Deciding which Illustrations to Include in “Only by the Grace of God”

One of the most difficult decisions I had to make in producing this book was which pictures and documents to include and which to leave out. Since every illustration increased the cost of the project, I needed to keep the number of illustrations down. Some family pictures came from my cousin, Bill Mattas, and some were found among my grandmother’s effects. Bill’s mother, Hazel, was my father’s favorite sibling and they corresponded regularly. My grandmother and Auntie Mabel wrote to my mother regularly. In fact, Grandmother visited us in the Philippines during one summer vacation. (She was a high school mathematics teacher in Wisconsin.) They, too, had kept old photographs. We, of course, lost everything we owned and came home with only the clothes on our backs.

I felt that the letters written before, during and after the war between my parents and their siblings were important historical documents. They filled in information we children did not have. In fact, in one letter my mother wrote, she said she hated our house in Montalongon. I had never known how difficult it was for her being alone most of the time.

Since the Archway was not sure how well the scanned documents would translate to book form, I retyped many of them while retaining the original documents as JPGs.

I could not get permission to reproduce my parents’ engagement notice since I could not find the name of the newspaper in which it was published so I had no idea if the newspaper still existed. I could not find the name of the publisher of the pre-war tourist brochure that included a picture of the junior college in Cebu, one of our prisons, and the clubhouse at Liloan where we went to the beach on Sundays. The war destroyed so much historical documentation. Archway refused to let me include anything for which I had no permission. I wonder how historians manage this issue.

There are a number of photographs up on the internet of the Santo Tomas and Los Banos internment camps, but again, permission to reproduce was an issue. This page is a mixture of photographs of both Los Banos and Santo Tomas camps. Some show our rescue from Los Banos and the Amtracks that took us across the lake. Some show our barracks at Los Banos. Others are of the shanties at Santo Tomas and the main building where Mother and I were housed.

Another difficulty was the quality of the old photographs. Some simply were not worth using as they were much too faint even after using the enhance feature after scanning.

In the end, the photos I used represent our life before and after the war. My major regret is that we have no photographs of my father after the war before he died.



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