Tuesday, February 8, 2011

And Three Times Whacked The Jesuit Priest’s Face

American troops liberating Bilibid Prison in 1945
A Jesuit chaplain about his daily rounds, stopped by a young boy whose heart was bad. He knew his days were numbered, but every night he told the priest, "Father, I’d be happy if I could just see one Yank coming in full battle dress beyond that barbed wire fence." His wish was finally granted, when the Rangers stormed the camp one night, and took him to safety. Some American prisoners were confined at the Davao Penal colony until the first months to liberate the Philippines in June 1944. The prisoners were ordered to turn in everything: knives, cigarette lighters, matches, etc. 
One American Jesuit forgot a rusty opener of a sardine can he kept in his bag. The officer in charge discovered it, and three times whacked the priest’s face for this oversight. The prisoners were blindfolded, bound together like cattle, their shoes were removed, and were marched into the open. Herded into trucks, 1,300 of them were put aboard a small transport. 
They were left below deck, 584 men in a hold measuring 70 feet. For the next 96 hours they stood and slept -- if they could -- on their feet. By squeezing themselves more tightly together, they made some room so that six men could sit down at a time. 
This lasted for 21 days. The transport finally arrived in Manila. The American Jesuit priest, weakened by dysentery and malnutrition, stayed for a while at Bilibid prison and thence moved to Cabanatuan. He usually blacked out on rising from sleep, and once, he lost his balance and fell to the cement floor, badly bruising his knee and shoulder. 
The knee swelled and he could not stand on it. This was a lucky fall. It saved him from being sent to Japan with another batch of prisoners.
Link (here) to read the full account at Business World online.

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