Filipino kindness was in full display during WWII as they tried to assist Americans, and other foreigners.
Foreigners in the Philippines, save for those from neutral countries, were held captives in the camp set up by the Japanese on the campus of the University of Santo Tomas in Manila in 1942.
Former Guam residents Gertrude Hornbostel, her son Earl, and daughters Gertrude “Tootsie” Hilde and Johanna, were among the internees. Their father, Major Hans Hornbostel, a veteran of the Hispanic-American War and WWI, was in Bataan, and among those who endured the Death March.
According to Dr. Joseph P. McCallus’ “American Exiles in the Philippines 1941-1996,” in his analysis of Earl Hornbostel’s narrative, Hornbostel cited the Filipino kindness towards the Americans even in at the risk of their own safety.
“Frankly, without the help that Filipinos gave Americans in Santo Tomas and other internment camps, the rate of death would have been many, many times higher,” said Hornbostel in his narrative of his WWII experience.
Some of these Filipinos, Hornbostel said, were former employees of the Americans before WWII.
“These people had no obligation to their masters…. But nevertheless, so many of these people sacrificed their own welfare by doing everything they could for their former masters in Santo Tomas,” continued Hornbostel.
They provided food to the extent the Japanese would allow. They passed on information to their masters’ friends outside the camp and they too would provide help through these Filipinos who would send in food to the internees.
Some in the upper class would lend money payable after the war.
“This was such a common occurrence that it was not unusual; it simply happened. There was certainly nothing like this in Indonesia,” he said.
At the camp, food was not adequate. Initially, the internees had to get extra outside Santo Tomas. But some would make a killing in selling food at the gate. Having lost their jobs and resources, in order to afford getting food and other necessities, the internees would either borrow money or raise them by selling products or offering services in the camp.
Those who could borrow money, did. As he did not want to incur debt, although he could borrow from friends outside the camp, he thought of selling candies. A chemist, he said, was able to make lipstick. Some women did manicure, pedicure, and hairdressing. Someone made nipa huts.
In his own personal experience, Hornbostel would not have been able to run his candy business in the camp without the assistance of his Filipino friends. This was possible, he said, “because of Filipinos who worked for me before the war.”
He narrated, “…one whole family, whose oldest son had worked for me as my office manager when I worked at Heacocks, went into calamansi squeezing: buy the calamansi, buy the sugar. They got the flavor concentrates like oil of wintergreen, vanilla, and all the others that were needed.”