Sgt Roman F. Klick 36620923
HS 1393 Engr APO 73
c/p SF Cal
28 May 1945
The time right now is exactly three-thirty in the afternoon. Nope, now it is almost four o'clock but at last I am getting to a point where I am able to write at a decent hour. Not that the work is done or anything like that, far from it, but we moved the office from the two pyramidal tents to what they call ward tents and we have a much better and bigger area to work in. But since we moved this afternoon and everything is just junked around we haven't any of us had the ambition to get started on our work again. And so the next best thing is to knock off a letter or two.
Something interesting appeared in the "Times", the local newspaper. I'll quote it directly because it is a good word picture of the conditions. "The orderly room calls him E.M., the Aussies call him "yank", the people here call him Joe and he calls himself G.I. - plus a few vivid adjectives. For the sake of coherency, we will call him "Joe" - as he is known here.
"Joe is a very human guy. He hates Japs, likes kids, feels for the underdog and considers himself a B.T.O. - or "Big Time Operator." He waves to the kids with their "Victory, Joe" from his six-by-six. A little embarrassedly he pays a gigantic price when the wash-woman says: "It's up to you."
He scowls when he notices the flimsy clothing of the house boy he is paying eight pesos a week to fill his helmet; then he reaches down into his barracks bag.
The little children follow him shouting, "Candy, Joe" or "Money, Joe" and love him because he never disappoints them. Yet, this big hearted, sympathetic person is jeopardizing the price control policy of the Philippine Government.
By his big heartedness he is destroying the value of commodities, creating discontent and encouraging the Black Market.
G.I. clothing and equipment does not belong to the soldier. He is merely using it. Selling and giving away Army clothing and equipment falls under "Stealing and selling of Government property. A court-martial offense."
And Joe, when he is hard up for filthy lucre, does sell clothing and equipment at prices far higher than he could get back in the States.
But he is selling and giving away material that does not belong to him. By paying five and six times the actual cost of things he is encouraging inflation. By being free and easy with his pesos, he is destroying the value of them.
Yes, Joe, you're a definite set-back to progressiveness in the Philippines."
Anyway, to continue about the little kids. Right now there are three of them here besides me as I typewrite. One is named Eleno, the boy, his older sister is named Marie and the oldest sister who can talk English slowly is named Paula. They all stand around and eventually you give them a candy bar or some sugar. But they do not eat it. The people (little folks) look at them, sniff them and then put their gleanings in a small can which they eventually must take home for the family.
One fellow asked us to buy a fancy knife for a certain amount of clothing. To him cigarettes didn't mean a thing (he could talk English with the American slur to it) and he wanted clothing for his family and food for his babies. He said that tomorrow he will be back to give me a souvenir knife (a small one). I told him I had no clothes to give him or anything and he said he was going to give it to me.
Today we received two bananas per candy bar and now a woman upped it to a bar of candy per banana and we don't think that is enough.
Strangely, there wasn't any mail at all today so that makes two days without a letter which is bad.
Since this is still early in the evening or rather late in the afternoon, Pedro hasn't shown up this evening. He works until about seven o'clock.
O yes, Leishman was reduced without prejudice to the grade of private yesterday and also at the same time promoted to pfc. Then, Marsh was promoted to Corporal.
It is now after chow time and the Philippine people of the neighboring communities and of the town we are situated in just swarm in at that time. And the little tots ask for food. Everybody gave away at least a couple slices of bread, maybe a box of hardtack and a few candy bars. The little kids are pretty bold about asking and even if you are eating something, they will think nothing at all of coming up to you, pointing to it and saying that you should give it to them.
Did I tell you that all Filipinos smoke cigarettes? They do, or at least the majority of them do. And age or sex is no barrier to smoking the weed. Little kids about ten years old will go puffing along and then an old woman who may look to be one hundred will be taking a drag or two.
Some of the women have fine dresses which they must have been saving since prior to the war and in a way they look incongruous among the plainer clothed neighbors. The women, like the women back home, wear all sorts of headgear. When it rains they will cover their head with a handkerchief if they are hatless. They also wear bushkas, Chinese type straws, country girl straw hats. The little boys will wear the end corner of a burlap sack, a GI overseas hat, the regular straw hat the kind you see on peddler's horses (and it is comical because the hat in the case of little tots is about half the size of the boy). They are such a friendly, smiling, carefree people. And among themselves they are exceptionally sociable and gregarious and they will congregate in twenty or thirty in front of our headquarters tent talking the situation over.
The very old people sometimes have to have a young person as an interpreter. The one woman was about fifty (by that, I do not mean very old - after all - but anyway she was about fifty) and she had a nice looking girl of about ten or eleven who talked excellent English and she was very willing to converse about anything with anybody. That is what makes things so nice around here with quite a number of people speaking English, it makes you feel as if they are a bit closer to you than their dark skins would indicate.
Another amazing thing is the way the women can carry those large bundles of clothes and baskets of bananas and other things on their heads without ever once letting it fall down or having to rest. One woman stood outside here with the bunch of them and carried on a half an hour conversation without ever once setting down the bundle. And the way they can carry those baskets of newly cut grass (one at each end of a bamboo pole which they support on their shoulders) is beyond us because several fellows have tried to do it and scarcely can lift it to their shoulders. The Filipino, however, never does lift it, he stoops down and places his shoulder under the point of balance and then swings it up into the air. They also seem to have the knack of letting their backs act as a transference of power and allow their legs to carry most of the weight whereas an American will carry a thing with the upper part of his body.
And the smallness of the Filipino is always amazing too. For they are by nature a small people so at no matter what age they are, they look years younger than an American child at that corresponding age. And estimating the age of anyone past fifteen is just about impossible until they get into the forties.
Our meals have been exceptionally good lately. The reason: we are eating out of boxes of rations which are good for several men for the full day. That way we actually have a choice of what we wish to eat at any meal and we make full use of the opportunity and often disregard the menu which is printed for our use. There is always a pack of cigarettes per man and a candy bar. Those are the two fixed items. Then they will have ham and eggs, bacon, canned milk, a dry breakfast cereal which when you add water to it is already sweetened and makes the water turn into milk leaving just the cereal floating around in it. In fact the whole list of foods in these so-called 10 in 1 rations is just about the best you can get in dehydrated, concentrated and canned foods. The Nescafe is always good and if I drink coffee in civilian life, I'm wondering if I won't like that brand the best of all. Also in the rations are chewing gum, a powdered beverage which is actually as good as the real thing. The orange powder is white and turns to orange color when hitting the water and it brings tears into your eyes after drinking it. They also have grape, lemon, etcetera. And the chocolate drink is another of those turn into milk and self sweetened variety. It is far better than any comparable civilian drink for it can mix in cold water. Even sliced bacon comes in cans! The candy bars are miniature Chuckles, Hershey's and Jolly Jack's. But they are concentrated so that there are no air spaces in them and are almost the equivalent of a full sized bar. They have fig and plum puddings which go excellently with the canned milk. And the can opener, one of which I will send you, is better than those things which soon bust up back home. It is a little gadget not much larger than your thumbnail and the cutting part is hinged so it can fold back on the small finger grip. Other cans open up with keys. All kinds of soap are in them, small bars of Lux, Palmolive, Lifebuoy etcetera. The only trouble is that in having to fix your own meal like that, it takes the full hour for each meal.
And now back to the country out here. The American dollar is not coveted. In other words, you try to pay somebody in American dollars and they will refuse to accept it and ask for pesos instead. The one peso note has a picture of two Filipino's on it, the five peso note has a picture of President McKinley and Admiral Dewey and the ten peso note has the same kind of profile view of George Washington as is on the one cent stamp. We can send home up to ten pesos and I will do that eventually. The notes are issued thru the Commonwealth of the Philippines but are backed by the United States treasury and printed by us in the States. I have only seen one coin thus far but we will more than likely see our fill of them comes payday.
Two little boys furnished us with a laugh today. They came down the road singing "The Beer Barrel Polka" at the top of their lungs and then broke right into "Mexicali Rose" and even had a harmonica to blend in once in a while. Another favorite song is "God Bless America" and "Donkey Serenade."
I wanted to buy a purse today but there were no traders of purses around. I asked one fellow if he had purses and he couldn't understand me but I found out later that they know them in English as handbags. The vegetation of this country, what little we have seen of it, does not seem unlike our own. There is no noticeable difference such as the niaouli trees of our first island, and the jungles of our second.
The fellows got a laugh out of me when I took Captain Bellows up on his offer to give me a chew of tobacco. It was something called "Spark Plug" and it sure tasted awful and the more you chewed the larger it got in your mouth and it seemed that they were just waiting around for me to spit it out and when I did they all guffawed. I knew that would be the result and that is why I did that.
So-long, /s/ Roman Roman