Vince Imbat

In search of the internment camp in Los Baños

Jun 2, 2022

Alternative title: Chasing the Ghosts of The Internment Camp

Went to UPLB Library and read about the internment camp at UPLB during the Japanese occupation. It was an amazing read. The historian was a good writer. After reading, by 4 pm when the library closed, I walked around Freedom Park, Madamba, and Viado to trace the interment camp. I wrote my impressions, reflections, and discoveries.

Behind Baker Hall is a submerged area. A broken bamboo bridge makes sense. There definitely is a deep ravine. Part of Molawin creek perhaps. Until now, this ravine exists and plants still grow here although I am not sure whether they are still bamboos and grass here, 6 ft high. I more bamboos. Just lots of bananas. Large trees. Some palms. In this ravine was also an orchard. This area is what is now the Senior’s Social Garden.

From where I stand right now, I could easily see the Los Baños internment camp.

The back of the hall would show that its iron works have really seen years. The cement looks new though. Was this building just restored? Was it completely bombed?

The wires would be clear from here. The guards. The infirmary. The barracks. Chapels would cover my view, but where they are playing soccer right now would easily be the wide space where the prisoners could play. Up on Baker Hall’s second floor, would be the best place to watch all the suffering in the camp. I imagine Konishi standing there looking at the internees, thinking about lessening their rations or rummaging their gardens. The plots would be easily seen from this spot.

As I seat, nearby, I hear the sound of racket hitting the ball. A man is playing with the fence on the tennis court nearby, owned by the aptly called Baker Tennis Clubhouse. Watching a tennis game wouldn’t have been a bad idea. This court may have been where the target range of guards once were.

A walk is a good metaphor for the process one needs to go through in understanding oneself and the larger world where one is embedded in. You don’t run. You don’t hurry this process. You take all your time. You don’t force things. You walk.

Where this basketball court right now is guard house 1. This unnamed building beside the court could have been the infirmary.

On this football field, part of Freedom Park, is guard 1, barracks, kitchen. The part where the bleachers are not built could have been a part of the barracks and the kitchen. Past the bleachers on what is now Vraja would be the commander’s barracks. Interestingly, this is the portion is in front what it is currently the UP ROTC headquarters, actually bult since 1912. Across the road from here is the entrance to the target range. The ROTC headquarters was part of the target range.

If my theorizing is right, then the Fertility tree cannot be older than 1945. It is too prominent for it. It to be in the map. Or it is possible that it was already there but way smaller than now so it was easily ignored. That area where it is now is the blank space that divides two chapels or mess halls. Perhaps there is that larger gap because of the tree.

Roxas street where I met Blanca for the first time was maintained. A long time road but it cut through the camp. If thats the case, the better location for the fertility tree was the garden. Juliano Ave did not exist yet. That road and the continuing education center were all part of the garden.

Before the animal husbandry building, on what is now Villegas Hall is a barracks, office, and garage. Beside the animal husbandry building was a tiny ice plant that crossed the road but is still part of the camp.

As I track all of these the sky starts cloudier, air chiller, night is coming close. How did the prisoners felt like when the night is about to come and they were at the middle of their captors?

The end of argañosa before dtri entrance is a corner of the camp. Across Where a guard house now stands was a chapel.

Madamba street was perhaps alreadt a path back then. At its mouth were sheds outside the barbed wire that enclosed the east side of the camp. I will walk Madamba, look at my right, imagine that these foliage is gone and I would see starving people.

Ward street may have been what divided dwellings from nondwelling areas. It may have lead to the end of the camp police, also made up of internees. At the corner of Roxas and Juliano.

If that’s the case this thickly plant covered area may have been the excavated dirt in the map.

What copeland gym once was an area where prisoners may have played or done outdoor activities.

I hear a warbling bird in the distance and another bird with a different sound responds. I hope these sounds consoled those prisoners as they waited rescue.

A plane passed by. The sound of jets fighting in the air would have been terrible.

The ati-ntc dorm may have lead to the ravine. The tree should be one near here. In fact it should be in what is the football field. It is perhaps the ravine here.

There are several really old trees here but that tree was singled out. Why? It is possible that this tree is gone now.

I walked around the edges of the softball field but I failed to find the tree. My hunch will be, if it is still alive, it is there inside the premises of the ati-nrc dorm.

I am sitting now, in front of this field an all I can see are the prisoners playing at the first few weeks of their three-year internment, three years where they would lose a friend they made inside, a loved one, their health, their life.

It is so easy to lose our freedom. We let someone else take it.

At the corner of Pili and Aglibut is an orchard. There are still small trees here, but none would qualify an orchard

I can see baker hall from the bridge at aglibut

Oh what I am describing is just internment camp 2. Is 1 in Pili Drive?

No other community have i found a collective love of dogs and cats than uplb and batong malake. People organize just to feed them and in the case of ate nadia, she goes by herself to feed them. These people would be appalled that the interns ate cats and dogs at the last days of their imprisonment due to starvation.