When the Japanese occupied Manila in January 1942, they took control of the then-newly established campus of University of Santo Tomas in the city’s Sampaloc district. With such a large tract of property and the large structures there that were already standing by that time, notably the UST Main Building and the old Education Building, (now occupied by the UST Hospital) the Japanese decided to convert the campus into an the Santo Tomas Internment Camp.
The Japanese rounded up about 4,000 foreign individuals, mostly American and British nationals who were deemed as “hostile aliens” by the Japanese and isolated them in the different buildings in the campus, most notably the Main Building. With that, the Santo Tomas Internment Camp was the largest internment camp the Japanese set up during the war; the internees organized themselves as an effort to make do of the situation. At first, the internment wards gave the prisoners some relative freedom so visitors could come and give them needed goods, not to mention some intelligence information, along the way. But as the tide of war was turning against Japan, the prisoners were given harsher treatment which was coupled by a shortening food supply which has resulted into malnourishment, if not death, among the internees. Such were the state of things as February 1945 entered. Continue reading