The Acaba Tree

I enjoy hearing the rain beat down on the roof. I makes you feel so smug and comfortable. We have cots now and sleep off the ground–just like civilized people.

As for purchases of cloth–you seem to forget that economic life has been at a standstill here since the war. The only clothes the people have is what they possessed before the war. Since we arrived there has been some stipulation of native cloth wearing. However, it is hardly suitable for making garments that could be worn in the states. It is woven from threads made by drying strips of abaca. The abaca tree looks like the banana tree. The trunk is very soft and pulpy and can be torn by hand into long strips or threads which when dried make a very tough fiber. The Filipinos weave some very attractive table cloths and napkins out of this and I plan to buy some the next time we get paid. Right now my capital is non-existent.

Some of the schools have now opened here and life is beginning to approach normal conditions and civilization has finally come to the Filipines. You can see little Filipino boys carry cartoon books–Dick Tracy, etc.–which they have been given by the fellows. You’d be surprised how the GI’s mother these kids. Quite a few now have “number one house boys” who do odd jobs around the camp–cleaning up, carrying water, etc–and in return they feed the kids & give them clothes, take them swimming and to the shows–just like a father. It only goes to show how home-sick and lonesome they are. The Nazi soldiers certainly must have a beating when they moved into the occupied countries and found that the people wouldn’t speak to them.

Do you realize how much it means to a soldier away from home to be able to talk to somebody other than a soldier. These people have certainly helped a lot. They invited a lot of guys to dinner on Xmas and often invite them to dances and baptisms. They wander through the camps soliciting clothes to wash, selling bananas, tangerines, onions, etc. There are even rumors that some of the guys have married, but I haven’t actually seen any weddings. The Negro troops are quite popular here, The Filipinos think they are American Indians. Whenever a truckload of Negro soldiers goes by they attract lots of attention. The girls point to them & giggle. They think the boys are pretty cute. I suppose quite a few will marry here & settle down in the Philippines.

Poor as these Philipinos are, their standard of living is still much better than that of many of the Southern Negroes & so-called “white trash”. They are very alert and enthusiastic about eduction. However, most of them would never be able to do more than go through high school. The girls will learn home-economics & the boys will study agriculture.

The salami is almost gone now. I was saving it for the beer, which is now aa week overdue, and finally could not resist no longer. If you can spare the ration points, I certainly could use another one. The last one arrived in excellent shape because you didn’t wrap it.

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