“Every Day is a Holiday” When You’re a Free Man

every_day_is_a_holiday-01-pressGrowing up in Clark, N.J., Theresa Loong knew little about her Malaysian-born father’s past. Then she discovered a diary he kept while a POW in Japan during the second world war.

Paul Loong was fighting with the British Royal Air Force when the Brits surrendered the Malay Peninsula. He and thousands of others were sent to Japan, where Loong endured three long years of hard labor. It was then that he began keeping the diary his filmmaker daughter discovered many years later.

Theresa Loong’s many questions for her father about the time he spend in the camp grew into the documentary, “Every Day Is a Holiday.” The title was taken from a diary entry during a bleak time in Paul Loong’s imprisonment, where he swore that if he survived as a free man, “Every day would be a holiday.”

Eventually he was freed. He sailed to America, arriving in San Francisco in 1947. He eventually ended up in New Jersey, but not after another war. He enlisted in the U.S. military to fight the Korean War in hopes that he would become a U.S. citizen. He finally did in 1956. Veterans’ benefits allowed Loong to attend medical school and he became a doctor with the Department of Veterans Affairs in New Jersey.

“Every Day is a Holiday” traces this journey through visits to former POW camps in Japan, wartime artifacts, archival documents and interviews. The movie will show at the Montclair Film Festival on May 4 at 11:15am at the Clairidge Cinema. After the screening, Dr. Loong, director Theresa Loong, executive producer Bill Einreinhofer and editor Kristen Nutile will comment on the film and answer audience questions.

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  1. In a book titled “Prisoners Of War Of The Japanese” by Gavin Daws, there’s the tale of a patriotic Nisei from Texas who joined the National Guard in Texas in the late 30’s. His unit was called up and he was captured in early 42. And his Japanese captors kept telling him, basically, “Gee you look Japanese. Are you sure you’re not really one of us?” He, along with other captured members of his unit, kept denying his ethnic origins throughout the war. Can you imagine the pressure he was under, what these brutes would have done if they’d decided to their satisfaction that he was indeed of Japanese descent? Luckily, he and most members of his captured unit survived the war and what to us remai near unimaginable horrors, daily beatings, semi-starvation, etc. Great, obscure story.

    I salute the courage of both Dr. Loong and this man. Thanks for serving, guys.

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