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  Los Baņos Memoirs, WWII  
  By Dr. Jorge P. Juliano Sr.  
  My name is Jorge Juliano, I am a native of Los Banos, Laguna, which is located on the Island of Luzon.  There are three Island groups in the Philippines, Luzon, The Visayas and Mindanao.  
  At the mouth of Manila Bay is Corregidor and to the north of Corregidor is Bataan.  Los Banos is southeast of Manila by the shores of Laguna De Bay, which is a fresh water lake.  It is the site of the University of the Philippines College of Agriculture and College of Forestry.  
  I was eleven years old when we got our first taste of the second World War.  On December 25, 1941 two Japanese planes bombed Los Banos.  We lived just outside the campus gate where my mother and dad ran a Student Dormitory and Boarding House. We did not finish our Christmas luncheon because of the bombing.  We immediately ran into our bomb shelter, which was an open trench about four feet wide by ten feet long and about five feet deep.  It was located under an avocado tree.  The two low flying bombers circled several times around the Railroad Station and strafed a train that had stopped at the station.  I still can hear my dad shouting, to lie flat in the trench, every time there was a burst of machine gun fire from the bombers.  
  One of the bombs dropped by the Japanese bombers made a direct hit on Molawin Hall, the mess hall in the Campus, and it was completely demolished.  Fortunately, the ROTC Cadets had just finished their Christmas luncheon and they were on their way to Baker Memorial Hall for the Christmas program.  No one was killed from the Mess Hall bombing.  
  After the raid, we packed some belonging and food supplies and evacuated to the Rain Forest of Mount Maquiling.  Whenever we heard planes, we would put out our fires to avoid detection, due to the smoke from the fire.  Our food supply did not last long, and we returned home about the first week of January.  Our first glimpse of the Japanese soldiers were through cracks in the wall of our home.  The women were in hiding for fear of being raped.  We buried all the uniforms that had been left in our dormitory, by the boarding cadets.  
  I learned later that our American Missionaries, the Bollmans and Bousmans were also hiding in Mount Maquiling. The stranded students that lived with us, joined the resistance movement and brought food and supplies to the American Missionaries.  They later surrendered to the Japanese, and we saw them being hauled away in Japanese trucks.  Our parents informed us not to wave at them as the trucks passed by.  That was the last we saw of the Bollmans and Bousmans.  We did not know that they were to be interned at Los Banos.  Fifty years later I had contact with the Bollmans in the state of Washington.  
  The Makapilis (Filipino traitors who collaborated with the Japanese) were very active.  When my dad listened to the radio, for news from Bataan and Corregidor, my brother and I stood watch for the Makapilis.  The Makapilis knew that our dad had a shotgun and they came to our house with Japanese soldiers to search the house.  My dad had to surrender the shotgun and radio.  
  After the fall of Bataan and Corregidor, life went somewhat back to normal.  Under President Laurel's puppet government, there were "Zonas", whereby all young men and adults were confined for indoctrination and screening out guerrillas.  They were interned in the College Buildings without food and water. Dad subsisted on molasses found in the Chemistry Building.  Some of our friends were tortured and vanished.  Dean Uichangco, of the College was tortured by being hanged from his hands that were tied behind his back.  This hanging resulted in the dislocation of his shoulder joints.  His life was spared thorough the intervention of some Government Officials from Manila.  He had been questioned as to where the ROTC Springfield rifles were hidden.  I later saw the Japanese recovering rusty rifles from the septic tank behind Baker Hall.  
  Schools were opened and we were taught Nippongo, English was prohibited.  For our practicum or field work, we had gardening for the first year, poultry or pig.  Husbandry for the second year and Field Corps for the third and fourth years.  As we went to our practicum, we had to pass through several Japanese sentries or guards.  We were required to remove our straw hats, bow and greet them "Good Morning or Good Afternoon" depending on the time of day.  Good morning in Nippongo is, "Ohiyo Gusaymasu."  They would stand at attention and bow in return. We young teenagers, modified the word "ohiyo" to "Ohayop", which meant in Tagalog, "you animal."   
  Later in the occupation, life became more difficult.  Rice was scarce and we had to sieve rice bran to recover rice shorts, which is very similar to Cream of Wheat.  We cooked this with lots of water into a watery rice soup and added a little salt or dried fish if available.  We had no matches, so we were back into making fire the primitive way, with the use of flint stones and plant fiber.  Local soap was made from lye extracted from wood ashes and coconut oil.  Coffee was made from roasted corn or soybeans.  Sugar was in the form of brown solid blocks made from boiled sugar cane juice.  Dad smoked with all kinds of leaves (cassava, avocado, etc.) that he dried.  Cigarette wrapping paper was made from shiny pages of agricultural journals.  Barter trade was very common since the Japanese "Mickey Mouse Money" was of no value.  
  When the forces of General MacArthur landed on Leyte, the atmosphere in Los Banos became very tense.  My brother and I used to cut green grass with a sickle and brought it home in a burlap sack for our horse.  Once when I was cutting grass near the barbed wire and sawali fence of the internment camp by Baker Hall, a head popped out through one of the holes in the fence, an internee asked me if I could get some eggs.  I informed him that tomorrow I would be back.  The next day I brought about a dozen eggs and gave it to someone inside the Camp.  I am not sure if he was the same person I had saw the day before.  
  There was a period when the Japanese guards around the Camp were laxed.  The prisoners roamed around the Campus and one day, Filipinos looted a Japanese warehouse in the Agronomy Building.  Suddenly two Japanese soldiers with fixed bayonets arrived shouting, and everyone ran for their lives.  Dad came on his bicycle to investigate the commotion. There were no balloon tires on his bike, it had solid tires made from strips of rubber from a truck tire, that were fitted into the wheel rim.  The solid tires gave a bumpy ride.  Dad ran and left his bicycle.  That evening the Japanese, with Makapilis came to our house because they identified his bike.  Dad was suspected as one of the looters.  They made him stand up all night without any sleep.  He had a good alibi, he was carrying his ID papers that stated, "He was the Property Officer" of the College and he went to investigate.  They released him the following morning and I still can see him walking out of the gate in his pajamas.  
  Later the Japanese burned the Rural High School farm shop building and the Church among the palms.  They had earlier used these two buildings to store their supplies.  
  We evacuated to the Faculty Hill, close to the College or Forestry.  Early on the morning of February 23, 1945, we heard the rumbling sounds of airplanes.  Shortly we saw paratroopers jumping from the planes, followed with lots of gunfire and the burning of the Camp barracks.  My brother and I went to greet the American paratroopers.  During this period my brother and I found a little sack of rice which my uncle combined with a little tin of salmon, obtained from a paratrooper.  That was the best salmon and rice we ever tasted.  We even put some rice inside the empty salmon tin to get all of the oil.  An extended family of about 25 - 30 individuals feasted on this small tin of salmon and rice.  
  After the rescue of the prisoners.  The massacre of the College Community began.  The Japanese came about midnight and started to burn homes and kill civilians of all ages.  Some civilians were caught in a Roman Catholic Church, where they were killed (about 70) and burned inside the church. The night of the massacre, we had a "Vacuet", Tagalog slang for evacuate.  Every child in the family had his or her bundle to pickup and carry.  The entire width of the road from the College of Forestry was full of civilian refugees heading southeast, under escort of Filipino Guerrillas, toward a Guerrilla Camp.  We walked all night until we reached the safety of the "Barrios."  After resting during the day, we continued walking at night along rice paddies toward the town of Santa Cruz, a Guerrilla stronghold.  Finally, the Guerrillas commandeered a sailboat for the refuges and we sailed across Laguna De Bay to Binan, an area that had been earlier liberated by the Americans.  My dad would line up for food from the American GI's.  My brother and I worked for a short time with the 21st Evacuation Hospital, where Internees were being rehabilitated prior to their departure home.  
  At the time, we would have liked to have the US troops to stay have stayed in Los Banos, after the rescue of the Internees, perhaps the massacre of the local civilians could have been averted.  However we did not know the strength of the Japanese force that might pose a threat to the small American Task Force.  
  Many lives were lost by both the American and Filipinos in the liberation of the Philippines.  I am just thankful we survived.  Thanks to all the Filipino and American service men that helped in getting our freedom and let all succeeding generations know that our liberation was paid with great sacrifices by both living and dead veterans.  
  About the autor: Dr. Juliano currently lives in Oregon and has a nephew on the staff at Los Baņos University.  
  Ed. Note: Article had been forwarded to me by Paul Shea B-511th PIR