I was looking at a report that the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) compiled during World War II about Filipinos who were collaborating with the Japanese. One of the people discussed was a man by the name of Dr. Francisco Africa.
Prior to the outbreak of World War II, Africa had served as the dean of the Institute of Arts and Sciences at the Far Eastern University in Manila. After the Japanese occupied the Philippines, Dr. Africa was appointed to serve on a committee to select Filipinos to study in Japan.
Later, in 1944, Dr. Francisco Africa became a consultant for the Foreign Ministry. In that capacity he then took on a very interesting job.
This is what the OSS report says,
“In connection with his work as consultant, he was also appointed Chairman of the Philippines Inter-ministry Joint Committee whose chief function it has been to assist the Burmese Research Mission in its extensive study of conditions in the Philippines which began 13 July 1944.
“Of greatest use to the Burmese Commission is a 338 [or 358?] page book entitled ‘What Burma (word missing in original report) about the Wartime Philippines,’ prepared by Dr. Africa. This report which was completed in July 1944 is a compilation of answers of the different ministries and offices of the Republic of the Philippines to questions of the Burmese Commission.
“‘It is intended to serve as a guide and source of information to researchers and students of Philippine economics, finances, technical education, sociology and public administration. . . Divided into 12 chapters, it gives a general picture of the structural activities and problems of the present independent Republic.’”
The report goes on to say that,
“In addition, the volume contains the proceedings of the round-table conference held July 21 among members of the Burmese Mission and the Inter-ministry Joint Committee.
“It is conceivable that such a report would be sued for propaganda purposes to convince other governments, in this case Burma, of the success and efficiency of the Japanese administration.”
I had never heard of the Burmese Mission, nor did I know that there were people from Burma who visited the Philippines in the middle of World War II ostensibly in order to learn about how the Philippines was administered and how its society and economy functioned.
I also had no idea that there were people in the government of a Japanese-occupied country like the Philippines who put together extensive reports like the one mentioned here.
Ultimately there is a lot that we still do not know about the day-to-day activities of governments and societies in Japanese-controlled Southeast Asia during World War II. However, from the brief mention of the Burmese Mission and the report that was drafted for its visit to the Philippines by Dr. Francisco Africa’s committee, we can see that in many ways, life apparently went on as usual.