Liberation That Destroyed: The End of Manila, Queen of the Pacific

An Insult to Religious Filipinos' Sensibilities: Nuns Being Rounded Up by Japanese Soldiers (http://img51.imageshack.us/i/image005wn.jpg/)

With no applause, but with artillery fire, American bombs, Japanese lust and death, Manila, Queen of the Pacific, made her inglorious bow to the world in February 1945.

Iconic Photo of an American Tank Forcing Its Entry Into For Santiago, Once Impenetrable (AHC)

In a single month, what was built for centuries to being Asia’s first and genuine melting pot was destroyed and forever erased from the world. The capital city of the Philippines became the stage for not only bodily massacre but also, spiritual, cultural, artistic and national eradication.

It was in 9 January 1945 when Lt. Gen. Walter Krueger arrived in Lingayen Gulf, Pangasinan in what would become a United States campaign to recapture the Philippines from Japanese claws. By the end of January, much progress has been made by the Americans in reaching the outskirts of Manila namely that of Tagaytay and Nasugbu. They began to make their way up north to Manila.

American Tank Inspects Intramuros' Ruins. Notice the Walls of Sto. Domingo (AHC)

Backside of Once Marvelous Sto. Domingo Church (AHC)

The Manila Post Office (Where my Great Grandfather was Post Master General Before the War) (AHC)

On the other hand, the Commander-in-Chief of the Japanese mission to the Philippines, General Yamashita, has moved his headquarters to Baguio. He gave specific orders to make Manila an “Open City” and to simply destroy bridges and other critical infrastructures that may aid the Americans. He had no intention, whatsoever, of keeping Manila.

However, Rear Admiral Iwabuchi Sanji disobeyed the orders of his superior and launched a bloody and diabolical campaign to “defend” Manila to the end. With his motley group of Japanese soldiers, a month of suffering and sheer darkness engulfed the city of Manila, victimizing its citizens, its art, its culture, its heritage, its very soul.

The Intact Facade of San Francisco Could Have Still Been Restored (AHC)

When the Americans were making much advances into the city, the Japanese blew up Manila’s very historic and beautiful bridges, thus virtually dividing Manila into two: the Northern and Southern banks. In the eastern suburbs outside Manila, like Cubao, Kamuning and San Juan, the resistance against the Americans was minimal. My own lola and her two sisters and their mama moved to Cubao during this time precisely because they had a bad feeling of what would happen to Manila during those tense days. All girls, they were luckily spared. They were said to have only witnessed one violent act: the neighbor peeked while the Japanese were making the rounds when suddenly, he was shot in the head by a Jap who saw him.

Survivors of Intramuros Try to Escape The Place By Crossing the Pasig (AHC)

The National Assembly (AHC)

Likewise, although not without giving a good fight, the Japanese were unable to hold on to the northern banks of the Pasig. The areas here were the districts of Binondo, Sta. Cruz, Quiapo, etc.

In 3 February 1945, the US infantry, led by Atenean Manuel Colayco, managed to reach the Allied Internment camp that was actually the University of Santo Tomas’ sprawling campus. Its main building became the prison for around five thousand foreigners and Filipinos. The interment camp was captured the following day.

The situation, however, at the southern banks of the Pasig was far different. What is considered Manila’s most heavily concentrated area of rich architectural masterpieces, from ancient Spanish intramuros, to the American’s Neo-Classical corridor, as well as genteel Ermita, this area of Manila became the hiding place of the losing Japanese soldiers who became insanely cruel, killing people with no mercy.

The Navy Club on Fire, While Letran Being Heavily Attacked by the Americans Since There Were Japanese Hiding Inside (AHC)

According to the eminent Dr. Fernando N. Zialcita, my own professor in cultural heritage studies, the remaining soldiers in Manila, a good 10,000 marines, proceeded what would become infamously known as the “Manila Massacre”. Every morning, the soldiers would get heavily drunk before the roamed the city to kill civilians found in the streets. They began to set beautiful Filipino homes on fire (Ermita, Singalong and Malate became the worst hit residential areas), raid schools, kill orphans and even the mentally challenged.

Legislative Building Ruins (AHC)

Refuge in a Church (from LIFE Magazine)

Suddenly, Manila was in a bloodbath. As the Americans were pulverizing the Japanese daily with heavy artillery, tanks as well as a good 100 bombs dropped on the city per day, the Japanese violated women, raping Filipina ladies, preferring the young and mestiza-looking ones. They stabbed pregnant women, raped the foreign nuns and began bayoneting babies. Many accounts say how infants were thrown in the air only to be stabbed and impaled by Japanese soldiers’ swords. Men were immediately shot. Monks, priests, brothers and seminarians, in their cassocks and robes were grouped together, thrown a grenade at or shot. Irish and Spanish De La Salle brothers held in De La Salle Taft’s college chapel, with about two clans seeking refuge there, were coldly murdered by a marauding group of Japanese in an evening raid.

The Ruined Metropolitan Theater (AHC)

Orphanages, hospitals and mental asylums run by nuns were pillaged and menaced, wards murdered, nuns and nurses raped. The Neo-Classical buildings were burned by the Japanese and bombed by the Americans.

The Manila Hotel Ruins (AHC)

The Depressing Entry into the Post Office

But what was considered the scene of the worst fighting, and also the considered worst casualty was the Old Dame herself, the Intramuros. Her centuries-old walls did not last the heavy bombardment of American bombs, flame-throwers, bazookas, and grenades. Her citizens were hostaged by the Japanese in San Agustin. Priests keeping refuge in their monasteries were brutally killed. Because the Japanese, like rats, hid inside the old walls of Intramuros and inside the huge monastery complexes of Intramuros, the Americans felt it was their duty to bomb the entire place to rid Manila of the Japanese. And so, they dropped more than 100 bombs a day in that small area of Intramuros. After the war, the only structure left standing is also the oldest stone structure in the country, the mighty San Agustin, fortunately preserved from the destruction.

A Mass is Said Outside the Only Standing Church Left in Intramuros, the San Agustin (AHC)

What Could Have Been a Strong Reminder to Filipinos, the Facade of the Old Sto. Domingo was Torn Down by the Americans After the War

Intramuros – bastion of the Catholic Faith, repository of countless and priceless works of art, with documents and other materials that dated back since the very foundation of Manila, were burned and/or destroyed. It was caught in a cross-fire, its churches totally bombed-out, its palaces and mansions vandalized.

Slaughtered Bodies Found in Fort Santiago Dungeon Cell as Discovered by the Americans (AHC)

The Manila of our grandparents and ancestors’ affections was no more. After the war, it was said that more than 100,000 civilians, men, women, priests, nuns, babies, infants, mentally challenged, street urchins, were violently and mercilessly killed and violated. After the bombings, when all was left in dust, when the city was literally up in smoke, the Americans decided to BULLDOZE whatever was left in the city.

What Used to be the Magnificent Manila Cathedral (AHC)

What could’ve been restored, the facades of old churches, their old walls as well as the magnificent arches that used to be the doorways of mansions and palaces, were coldly bulldozed by the Americans. They wanted to make the entire city as fine as powder. Even the remaining facade of the Manila Cathedral was originally planned to be bulldozed. It was good though that the rich Don Santiago Picornell pleaded with American soldiers not to do such a horrid desecration.

Post-War Intramuros: With Only San Agustin Left, One Could Simply Trace the Outlines of the Corridors and Cloisters of the Numerous Convents

Yes, the chance of restoring and utilizing the ruins of Intramuros a la San Paolo’s facade in Macau, was lost. The Philippines’ gracious Manila streets, houses and government buildings were lost forever.

But what Manila lost was not simply its buildings; to an extent, it lost its very soul. With the extermination of Old Manila, came too the extermination of genuine Manila culture and heritage: the eventual loss of Spanish daily use in Manila, the strict sense of urbanidad or civilized etiquette, the sense of art, the sense of pride, and the sense of grace that used to be lived by Manila’s residents, rich or poor, were all bashed and cruelly snatched. Manileños were seemingly shaken from their deep slumber – they now lived in a destroyed city, a city where every man was for himself, where finders were keepers. Its former museums, galleries, institutes for research, which all had a wealth of information and expansive collections were all destroyed thus severing generations of Filipinos from their glorious past.

Suddenly, Manila became rude, uncultured, hustling and bustling, forgetting the afternoon paseo, forgetting manners and conduct. Suddenly, Manila forgot its genteel and dignified past, its art, its stature and heritage. Suddenly, Manila’s residents rid themselves of the bitter memories of Manila, moving away from it and settling in Cubao, New Manila, Quezon Avenue, Makati, Pasay, and San Juan. The provincianos started coming into Manila, scavenging through the waste and setting up various squatter areas. Intramuros, being totally devastated, but also strategically close to the pier, became a huge squatters’ colony, with the poor occupying what used to be former mansions, hospitals and universities. Tondo, where the first kingdom of Manila was believed to have been found, became infamously crowded and turned into a slum.

The Manila our grandparents knew will never be the Manila we will know.

Though there are efforts, one thing we as a people should never forget would be the immense suffering and abuse our beloved capital endured in the hands of not the Spaniards (as we often blame everything to their regime!) but actually, in the hands of Americans and Japanese.

Quiapo District: Only the Quiapo Church is Left Standing (American Historical Collection - AHC)

We must never forget that in one month, they wiped away our tangible and intangible dreams and hopes for a developed Philippines. We must never forget the dead of Manila, we must never forget Manila!

About hechoayer

Things made yesterday still influence us until today. Things made today will influence us tomorrow. Things of the essence such as faith, culture, food, music and values should never disappear nor eroded by the times. Instead, these must be recorded, lived and shared. Something made yesterday - hecho ayer - can be tomorrow's saving grace. Never ignore the past.
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37 Responses to Liberation That Destroyed: The End of Manila, Queen of the Pacific

  1. Gryph says:

    Your collection of photos of Manilla back-in-the-day are outstanding. Good research!

    • hechoayer says:

      Thank you Gryph. Not all of those are mine. Only few belong to old family albums/magazines. Most of the photos were from past research trips to the American Historical Collection located in my university’s old library. Some are also from Wikipedia🙂

  2. KC says:

    I can’t help but feel remorse upon seeing those photos of the ruined manila. Imagine how beautiful it would be to live in Manila if only the Americans were more prudent in their bombing. one word captures it all: sayang.

  3. Chua says:

    Your collection of photos is wonderful. You have a good eye.
    Are they on public domain?
    What do you do?
    Which university library are you referring to?

    • hechoayer says:

      Hello Chua!

      Thank you for your kind compliments regarding the photos. These came from a variety of sources. Some are not mine and belong to the American Historical Collection located in the Ateneo de Manila University. Some are family possessions. Others are from internet forums on Philippine history.

  4. Rod Cruz says:

    Incredible compilation, and very well articulated. Thank you for this! I was born in Manila. My Lolo Guillermo was Fiscal Judge of Manila in the 30s. He soaked in Intramuros every day. He and my Lola later lived in a glorious bahay na bato in front of a plaza, across the street from a church (Santa Monica) in Angat. (My Mother and her family were taken hostage in the church baptistry by the Japanese during the war, but later freed when an American tank plowed through the church doors). All these were redundant stories to me when I was younger, as my parents and grandparents would tell, and retell them over and over. I am 30 now and have lived in the United States for half of my life. I never forgot my Tagalog and now I have regained my Spanish. I now have this great thirst for more of my history. I feel an incredible connection to old Manila, but know that I would never, ever see it except through old photographs. I am so saddened. Lolo and Lola are gone, but their stories resonate within me. I feel a great sense of loss — Oh, if only I had been this aware back then…the questions I would’ve asked, the stories documented, the sketches I would’ve had drawn. We need to interview and document Lolos and Lolas from the old Intramuros days to keep these memories alive. Added to photographs and historical plans, these stories will be the heart of what we rebuild. I have hope that Intramuros will indeed be rebuilt. I vow to someday return to Manila and help rebuild myself. As poster KC said, Sayang, but I don’t think it’s too late. I believe we’re beginning to become more aware.

    • hechoayer says:

      Hello Mr. Rod Cruz!

      Thank you for sharing your sentiments here in my amateurish attempt to record our history. Although we are seeing more and more youths (and even adults) visiting Old Manila and asking questions like “What happened?” or “What will happen?”, I hope we all transcend all these and actually do things to improve and preserve/restore the old grandeur of what once the Queen of the Pacific. It demands the cooperation and strong will of politicians, urban planners, why, even the academe so that there would be an integrated effort to revitalize the one and only capital we call Manila.

      I hope more Filipinos like you realize that our heritage as a people is a noble and storied one, unique from our Asian neighbors and very similar to the Latin American experience. We need to review our perceptions on the Philippines and establish stronger partnerships with our brothers and sisters in the Hispanic world. I really hope more of our Pinoy brothers and sisters especially the younger ones, my peers, realize the importance of visiting our country’s heritage sites and digging deep into our history for us to be able to “market”/”sell” the Philippines more effectively!

      SALAMAT!

  5. spitster0877 says:

    This is the first blog I read from you, and in a way it was educational and emotionally crushing for me as I begin to understand how Manila evolved from its glorious past to its degenerative present…I could still say that some still try to make alive the spirit of the Old Manila (with the national government still making its seat at Malacanang Palace, and the old families still in Singalong, Ermita and Malate), but I have to agree that long ago, the soul has left its body (so to speak) a long time…All we have left are memories of it…This is well done…

    • hechoayer says:

      Muchas gracias spitster0877! I hope you continue reading my blog though! I really want to share more on our history and heritage to my fellow Pinoys!

      One way we could resurrect Manila or at the very least, keep its memory is to continuously visit it.

  6. Joe Burns says:

    When the Americans left in 1941, MacArthur declared it an open city and the Japanese walked into an intact city. Japanese defenders in 1945 decided to fight to the death, while slaughtering and raping Filipino’s daily. That alone sealed Manila’s fate. Every day the Japanese held the city, thousands more Filipino’s would have died. I totally disagree with the writers assessment of so called ‘abuse’ by the Americans. The Philippines was on the Japanese target list along with the rest of Asia. That was attested to by every Japanese interrogation after the war. To continue to propagate the idea that WWII came to the Philippines solely because it was occupied by the Americans perpetuates the Filipino impression that the Americans were the cause of suffering in the Philippines. Totally false. No one that knew MacArthur could ever say that if Manila could have been taken any other way, he would have. Your talking about an Army that fought it way back across the Pacific and witnessed Japanese atrocities on an unparalleled scale to that point. Dozing ruins was indeed, tragic. In all likelihood done in the interest of safety, and not a callous decision to eradicate Philippine history as the writer implies. Mr Celdran blames some of current Manila’s blighted conditions on Americans also. You’ll pardon me but WWII has been over for 68 years. I’ve heard his video presentation to university students and think its about time to stop blaming America for the abomination perpetrated by the Japanese and place today’s woes squarely where they belong: On the doorsteps of your own politicians.

    • I noticed the author did not ever reply to your rebuttal, the author only responded to replies of glowing appraisel for this “blog”. As an amatuer historian of WW2 history of over 30 years and having married a Filipino woman and having lived on Luzon for a period of time, I have become quite interested in WW2 Philippines. The author seems to not realize Japan’s war of terror across the Pacific was done only for Japan’s interests. The Japanese said at the begining of their war, “We hold no hostile feelings towards Asians” and “said” they wanted to make “Asia for Asians”. The author of this blog seems to have forgotten that each and every country Japan invaded were turned into bloodbaths. I don’t know if the author knew that the US end game in the Philippines before WW2 started and ended, was to give the Philippines its independence. Now I will agree the US was not a great “landlord” in the early parts of the 1900’s, but the massive public works, education, infrastructure and other areas of progress made, at least in my opinion, the Philippines have the highest standard of living in Asia. MacArthur agonized over the decision to unleash the artillery and bombing of Manila, but he knew how many Filipinos were being slaughtered. While I was living in Nueva Ecija, I asked many Filipinos how they felt about MacArthur’s order to fire on Manila, and not one Filipino told me that they were angry over it, most felt it was a necessary evil given the attrocities of the Japanese. Many also said they most likely would never have been born. The author seems to also forget the 14,000 graves of US soldiers buried in the US cemetary in the heart of Manila as to the US’s committment to Philippine liberation. I am not by any means saying the US was perfect, you and I both know we are far from that, but no other country came to the aid of the Philippines like the US did in their dire time of need, and independence was granted soon after WW2’s conclusion, as it had been planned long before, only WW2 interupted the timetable. I myself love the Philippines and I know how most Filipinos feel about the US and her involvment during WW2…..take this blog with a grain of salt and forget about it, the author’s feelings are in the minority…

      • hechoayer says:

        Hello dear reader.

        I did not mention neither did I deny anything regarding America’s contribution pre-war or post-war. That wasn’t the topic of my entry in the first place.
        It is no denying that the Americans played a significant role in the development of our country before the War – a development heavily reliant on the favorable market and political schemes that were popular among our American colonizers.

        I will stick to the fact that the bombings over Manila during the Battle for Manila greatly contributed to the destruction of the city.

      • I will agree with that Hechoayer, do you understand why it was done? Do you know what happend in the hospitol in Manila?…Manila was considered by many historians as the 2nd most destroyed city of WW2. Will you consider how the Filipino citizens would have fared had MacArthur not destroyed the Japanese within the city? You did not address anything of the things I asked Filipinos of their opinions of MacArthur’s order to shell and bomb the Japanese still holding parts of Manila. It seems to Hechoayer that you don’t like the decision of MacArthur. Do you disagree with the decsion to shell and bomb the city?…

      • hechoayer says:

        Since history evolves and develops from events that happened in the past – a past I was not part of – I can only infer or conclude from things that have been identified as pieces of evidence. It might have been “right” for MacArthur during those days to order the shelling of the city. But today, in hindsight, 70 years since it happened, there are more opportunities to critique decisions made in the past. For example, why was there a need for the shells or facades of churches and historic buildings to be destroyed or bulldozed? Did you know the Americans originally wanted to tear down the remaining facade of the Manila Cathedral? Obviously it was a safety risk but wasn’t there any other way to preserve it? Did they even care of preserving what was left of the city?

      • No I do not know why some were saved and some were not. I do not know the answer as to specific buildings. You live there right?, maybe there were Filipino engineers that made those decsions? Were they totally American decsions as to what buildings were deemed too far gone and which ones were worth saving? Do you know if it was a totally American decison?….I would think, but do not know, that Filipinos had input as those types of decisions…Its your blog, aren’t you supposed to find out if one of your readers asks?….or do you just keep turning it around as the Americans always the “uncaring liberator”?….seems to me thats your unwritten message here, that the Americans did not care one way or the other…

      • Filipinismo says:

        @ WWII History user. The tone you are wanting to send is that America should be deemed the “savior” of Manila and the Philippines against Japanese aggression. So the idea that the US be blamed for the destruction of Manila is what you are contesting. But the facts remain, the US is and was responsible for the Philippines and it’s well being. This became true the minute that the US invaded the islands after the Spanish-American war and the consequential Philippine-American war.

        By its imperial greed it assumed owner of its land and of its people. But let’s make this question a more practice one…if the same situation occurred by which Japan had concurred the state of Virginia; and thousands of Japanese were entrenched and cornered from all sides in Washington DC, would the American government destroy its capital in a month long bombardment of the city? Let alone assist in the careless killing of its own citizens in the exchange of fire between US and Japanese forces? Or would other options have been taken into consideration? Maybe invade the Japan main land and force it’s surrender before destroying its own capital? The answer is obvious…while it is unfortunate that thousands of American forces lost their lives in the effort to liberate the islands, one must remember that those same lives were placed in that position by an egotistical General (McArthur) who firmly believed in the end justifies the means type of military tactic. This is not to say that we Filipinos do not have any gratitude towards the effort, but let’s keep things in perspective.

        Truth is America saw the Philippines as expendable in the effort of winning its war against Japan. We Filipinos and our land were just pawns in that road to US victory against her enemy.
        We Filipinos, as subjects of the US and our land as her territory, gave far more to her and her people in terms lives and our eventual future post WWII than the US has has done for us. The gratitude should be given to the Filipinos for having supported the US against Japan and not having sided with the Japanese during a time when we ourselves stood as a colonized people by Imperial America for almost 50 yrs at that point. A fact that Americans tend to conveniently forget.

      • You are just like the author of this blog, you like to lay the blame on everyone else but the invader. Sure there are parts of the US occupation that in early part of the century I am not proud of, but the Philippine-American war was against Spainish sympathizers that were holding the Philipinnes back from becoming a modern country. The US implemented all those massive public works projects that made farming much more profitable for Filipino farmers. The infrastructure improvements of water, power and especially the sewage system that virtually eliminated the Cholera epidemic that was rampant at the time. The Spainards held the Philippines for 400 years, and in all that time what good did they do? They gave you architecture? They bred themselves into your women, the only redeeming quality left by Spain is Christianity. After the US left in 1946 and the rebuilding completed a few years later, Manila was the most modern country along with a rebuilt Tokyo in all of Asia. Its sad you don’t even know much of your own history…and I lived in the Philippines for awhile, married a Filipino girl and we both live in the US now…so yea, I do know…

      • hechoayer says:

        I will not bother replying to this comment because it is bereft of proof or solid arguments that can support your claim that we weren’t “modern” before the Americans came. But I will leave you with one (of the count) piece of evidence to prove your mistaken perception: most of our first illustrious nationalists and patriots were educated abroad, in the great universities of Europe. I ask you, how were they able to study there? It’s because the Philippines – as compared to other colonies in this part of the world – had a relatively high literacy rate that gave our forefathers the fighting chance to enter Europe’s venerable and old universities.

      • @Filipinismo…No, I do not contest that the US forces had a big hand in the destruction of Manila, and yes, I actually do think the ends justify the means. The Japanese were not going to be eliminated by Filipino forces alone. The Filipinos forces fought well alongside the US soldiers, all one has to do is read about the history of the Philippines Campaign to know this. As I stated before, I talked with quite a few Filipinos during the time I lived in Nueva Ecija and not one I talked with has the viewpoint as you or the author of this blog that the US just indescriminately started destroying Manila. You do realize that the Japanese were still executing Filipino civilians even as the US 37th Division closed in on the pockets of Japanese resistance, the Japanese slaughtered all those wounded Filipinos in the Hospitol and killed all the doctors, raping and killing the nurses, those Jesuit Priests were executed. The Japanese had to be stopped by the most expediant means necessary, and I don’t know how many more times I have to say this, its terribly regrettable that such large sections of Manila that were destroyed. You do know of the roving bands of Filipinos that followed right behind the leading elements of US soldiers in taking back the city who were telling the US soldiers where the Japanese were holed up and these same Filipinos looted what they could, when they could…but I cannot say I blame them much. The US did make sure the water pumping stations remained operational in many parts of the city along with electricity. Not sure how much of the history you know compared to me, but thousands died of the US and of Filipinos, they’re end goal was to defeat Japan…and it was accomplished. Do I have to say it again?…I will, It is very regrettable that large parts of Manila were destroyed and I wish Manila would have been rebuilt long before Tokyo, the Japanese didn’t deserve a dam thing, the Philippines deserved it due to the Filipinos fighting and dying alonside US soldiers

        I have long felt the Filipins themselves did great things fighting the Japanese and assisting US forces and I have come very fond of the Philippines and her people, I married a beautiful Filipino woman, I showed her this blog, she knows of my passion of WW2 history and also does not feel as you or the author does, she knows it was a necessary evil in the destruction of Manila, many subsequent generations of Filipinos owe their lives to US and the Filipino forces defeat of Japan’s brutal occupation…maybe you should vent your frustrations against Japan, a country that denies almost all WW2 history, they only part of WW2 they do not deny is the parts where they feel as they were the victim…as they do about the whole history of WW2, the Japanese deny the killed any US or Filipino POW’s during the “Bataan Death March”…The Japanese to this day are attempting the rewrite of history to portray themselves as the victims of WW2…when you and I both know they started it…and were the aggressor…

      • One last thing…Hecho, why do you not have any ill-will towards the Japanese who were brutal in the extreme towards innocent Filipinos, the Japs also had MUCH to do with the destruction of Manila. MacArthur told them they would be given a free path from the city in 1945, the same way as MacArthur declared Manila an “open city” in 1941 so as to prevent as much damage as possible. I have a feeling your feelings of this are misdirected, the US came to the Philippines aid in a dire time of need. Japan came as conquerers and occupiers and killed hundreds of thousands of filipinos for the smallest of infractions. So many Americans died to give your islands back, taken away by a brutal occupier, and in 1946, the islands were totally yours….In my own opinion, I just wish Manila was rebuilt long before Tokyo, to me the Japs deserved nothing…the people of the Philippines deserved everything…..that is one of a few areas I am truly sorry over…but you need to direct your “angers” towards the now very revisionist minded Japanese that push blame on everyone else but themselves…the agressor, the instigator of the war in the Pacific…the cause of the deaths of 138,000 Allied POW’s under Japanese care…and many of that number includes Filipinos…

      • hechoayer says:

        Hello. I believe you read the blog, right?

        So I am assuming you saw these things in the entry:

        “However, Rear Admiral Iwabuchi Sanji disobeyed the orders of his superior and launched a bloody and diabolical campaign to “defend” Manila to the end. With his motley group of Japanese soldiers, a month of suffering and sheer darkness engulfed the city of Manila, victimizing its citizens, its art, its culture, its heritage, its very soul…

        …the losing Japanese soldiers who became insanely cruel, killing people with no mercy.

        …the remaining soldiers in Manila, a good 10,000 marines, proceeded what would become infamously known as the “Manila Massacre”. Every morning, the soldiers would get heavily drunk before the roamed the city to kill civilians found in the streets. They began to set beautiful Filipino homes on fire (Ermita, Singalong and Malate became the worst hit residential areas), raid schools, kill orphans and even the mentally challenged…

        … the Japanese violated women, raping Filipina ladies, preferring the young and mestiza-looking ones. They stabbed pregnant women, raped the foreign nuns and began bayoneting babies. Many accounts say how infants were thrown in the air only to be stabbed and impaled by Japanese soldiers’ swords. Men were immediately shot. Monks, priests, brothers and seminarians, in their cassocks and robes were grouped together, thrown a grenade at or shot. Irish and Spanish De La Salle brothers held in De La Salle Taft’s college chapel, with about two clans seeking refuge there, were coldly murdered by a marauding group of Japanese in an evening raid…”

        What are you saying that my entry seemingly absolves them of their bestial violence?

      • Thats fine if you do not want to respond, your blog in this subject is filled with ONLY your opinions that US soldiers just wantonly destroyed Manila. I know many many more Filipinos that do not share your opinions. The way I mentioned “modern” wasn’t meant to be taken as you did. The rates of literacy boomed after 1900, and just about every country sent their best and brightest to universities in the US and Europe, and have been doing so long before. All I was meaning about the Philippines being modern was that it was more modern after US help. I don’t understand your aggravation with the US over some of these issues, sure the US is not perfect, far from it, but the Philippines are the same. My Filipino wife says the corruption is the Philippines biggest problem now, she says the politicians get into office to steal as much money as they can before they’re either not elected again or arrested. I remember a big trial of someone I can’t remember his name at the moment during the time I was living on Luzon from January 2012 to August 2012 who was on trial for taking government funds and funneling them into his accounts. That is neither here nor there as to this post, all I’m saying your hatred for the US isn’t the way most Filipinos view the US in what has happend in the past…you are definately in the minority….sorry Mr. Hechoayer, but its how I view your blog which you have every right to…but then so do I…

    • I see you wrote about what the Japanese did, but you did not give your feelings towards all the heinous acts. I gave mine, the Japanese given the attrocities they were committing as US and Filipino forces moved in. What are YOUR feelings towards the Japanese?….What are YOUR feelings of the US as liberators?

      I said in an earlier response that I don’t think you are giving the Japanese enough blame in the destruction of the many many great buildings in Manila. To me it seems you want to lay MORE blame on the US and/or MacArthur, when had the Japanese never set foot in the Philippines, the massive fight to take back the islands and cities would never have taken place…

  7. Mols says:

    Reader Joe Burns is spot-on. And so are these two Filipino writers debunking the above author’s well-meaning but ill-researched assessment: http://lifestyle.inquirer.net/89277/yamashitas-guilt-korean-atrocity-other-misconceptions-about-liberation-of-manila
    http://battleofmanila.org/Parsons/htm/parsons_02.htm

    Plus excerpts from an excellent article in the 3/2014 issue of Armchair General magazine by Dr. Jerry D. Morelock, who cites compelling reasons behind MacArthur’s decision to liberate Manila, not based on his ego but on the strategic situation on Luzon and on sound military logic:
    YAMASHITA’S ARMY. Yamashita, with his 200,000 troops, had fled to northern Luzon to make a last stand, leaving Admiral Iwabuchi in command of 20,000 soldiers and sailors in the city. Only a foolish commander would have willingly left this major opposing force at his back when setting out to confront the main enemy – and MacArthur was anything but foolish.
    LOGISTICS. After the Luzon campaign began, a top priorty for MacArthur’s forces was to open a major port to handle the massive logistics necessary to fully support combat operation so as not to face same problems that plagued Eisenhower’s D-Day invasion. Manila is the finest natural harbor in the Orient. Other factors were: RESCUING INTERNEES/POWS MARKED FOR DEATH; RETURNING THE CAPITAL TO THE LEGITIMATE PHILIPPINE GOVERNMENT; and IWABUCHI BENT ON AVENGING HIS SHAMEFUL DEFEAT OFF GUADALCANAL IN 1942.

    • Céo Lusterio says:

      I believe that the writer’s point was missed. While it is easy to get lost in the emotional aspect of what country/tries were responsible for such a tragic event, trivializing facts in a manner that ignores the sentiments of post WWII generations of Filipinos is simply distasteful. A people whome will never experience their right to connect and ground themselves to a city that has lost it’s identity and “soul” is what is being revealed here. Point is it was a war between Japan and the US, of which an entire nation of people outside if these two became the battleground by which countless lives and irreplaceable amounts of works grounded in cultural advancements through centuries of accumulated work were lost. Yes the Japanese were responsible for brining the war into Filipino shores, however the American decision to assit in destroying Manila reveals an altogether different agenda by the US government. Do not forget that all major cities in Filipinas were bomed and destroyed by US shells in the guise of defeating the Japanese. This was dileberate as Filipinas was due to be granted independence from its colonial master: the US. Destroying Manila was a strategic innitiative to perpetuate dependence to US dominance in the region. As Truman who came into power were backed by certain lobiests and capitalist who further needed access to resources to expand their profit motif. Filipino economy was so destroyed that in granting “independence” to Filipinos came with a heavy price tag: US corps would be given equal rights to Filipinos to exploit resources in Filipinas, inclusion of 2 of the largest US military bases in the world (Clark and Subic), etc. So if we take out the brave soldiers (both Filipinos and Americans) as a component of justification of Manila’s distruction and focus mainly in how both people’s became the means (or the tool) used to propel US corporation agendas; well then, a bigger and clearer picture emerges. So pls, with cherry on top…attempt to view the author’s point of view simply from a concerned Filipino patriot who has learned of how he lost and will never experience a city who is convincingly dear to him in a way which can ground him to a glorious past. Though I will pose this argument to the author as there is an error in his post: I am not certain; more in fact I am confident that la alma de la Gran Ciudad de Manila is not lost nor has it died. No amount of shells can make that happen….I know of this because of this same very author of whom I just had the pleasure of reading from. Hecho Ayer…Manila and her soul lives in you and me! You are not alone in this endevour to debunk our past (especially the Hispano part). Thank you and to others for not forgetting to remember our most tragic history of Manila.

      • Joe Burns says:

        Mr. Lusterio seems to have drunk from the same Kool-Aid trough that is most popular among most America bashers these days. War between just Japan and the US??? FACT: Japan marched its troops through every Asian country from Korea and China, right down to the tip of Australia. Every Japanese politician and commander that survived the war admitted that the Philippines was on its list of conquest, and the fact that it was occupied by the United States was an unfortunate coincidence for THEM. Japan made war on every country that stood in it’s way of the conquest of Asia. As I recall, there were over 22 nations represented on the deck of the USS Missouri Sep. 2, 1945, when the Japanese signed their unconditional surrender. FACT: The US marched out of Manila, thereby sparing the city in ’41-42, when its defense was deemed hopeless. Yamashita claimed he gave the same order in 1945, when the tables were turned, but that order was ignored by the die hard Japanese defenders, and the loss of life among Americans, Japanese, and civilians reflect that. The writer implies that the destruction of Manila was a calculated one for some crazy post-war economic or political reasons. I’ll bet he also believes in the tooth fairy too! FACT: The Japanese plan was to grab all they could in the Pacific, and hope we would sue for peace within 6 months of Pearl Harbor and actually negotiate the Philippines and all their other conquests away!
        How’d that work out for them? The writer would be better served cracking a few history books and spend less time on YouTube conspiracy theories. Oh…and 9-11 was an inside job. NOT!

  8. aaron says:

    this particular writing of yours is several years old already but it still tugs a sad chord in my heart

  9. The Memetrix says:

    Reblogged this on The Memetrix.

  10. jose says:

    Cada vez que leo algo sobre estas masacres inútiles y sin sentido, me pongo físicamente malo.
    Desgraciadamente la imperial Manila, la muy noble y siempre leal capital y ciudad primada de estas Islas Filipinas, ya no existe nunca más, y con ella se ha ido para siempre una civilización única en el mundo basada en la hidalguia castellana y la raza malaya, el español de México y la Religión Católica, los chinos de sangley y los miles de viajeros de todas partes que vinieron atraidos por su resplandor en busca de una vida mejor. Esta civilización se puede resumir en una única palabra: “delicadeza.”
    Es curioso que Filipinas nació antes que Estados Unidos, Santo Tomás antes que Harvard, la diócesis de Manila antes que cualquiera otra de los Estados Unidos, la civilización filipina, antes que la usense. Por eso Filipinas es “vieja” y América, “moderna”.
    Seguramente ha habido motivos coloniales en borrar la presencia hispana de las islas. Pero yo me fijaría en esas postales americanas que retratan el “nuevo Cebú” construido sobre el “viejo Cebú” hispano-malayo: hablan de “nuevo”, “moderno”, “verde (?)”. Es la civilización del progreso y la modernidad llevada a las Filipinas por los nuevos amos, como la coca cola, las call girls y el burger king. ¡Fuera lo viejo! ¡Paso al siglo XX !
    ¡Que lejos quedan la música de Tomás Luis de Victoria, o los estudiosos aficionados del Observatorio, que predecían tifones, o los poetas que cantaban a la sanpaguita !
    Parece que el destino de la humanidad es sufrir los Hunos (The scourge of God ), o los Japoneses o los Americanos…o quien venga detrás.
    Bien, queda la esperanza, por que detrás de cada destrucción siempre ha habido alguien que se ha levantado y ha empezado a crear, a estudiar, a amar…
    Creo que mientras las filipinas sigan vistiéndose de María Clara, aunque sea en las fiestas, estamos a salvo.

  11. Mj Escobar says:

    I always loved the nostalgic feeling brought about by the old photos and footage of what was once a great Manila. Honestly, i teared-up from this article since it shows the frustration brought about by war-time atrocities. I would give anything to see the Manila that once struck the Westerners with awe; (not with disgust and poor acclaim that today’s Manila posed to its visitors) and you sir, gave that passage to me. Long live the Philippines! Long live Manila! God bless you Sir!

  12. ronaldo adoptante says:

    Nice presentation including heart wrenching photos but like Joe Burns and Mols…its unfair to blame the americans in the bombings to eradicate the holed-in Japs…they could be blame of course in the bulldozing of what remains in the aftermath but its a frantic time to clear the rubbles and start anew no matter how nostalgic and sublime the reasons could be…The war was raging in this part of Asia and being under the Americans just added more to the destruction but still under or out of America doesn’t make any difference at all because the JIA’s mission was to be the master of Asia anyway…Iwabuchi and his men were the loose mortars that started it all…Wars are always cruel and it just so happened that the Japs who defended the city to the last man opened a fateful abyss and it was the liberating Americans who sealed it…

  13. ronaldo adoptante says:

    Until now…i could nome not imagine how a cultured and rich populace like Manilans kept their bums at the comfort of their homes…missiles and bombs don’t know any distinction whether its friends or foes…I remember an article written by a Swiss guy who was raised in the PH and later fell out of the Marcoses that many Filipino elites bribed Japanese officials with diamonds and gold bars so that their fathers, brothers, sons and boyfriends will not be picked up or incarcerated…did they do the same thing that’s why they did not leave the comfort of their homes..thinking that the diamonds and gold bars will keep them safe inside their concrete fences and barricaded walls (this last sentence is purely mine and not meant to offend anyone)

  14. Bob says:

    I thought that apples were tasty before reading this but now when i eat when it reminds me of all of the dead during the bombing of manila(Reply if you cry every time )`:)

  15. Joe Rousé says:

    Great post. My Grandmother’s son and brother were killed when they were hit by shrapnel from American artillery fire.

    http://www.rappler.com/newsbreak/iq/82850-americans-destroyed-manila-1945

    “After the War, many old-timers would claim that everyone had turned into animals…The destruction of the city’s physical edifices also caused the destruction of the country’s Catholic values, Hispanic culture, and even basic good manners. To this day, we are suffering the effects of the destruction of Manila. From the lack of interest and sense of connection to the city, to the despicable urban plans or lack of for the city of Manila to the seeming banality of life in Manila (i.e. the domination of the consumerist “mall culture”), we continue to lose our pride of place.” (De Jesus, 2013)

  16. Pingback: Manila Metropolitan Theater | Joy Celine Asto Photography

  17. Mica says:

    Loving your blog Quins! We’re using it for reference for our research!

  18. Céo Lusterio says:


    Was the U.S. destruction of Manila necessary? This video answers that question.

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