Ruth Morgan – O’Connor Woods

Ruth Morgan - OConnor Woods

Claire Gilliland, Editor-in-Chief

O’Connor Woods resident Ruth Morgan was born on Oct. 27, 1934, in the Philippines, the youngest of six children.  She was six years old when Japanese soldiers came and occupied her country and her city, Manila.

“In 1941, almost around Pearl Harbor,” Morgan said.  “The Japanese just walked into the city and occupied the city.  There was no war; it was a peaceful occupation.”

The soldiers didn’t bother Morgan’s family much, but she was still afraid.

“They took over some of the stores and rich people’s homes,” Morgan said.  “It didn’t really affect me but we were scared because we didn’t really know who they were.  When they were in the city they wore their uniforms, which was weird — [they had puttees that] were wrapped around their legs like a mummy.”

Morgan’s mother was Filipino and her father was white, from Michigan; the Japanese soldiers put white and half-white people in a prison camp in a university in the city, so Morgan and her siblings had to make sure no one knew they were half-white.  However, Morgan and her family were able to avoid trouble, mostly.

“Of course we were scared because they said they could recognize you if you aren’t Filipino,” Morgan said.  “They didn’t really bother us [though].”

Morgan’s father died when she was three, before the Japanese occupation.  Her mother helped make sure she was safe during the Japanese occupation.

“We kept moving because we didn’t know where we should stay to be safe,” Morgan said.  “There was one time where the Japanese cut off our electricity and the water.  People were just trying to live.  Most people became poor because there’s no jobs during the war.”

Morgan remembers the Japanese soldiers handing out rations at times, but these weren’t to be depended on.

“One time they said the Japanese were giving rations — rice — and we went to go get rice, and everyone was in line, pushing.  I was only six years old, and they gave me a little bit of rice, and it was wet and smelled weird, and we found out that it was at the bottom of a sunken ship, and people were eating it.”

Morgan recalls these dark times as filled with death, despite her young age at the time.

“When we walked on the streets we would find dead people from hunger, just lying on the road, and it became just a common thing, you see people dying there and you’re just walking by,” Morgan said.  “People were starving all over the place.”

Eventually, though, the Japanese occupation ended when American soldiers came to the Philippines.

“We heard that General MacArthur was coming to save us…, and then the U.S. soldiers came, [and] we were so happy….  The soldiers were throwing chocolate to us.  At night we saw them crawling in the roads, like a movie, with the machine guns.  The next morning they caught one Japanese guy.  From the distance we could see that they put him in the chair on an open road and just killed him.”