On March 29, 1968 we reached Camp Bao Cao. In Vietnamese that means, "please may I". The prisoners named this camp as such because we were trained to bow and say "Bao Cao" every time we asked for food and other things that we needed. Days later, I heard a familiar voice. Much to my surprise, my Filipino friend and co-worker at VOA, Arturo Balagot also arrived. I felt relieved knowing there was another Filipino in camp. We were interrogated here and kept under solitary confinement for three months. Our cells were approximately six feet long, 4 feet wide and 6 feet high and no windows. Here we were allowed to bathe outside next to a big barrel of cold water and were allowed to shave. We were fed twice a day with rice and a little bit of vegetable soup that was mostly water.
I discovered a poem on the wall in this room and I copied it on a cigarette wrapper. I believe an American Air Force pilot once occupied it:
Around the first week of July 1968, we were transported by truck and traveled a dirt road called the Ho Chi Minh Trail. After walking everyday for several months, the thought of riding in a truck seemed like luxury.
Asterisks indicate prison camp. The Ho Chi Minh Trail is a dirt road that stretches across the boundaries of Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia. This trail was bombed constantly, but because of a large work crew, it was repaired as soon as it was destroyed.
(With Marc Cayer's permission, map and illustration above with some modification, was taken from his book 'Prisoner in Vietnam' )
We had big smiles on our faces as we got on. Several hours later, those smiles turned into grunts and moans. The ride was so excruciating because the driver managed to hit every pothole on the road. We were bouncing and being thrown everywhere. Sitting on our folded blankets didn't do much good. We thought it would have been better if we walked!
This page was last updated 09/23/01