Mary Alice Foley, born in 1925, was the only child of Frank Gerald Foley and Ella Delores McTeague. Frank and Ella married in 1923. Frank worked for a firm in America that sent him to the Philippines on business in mid-1937. Mary Alice and her mother stayed in New York, where the family lived, until October 1937, when they embarked on a sea voyage to join Frank in Manila. They left Brooklyn on October 14, 1937, passed through the Panama Canal, and arrived in Manila on November 25. They lived in an apartment hotel in Manila. Mary Alice began school in 1938 at Maryknoll Normal School, a Catholic school. Her mother entertained herself with cocktails, shopping, and watching movies, while her father continued to work for the American firm, but considered switching jobs to a company based in the Philippines. On May 23, 1938, the family left Manila to sail back to New York, stopping in Hong Kong, Shanghai, and Japan on the way.
Frank apparently lost his job after the family returned to America, because the firm went bankrupt. He decided to take the job in Manila, dealing in sugar and coconut oil, and the family returned to the Philippines before 1940. Mary Alice went to school at the American School in Manila. She was a freshman during the 1939-40 school year. When war in the Pacific broke out, the United States told civilian families they would be safe in Manila, so Mary Alice and her family remained there. On December 9, 1942, the Japanese attacked the Philippines, and by January 2, 1943, the Japanese occupied Manila. On that day, they sent the civilians of enemy countries into an internment camp at the University of Santo Tomas. Mary Alice and her family remained there until they were liberated by allied forces on February 3, 1945.
Internees in the camp lost their freedom and privacy, but food and other provisions were adequate for most of the camp's existence: not until mid-1944 did the food supply grow scarce, causing some people to die of malnutrition. The internees slept in large, sex-segregated dormitories, with 40 to 50 people in a room. They were given some autonomy in the camp, created classes for school children and college students, published an internment newspaper, and occasionally put on plays or talent shows. Mary Alice continued her high school studies while interned, and graduated from high school on April 30, 1943. She began college classes after graduation.
The family was on their way home by April 3, 1945, and resumed life in New York, staying with Ella's sister, Irene McTeague. Mary Alice later moved to Long Island, and, near the end of her life, Scarborough, New York. Mary Alice never forgot the time spent in the internment camp, and she attended the fortieth and fiftieth reunions of the Santo Tomas Internment Camp. At the fiftieth reunion, she gave a speech. Mary Alice died in 1996, at the age of 71.