aims but disappointing results (May, "Review," 326)

    Ultimately, perhaps, at least the attempt to transition some Filipinos into self-rule—this earnest effort, as McKinley said, to "do what we could" for the Filipinos in the form of engineering projects, health, education, and representative government, as well as trying to provide a more liberal racial atmosphere—was partly responsible for later Filipino attitudes toward captured Americans. Filipino guerrillas, spies, ex-servants, and ordinary citizens smuggled the prisoners food, medicine, possessions, and hard currency, though Pomeroy suggests that this was simply a function of Filipino anti-Fascism, not pro-Americanism (124).

    Pomeroy cites the PKP Partido Komunista ng Pilipinas and the "12 point memo" they sent December 8, 1941, to President Quezon and U.S. High Commissioner Francis B. Sayre as support for this contention. In the memo the PKP called for "all-out support to national unity around an Anti-Japanese United front" and urged "all people and all strata of the population" to "organize, secretly if necessary, to assist the Philippine and American government to resist Japan." Pomeroy thereby tries to account for the obviously sympathetic attitudes of all social classes of Filipinos toward Americans by suggesting the former are merely responding to an indigenous call to arms ironically made by the communists, rather than by the ilustrados (Pomeroy, 124).

    However the paternalistic and exploitative relations may have seemed to Marxist historians and modern eyes, it is obvious that the majority of Filipinos did not regard the American presence in that light, or the kind of spontaneous (and dangerous) help offered to prisoners would never have existed. Filipino civilians were frequently beaten or even shot for throwing food to American as well as Filipino prisoners, for example, during the notorious Bataan Death March; Filipinos were cuffed, kicked, and sometimes arrested for bringing food to slip through the gates illegally at Santo Tomás. Such acts of bravery and self-sacrifice suggest a much more complex relationship between servants and their former employers, locals, and colonials than many revisionist historians (Constantino and Pomeroy especially) have suggested, especially in light of possible compadre complications of feeling.

    Confirmation of the generally strong regard throughout the war between American and Philippine citizens comes from an even more unlikely source. Tetsuro Ogawa, a civilian Japanese teacher attached during the war to the Imperial Japanese Army in the Philippines in northern Luzon, points out in his memoirs that, unlike the Burmese and Indonesians, the Filipinos "had been satisfied with American democracy and the civilization which huge American capital had introduced." He also points out, with some pain, that the Japanese, unlike the Spanish, who brought religion, or the Americans, who brought education, brought nothing and "the newcomer [the Japanese] ... was all for taking what little the people had or could produce" (Ogawa, 32).

    The previously mentioned American educational effort in the islands seems to be the most prominent reason given repeatedly for the relatively more successful American colonial experience in the Philippines. With both lay teachers and religious teachers arriving almost daily for the two decades before the war, the most remote villages had resonated to the ABCs chanted aloud and had seen arithmetic problems drawn and solved in the dust, if no blackboards presented themselves. As Bloom points out, the general friendliness of the population toward American residents was certainly buoyed by the continuing establishment of a variety of schools—from primary through university level. Various American organizations founded many colleges, including the University of the Philippines (Bloom, "Introduction," xv-xvi). Such groups also established the Central Philippine University, a Baptist college on Panay, Silliman University, and a Presbyterian college on Negros, among others (Alva Hill, 207).

    Schooling for Filipino children—especially higher education—was a favorite charitable project for Americans who had lived in the islands for many years, according to both Hill and Esther Hamilton. Residents of the Philippines for thirty or forty years, men such as Mike Ryan and Col. Von Schaick regularly paid the private school expenses of a variety of Philippine children. Hill notes, "The sincerity and cordiality of such `old-timers' are so genuine that there is little wonder that so many Filipinos took their bolos to the hills and became fighting guerrillas to help win World War II" (Alva Hill, 281).

    But schools were not the only visible improvement Americans attempted to bring with them to the Philippines. Anthony Arthur explains that


Benefits that the United States had conferred ... were also considerable. Except for those remote areas in the South where only Stone Age tribes and head-hunters lived, public health officers had cleansed the islands of typhoid and cholera. Teams of civil engineers had built commercial docks, railroads, highways, and sewer systems.... A middle class of Filipino managers who would eventually run the country had been created [also] as a deliberate matter of United States policy. (Arthur, 11)


    The growing racial tensions existed not between the majority of Philippine citizens and Americans so much as between both of those groups and the Japanese present on the islands. Immediately after the December 8, 1941 (Philippines time), bombing, American and Philippine authorities placed all Japanese inhabitants on those islands with sizable Japanese populations in internment camps (Halsema, "Oral," 18, n5). The Japanese on Luzon were placed in the Philippine Scouts' barracks in Baguio or on the outskirts of Manila. On Cebu 250 Japanese internees spent almost two weeks in the provincial jail in Cebu City and then were re-interned in a school three kilometers away (Corbett, 50-52). On Mindanao at Davao, Japanese internees were placed in what Frank Cary, an American living in town and soon to be interned himself, called "improvised concentration camps" (2).

    In the latter case, treatment was atrocious—but this apparently was primarily the fault of the Philippine Constabulary in charge of the Davao internees. After two Japanese air raids the Filipino policemen fired on the internment camp point-blank, killing five internees. The first day of the actual invasion of the island, Filipino guards stabbed another five. In all cases the worst incidents with the Japanese interned in the Philippines were perpetrated by the local constabulary (Corbett, 52). Ultimately, American internees would be interned at Camp John Hay in the same cells in which they had previously locked up local civilian Japanese. Natalie Crouter confirms this when she mentions that one of the first invasion sounds she and her husband heard in Baguio was the roar of "Banzai!" as Japanese soldiers released their interned fellow nationals on December 27, 1941 (Hamilton, 37; Crouter, 11).

    Others, including Alva Hill, discuss the general distrust of the Japanese as spies even earlier than the Baguio internment. Hill explains that "for many years prior to our internment, the intention of the Japanese eventually to seize the Philippines was obvious ... practically every inlet and gulf, every seashore, every mountain and mine, every forest and natural resource" was explored and reported to the "Japanese warlords" back in Japan (Alva Hill, 296).

    Hill cites a specific suspicious incident that confirmed to him this silent conspiracy on the part of the Japanese government. Hill was requested as a lawyer by a local timber owner, Mrs. McQuaid, who wanted her timber contract with Sisi Matsui, a Japanese businessman, enforced. After some verbal jousting, Matsui agreed to advance the funds to pay for the government's accumulated internal revenue forest charges and all other charges for past labor (as he had agreed to earlier) but only on the condition that he be permitted to keep one Japanese national at the sawmill. Matsui, however, ultimately refused to advance the necessary money and sent "several" Japanese nationals to the woods after he signed the contract. Hill eventually made a trip to Matsui's office to try to get him to comply with the agreement. Whether he did or not, Hill's narrative highlights the suspicious activity in which Hill found Matsui engaged: "I noticed him working over a large roll of coast and geodetic maps which at the time were for sale to anyone wishing to buy them. When I entered the room, he called me to the table where the maps were spread out, and urged me to show the locations of various manganese mines of my clients [a key ingredient in armaments]. I did not give him the correct information" (Alva Hill, 291-292).

    The American guerrilla leader Iliff David Richardson told war correspondent Ira Wolfert that it was very likely that such fears as Hill's were justified. According to Richardson, the Japanese who served as clerks and minor functionaries at many large offices and plants were often fifth columnists of a sort once the war started. Whether this was planned by Tokyo, Richardson doesn't speculate. He does mention that several Japanese officers he encountered, such as Captain Gidoka, were formerly employees of American companies; he also discusses what he calls their "pathological hatred" for whites in general and Americans in particular (Wolfert, 94). Other scholars such as Gavin Daws would support his notion, pointing out the racism of the Japanese toward all other races (179).

    The flamboyant Carlos Romulo, however, is more specific in his accusations about spies. He discusses "massive Japanese espionage activity" in the Philippines prior to the war and cites bars around military bases as prime hangouts for picking up useful information from relaxed and intoxicated American soldiers. He also claims that many of the finest propagandists in the Far East and especially in the Philippines either were, or traveled as, Buddhist monks. He discusses as well growing patterns of huts being built immediately outside the gates of American military bases and communications stations that served quick food and drink; a brewery, he claims, actually concealed a radio station that ultimately guided in Japanese war planes (Romulo, 20; 34-35).

    Was a huge, almost invisible network of potential Japanese fifth columnists in place throughout the Philippines? Certainly, there was a strong Japanese presence on all the major islands just before December 8, especially around Davao, which had the largest immigrant Japanese population. Despite this—and Romulo's fears—given the ferocity of Philippine resistance to Japanese control during the war, this placement of hostile nationals was perhaps less substantial or their position less influential than both Wolfert and Romulo suggest, though ordinary professional people such as Hill and Romulo considered seriously the possibility that the Japanese were mapping out and spying on the Philippines for a possible invasion.

    Before the war Americans in the Philippines seemed of two minds about any Japanese threat, however. One of the many internee complaints against the government after the war was the seeming lack of official interest or warning prior to December 8, 1941, even when civilians asked officials point-blank whether there was any danger. Official agencies (such as the high commissioner's office) and military authorities (including MacArthur's staff) appeared to ignore the immediate possibility of an invasion or hostile Japanese action of any kind. When concerned citizens (such as the newly formed American Coordinating Committee) tried to voice their suspicions and worries about a possible Japanese invasion, their fears were brushed off and their worries dismissed. For example, Hill and his friends were suspicious about sales of Philippine ore to Japanese clients. Hill contacted military authorities on behalf of his clients "to ascertain whether or not sales of manganese, copper, and iron ore should be made to the Japanese." His worries were dismissed somewhat scornfully, and he was told repeatedly that the United States was at peace with Japan—certainly the sales should be finalized (Alva Hill, 292).

    Carlos Romulo's discussion of the officials'—and Douglas MacArthur's—perceptions of a coming war seems remarkably inconsistent, even given the wartime publication date of (and censored sentences in) Romulo's book. Indeed, in his use of telling detail, Romulo seems to be covertly criticizing both MacArthur and the U.S. government. For example, Romulo insists that two months prior to December 8, it was "evident" that the United States intended to "show a firm hand to Japan" by appointing MacArthur as commander in chief of the U.S. Armed Forces in the Far East. He also speaks indirectly of the "evacuation of American women" from the Philippines (by which he seems to mean the military dependents, given the hundreds of civilian women that were interned) and of an "arms embargo and the cessation of the sale of oil to Japan" (Romulo, 2-3). How curious, yet damning, it is for him to note two weeks prior to Pearl Harbor that no camouflage preparations had been taken in Manila, unlike extensive ones in Batavia, even though MacArthur believed a war was coming; vividly, Romulo gives a view from the air of a vulnerable Manila: "Our churches, our legislative building, our post office, our new city hall stood out like targets in the city below" (Romulo, 27). He goes on to mourn the fact that "only a few anti-aircraft guns" were deployed around the city—and those had been put up solely at the personal order of Colonel William Marquet (Romulo, 68). In his book, Romulo lauds the foresight and acuity of Douglas MacArthur repeatedly but then continues to slip in details that suggest a very different assessment. Despite his plaudits to MacArthur's resolution, for example, Romulo elegizes the so-called "Pearl of the Orient," Manila, left "unprotected and unprepared" on December 9, 1941, waiting later for wave after wave of enemy planes to bomb it beyond recognition (Romulo, 30). One wonders why Manila was so unprepared and why better military defensive measures hadn't been taken. Romulo's book seems intended to raise such questions, just as it helps explain, perhaps, at least one reason why so many American women and children were still in the Philippines when the war broke out. If even a "field marshal" and commander in chief, paid, as Lawrence Taylor reports, the highest professional soldier's salary in the world at the time ($33,000 per annum) for "his services as a military advisor" to the Philippine government (Taylor, 21-22), can misjudge a situation, how much more likely are ordinary men and women to do so?

    Claire Phillips, for example, returned to Manila from the United States with her infant daughter in September 1941 to stay, even though American authorities were urging American military wives and children to leave only a month after her arrival (Corbett, 15). Though the American high commissioner and the State Department both made provisions for military dependents, according to Corbett, as far as American civilian women and children were concerned, the authorities "kept [their] warnings low key so as not to give the Japanese government reason to believe that the United States was clearing the decks for war" (16). Other factions at the State Department also wanted the civilians to remain to prevent the Philippine government from regarding a mass civilian evacuation as both a betrayal by the United States and a negative statement about the army's ability to protect the populace, as well as to avoid lowering morale (Keats, 12; Corbett, 10-20).

    Another problem, which indirectly affected the civilian dependents, resulted from a bureaucratic power struggle going on inside the State Department itself. The "Special Division" had been set up in September 1939 specifically "to deal with the problems of Americans abroad in troubled areas," including attempting to formulate specific procedures and policies to help them if they were stranded in a foreign country when war broke out (Corbett, 9-10). Two obstacles to removing American civilians from the Philippines immediately presented themselves: First, the competing Far East Division of the State Department was opposed to the early warning and removal of American civilians; and second, Breckenridge Long of the State Department's Special Division had an obsession with thriftiness in regard to his department's expenditures.

    The Far East Division showed its muscle early on in the squabble with the Special Division by blocking the latter's attempts to warn civilians to relocate as soon as possible. In fact, thanks to the Far East Division, what few warnings the State Department sent out for Americans to leave even Japan itself in February 1941 were "quieted down" and made into mere "advice." Other Americans in Asia during the spring of 1941 received only "suggestions" and "advice" as well. Americans in both Singapore and Batavia, as well as those in the Philippines, were not urged to leave, because, again, the move might be awkward from a public relations perspective and the presence of many American civilians "had a calming effect" on the local people (Corbett, 14-19). The Far East Division triumphantly trumped the Special Division's plans repeatedly with the result that High Commissioner Francis B. Sayre found it necessary to play down and even deny the danger when Americans directly questioned him about the wisdom of leaving the islands (Bloom, "Introduction," xvii).

    Their worries about "appearances," however, were somewhat inconsistent, especially regarding the missionaries. In early fall of 1941 the State Department did approach "several religious denominations and [asked] them to furlough their missionaries back home or at least encourage them to send families back" (Corbett, 20). The State Department never made clear why it chose to warn the clergy and not the others. Indeed, at least according to one missionary, Mary Ogle, she received no warning from anyone; instead, she was told to relocate in Baguio, because "it would be the safest place in the whole Far East"—and the U.S. Army gave her this advice, not any member of the State Department, nor did Seventh Day Adventist officials call her back to the United States (128). Given the number of missionaries in the Philippines whom the Japanese eventually interned, the warning either didn't reach its intended religious audience or the people chose not to listen to it.

    Long's stinginess with the State Department (and especially his division's) money was another reason many civilians may have been unable to leave. He flatly refused (generally speaking) to pay the passage back for those who were stranded without funds. As he explained, "it was not the State Department's responsibility to bail out stranded Americans financially"; rather, these unfortunates would only be loaned money if they could prove that family, friends, and employers in the United States "refused" to loan them the passage money; furthermore, this refusal had to be filed in writing with the Special Division through official channels so that the Special Division could "verify" the need for the loan (Corbett, 12). Corbett explains that this "cumbersome process would later handcuff efforts to extricate Americans from Asia" during the war itself (12). Elizabeth Vaughan claims that this practice did continue even after the war, noting that she was forced by the U.S. government to pay for her own and her two children's passage back from internment to the continental United States (March 10, 1945, 303).

    The way in which the American civilians in the Philippines viewed the reality of a Japanese threat was another part of the reason, it seems, that the civilians were not overtly alarmed.

    Phillips, as did many others, saw that corporate wives and children were staying, as were government officials' wives, and decided that the talk of war with Japan was "newspaper talk." All appearances to the contrary were mere "bluff," because the Japanese had more sense than to consider going to war with the mighty U.S. military (Phillips, 1-2).

    Frieda Magnuson records much the same evaluation of the situation. Though originally scheduled to take her daughter and depart on the President Hoover in April 1941 (leaving her husband, Chet, behind), Frieda canceled the trip, pointing out that the High Commissioner's staff was staying, as were wives from Standard Oil, Chartered City Bank, and other companies. Besides, she records, "The Japanese wouldn't dare attack U.S. territory!" (Magnuson, 32-33).

    A gold miner in northern Luzon, William Moule, concurs generally. Asking an American Army Air Corps officer about the "threat" of the Japanese, Moule reports that the officer jauntily dismissed such fears: "Well, confidentially ... we have twenty-seven bombers and PBYs and personally I believe it's more than we need. The Japs have no first-class planes and no pilots" (Moule, 38). Another officer was equally vehement and told Moule that the Japanese army had "nothing" and he'd seen them in China. "They can't fight. They're crazy," he said (38).

    Small wonder then that common speculation prior to the war generally regarded the threat of Japanese bombing as highly unlikely. Thanks to common earlier knowledge of the initial problems lining up targets that the Japanese experienced in Chunking because of defective bombing sights, Romulo notes, "We all agreed that the Japanese aviators were poor marksmen," and discounted their aggressive abilities because of this supposed technological impairment, when placed in conflict with a "modern" Western nation.

    After all he'd heard, Moule himself ceased being particularly worried about the Japanese:


I firmly believed Japan wouldn't, couldn't and dared not ever go to war with such a country as the U.S.A. So help me, when the news came, I actually felt sorry for Japan—a small nation, her air force falling apart in the sky, her navy being run down and sunk, those Japanese soldiers fighting with obsolete guns and swords, about to be slaughtered without a chance. I thought if the U.S. wanted to be chivalrous, she could put just an equal amount of men and material against Japan and make it more of a fight. (38)


His pity for the Japanese is particularly ironic, because these were the same "ineffective" Japanese who interned him as early as December 1941 and later quite efficiently tortured him. For those at Pearl Harbor earlier and at Cavite, Nichols Field, and Davao later, the soothing stereotype of a myopic Japanese pilot with buckteeth and Coke-bottle glasses, staring hopelessly down unaligned bombsights, proved blisteringly false.

    All of these reasons—the State Department squabbles, the duplicity of U.S. officials, the lack of resources to leave, misjudgment of the Japanese threat, and the desire to stay with family—became intertwined in most civilian decisions. Grace Nash's case is something of an exemplar for the others, though she was clearly more aware than other civilians that the Japanese posed a threat. Similar to Frieda Magnuson, who refused to leave on the President Hoover, Nash also didn't want to leave her husband alone to face whatever tragedy might occur—and her husband, too, refused to leave his work. Nash records her struggle with her apprehensions; unlike her friends, she believed that Japan might very well attack, and there was a good chance it would survive the effort. She did not fit well with her more optimistic and jingoistic comrades who didn't want to admit to such a possibility:


I was in the minority; almost an outcast in the conversations. I had a gut feeling, without any facts, figures, geographical knowledge to back it up. I just felt that war was coming; that the islands were defenseless. Like most Americans in business in Manila, Ralph's company was doing very well. He was involved with new engineering projects for the government. This was not the time to pick up and leave, he said. (Nash, 15)


Grace couldn't bear to leave him alone and take the boys back to the United States. She is remarkably honest about her reasons, noting that she refused to face the "truth" that "Ralph was more married to his work and his company than to me!" and that, despite the dangerous times, he seemed more dedicated to his career advancement than to his family's safety. Also, she notes, she felt guilty "over the thought of leaving him to face destruction and even death without us. I couldn't bring myself to leave" (Nash, 15-16). After all, no one else seemed concerned, especially neither officialdom nor the military. As a navy captain told her at a cocktail party on the evening of December 5 (three days, Philippines time, before the raid on Pearl Harbor), the Japanese would never bomb an American installation: "Why we could finish off their navy over the weekend!" he blustered (Nash, 16).

    And why should Phillips, Magnuson, Moule, and Nash have believed otherwise really? Certainly, the handful of women and children urged to leave earlier were a highly selected group; civilians observing military wives leaving may well have not taken alarm because they were used to them being transferred and moved regularly. The military, after all, had its own logic, its own rules that civilians never understood. Additionally, Douglas MacArthur had regularly written pieces for both prominent publications and radio broadcast that were distinctly upbeat about how small a threat war would be to the Philippines. In the late 1930s, for example, he wrote a strong article for the Christian Science Monitor explaining how easily and successfully the islands themselves could be defended. After all, the job for which MacArthur was hired in 1935 was as military adviser to the Commonwealth government, one who would help establish a Philippine National Defense and train an army (Taylor, 17-19; Falk, 2-3). As of July 26, 1941, the Philippine army, such as it was (more name than substance), was "inducted into" the U.S. Army by presidential order, raising the number of troops officially to 100,000 (Schaller, 48). The majority of these troops were raw and barely trained, as well as generally illiterate; many did not even speak a common language. Further, they were armed (if at all) with mostly obsolete weapons. Despite this, MacArthur "expressed only confidence in his command." Falk adds, "Although most of the Philippine Army was barely capable of minimal operations, let alone defeating a seasoned foe, his [MacArthur's] reports to Washington spoke only of progress and increasing strength" (3).

    And so the public—or large sections of it—watched the high commissioner's office and its personnel in the calm belief that nothing seriously could imperil the Philippines. Even after the news of Pearl Harbor and the bombing of Baguio itself, Romulo notes that MacArthur tried to continue this public confidence by issuing optimistic communiqués such as his first one, directly after the Baguio bombing on December 27, 1941: "The military is on the alert and every possible defensive measure is being taken. My message is one of serenity and confidence" (Romulo, 38). That the Japanese Imperial Army would be marching into Manila less than a week following this piece of august nonsense was something his "confidence" and "serenity" obviously hadn't foreseen. An egocentric MacArthur would issue 142 communiqués for radio broadcast between December and March 1942—the last ones from Australia. As Daws points out, this is more than one a day, and of that number, "in 109 [of 142] the only man in uniform identified by name was MacArthur" (66).

    Most civilians were fortunate—or unfortunate—enough not to know the extent of the bombing's devastation of the U.S. Pacific Fleet. Alice Morton Hill, however, had a husband who was a reserve officer in Naval Intelligence. In a phone interview she recalled vividly that her husband, Harry, had come home grimly from the office and told her that "everything" had been lost at Pearl Harbor. He also informed her that the war was going to be very long and that eighty Japanese transport vessels were currently riding at anchor off Luzon. As he threw together a package of clothes and ammunition, he told her that the two of them would probably not see each other for a long time. She listened, she said, crying silently and cutting up a navy blue party dress to make shields to cover and help black out his car headlights. Harry was right. After she waved to him driving away, she never saw him again. After holding out on Bataan and making the Death March, he died in Cabanatuan Prison Camp, leaving Alice a widow with a small child in Santo Tomás Internment Camp (Alice Morton Hill, interview). As Alice Hill explained to me with great sadness, she and others believed prior to the war that, if one came, it would not touch them but would be "somewhere else": "We believe these [great] navies were going to do their fighting out there in the ocean somewhere" (interview).

    After all, the Philippine Islands themselves supposedly were, in the words of MacArthur, "eminently defensible," and there was a commander in chief in charge of the islands' defenses who had, according to both the president and army authorities, "demonstrated brilliance in strategic planning" (Taylor, 22)

    That in his brilliance MacArthur did not agree with the rest of the War Department about the meaning of a modified "Rainbow-5" plan was not well known. Earlier, the War Department (along with the State Department) had gingerly allowed MacArthur's interpretation to pass through and even seemed to approve it. As Cook points out, what were they going to do? They could not remove him—though obviously they should have, given his high-handedness with accepted strategic planning and military preparedness in the Philippines. MacArthur was a publicist's nightmare, given his extraordinarily positive relations with the American press gained early on from his appointment in 1912 as military assistant to the Bureau of Information. This appointment provided the basis for the press contacts he would use for the rest of his life (Petillo, 115-116). Such a man could have easily become a potential political blackmailer. He was in a position publicly to embarrass the U.S. government over Rainbow-5's dismissal of, even expectation of, the loss of the Philippines—that is, in the unaltered Rainbow-5 plan. He could have easily called a press conference and pointed out to both the Filipinos and the American people that the government was deliberately deceiving them about its intentions toward the Philippines, that even what reinforcements arrived were "a sham." The result would have been a public uproar and pressure to switch the objectives, materiel, and strength (too early, in the government's eyes) to the Pacific rather than to increase the aid to Britain. Additionally, such an announcement would have caused a loss of respect and tested the loyalty of the Philippine people whom, for moral and strategic reasons, the government needed to retain to maintain a strong holding action against the Japanese until Americans could reorganize (Cook, 72).

    Therefore, MacArthur was neither restrained in his strategic plans nor removed from command, thereby inadvertently underlining his firm belief that "even an institution as all powerful as the Army might bend to his will" (Petillo, 80). Apparently, the War Department and the Department of State hoped that, when war came, the "impossibility of pursuing [his] grandiose scheme would become universally evident. The retreat into Bataan [a standard part of Rainbow-5, we remember] would appear, however, not as having been planned but as having been dictated by the fortunes of war" (Cook, 71). MacArthur's maladroit planning and his failure to cache medical stores, equipment, weapons, and food all the way down the Bataan peninsula as stipulated in both the last War Plan Orange and the unrevised Rainbow-5 more than adequately proves how resistant he would have been to the idea of the "impossibility" of his schemes.

    According to some military historians, the defeat in the Philippines was the "greatest in the history of American foreign wars," and the swiftest to boot (Long, 226). More than anything else, it showed how much the "defense" of the Philippines (in any version) was a terrible sham. Civilians left in the Philippines would realize this fact forcefully and personally during the next three to four years of internment.

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments ix
Introduction 1
1. Pearl of the Orient: Manila and the Prewar Philippines 9
2. First Dark Days 33
3. Meanwhile, on Several Islands Not Far Away 63
4. Inside the Gate: The Nature of the Japanese Administration
of the Civilian Internment Camps 108
5. The Japanese Soldier's Ration: Food and Health in Civilian
Internment Camps 147
6. Hunger Time: April 1943-February 1945 177
7. A Roof over Their Heads: Shelter in Civilian Internment
Camps 207
8. Idle Hands Are the Devil's Playground: Work in the Camps 225
9. Angels and Tanks: Rescue Comes 260
Epilogue 311
Appendix 319
A Note on Sources 321
Notes 333
Bibliography 337
Index 347
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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 14, 2001

    Informative and Captivating

    As the son of parents who were among the Americans interned by the Japanese in the Philippines, this book answered many of the questions unasked for a lifetime and provided the framework to discuss with my parents, their experiences leading up to and during their internment. A heartfelt thanks for the work that Frances B Cogan put into the research and development of this little known piece of World War II.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 15, 2000

    Great book on a little-known topic

    This is a wonderfully detailed account of what happened to Americans who lived in the Philippines when the Japanese conquered those islands during World War II. Not many people know that this even happened, much less what those war years were like for American civilians. This is a real must-read for anyone interested in World War II.

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