In the morning when the big iron rice cooker called “CAWA” was repeatedly sounded with the beating of a big metal spoon, we woke up for our breakfast, consisting of rice and “coffee.”
Actually our coffee was roasted rice boiled soft, which we also ate as we emptied our cup of coffee.
I used to always mix my rice with my “coffee” to simultaneously eat and drink the two with my big Army spoon. It was then to me the most delicious food, because at least the food was sweetened with brown sugar.
I had two sets of mess gear when I lined up for food. The other set of canteen cup and Army plate with a handle belonged to a very sick old man, S/Sgt. Basilio Viray. He was already a retired Philippine Scout soldier who answered the total mobilization call. He was over 60 years old, from Guagua, Pampanga.
He was so sick and very weak to stand up. Hence, I got his ration together with mine and spoon-fed him to make him regain his strength. When I made the list of POWs to be released as sick POWs, I placed his name ahead of the rest who got released in June, 1942.
I don’t know if he survived the war.
When Joselito Casteñares got sick and almost died of high fever, as he was then delirious and uncontrollable, I had to line up for his food, too.
He survived the war and was a M/Sgt, PC, when I was a Captain, P.C. He was then about to graduate from college with a BSE degree when I met him in Bulacan P.C. Barracks.
God has been very good to me and kept me always in good health and strong enough to help others. Besides Joselito and Sgt. Viray I was also helping other helplessly sick POWs get their meal.