MANILA, Feb. 5, 1945 (INS) - Boiled hibiscus leaves were the worst, but we did not eat these very long because the camp doctors discovered they are slightly poisonous and in our case, just a touch of poison was enough.
Boiled roots of the banana plant came next, then the talinuo greer weed, which could be cooked or eaten as a salad. This was not especially palatable, but we ate lots of this because it contained vitamin B-1.
Cornmeal mush was good and tough carabao meat, which we had on rare occasions and which was wonderful. Last Christmas we got a spoonful of jam each, and that was heaven.
During the first year or so of our stay food could be bought through the Filipinos who were able to supplement our ration, but the military took over the camp in February of 1943 and this stopped and matters got worse.
Eventually it became a case of malnutrition. We could not have lasted much longer, although some food was still available, and a person could barter with fellow internees who had saved some through the Japanese.
Only last week the woman living next to me traded a $700 ring for ten pounds of rice for her little girl and boy.
One had to be a very rich person to buy food outside. If you could get someone in camp to cash a check you were likely charged 200 per cent interest - a $3,000 check would get you $100 in cash and could buy one kilo (nearly two pounds) of sugar or two kilos of rice.
The Japanese guards willingly accepted our jewelry for small quantities of food, and few people were able to save their treasures.
A man in camp, who like us, lost everything, will be destitute when he leaves here. Some have enormous debts.
My husband and I lived carefully and frugally and yet during 1944 we were forced to borrow the equivalent of $1,100 American dollars.