Friday, September 10, 2010

War of Our Fathers, A Painful Reckoning

There is a great deal of soul searching and emotional outburst over Japan’s war exploits that led to the second World War. Old folks in their late sixties may fail to comprehend the atrocities and sufferings of the people of the time experienced but the pain runs deep.

I was one of those war time babies who suck fear with the milk from my mother. Recalling the misdeeds of foreign invaders from the lips of my parents and relatives may be touching but visually capturing them on canvass sends a strong message of dissent and discomfort.

Japan’s military adventurism in Asia began with the Korea peninsula and spread to China, Indonesia, Malaysia and Indochina. All was very successful because of weak resistance. In the theater of war, Nazi Germany dominated its European neighbors from France to the Baltic States and beyond the Urals down to Greece. Evidently, what stood in its path of world domination is the United States.

Sneak attack by Japan of Pearl Harbor, Honolulu, Hawaii on December 8, 1941 netted initial victory. Evidently, that was simultaneous with the bombings in the Philippines against vital US military installations. That created chaos and confusion among Filipinos who fervently desired peace, not war.

Little did the Japanese Imperial Forces know that they have awakened a sleeping giant. Neither were they aware of the Filipino spirit of tenacity and willingness to shed blood even in the face of overwhelming odds.

Five months after the attack of Pearl Harbor, the Philippines was under Japanese occupation. The reign of terror inflicted on hapless civilians and the military was a daily bloodbath of massacre, rape and mayhem. Death march from Mariveles, Bataan to Capas, Tarlac and ensuing incarceration extracted a third of an estimated total of 80,000 Filipino and American freedom fighters.

Fillipino guerillas with the aid of American logistics sprouted like mushrooms all over the country. Notables were the Marking Guerilla group headed by Marcos Agustin, Hukbalahap – Luis Taruc, Guerillas of Panay – Macario Peralta, Palawan Special Battalion – Major Pablo Muyco and Womens’ Auxiliary Service.

Liberation Day of American naval landings on October 20, 1944 in Palo, Leyte followed in Lingayen, Pangasinan were greeted by euphoria. Japan under the command of Gen. Yamashita surrendered to Gen. Douglas McArthur in Tokyo Bay, Japan on August 20, 1945. It also ended its sinister plan of Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere. Obviously, plans although noble in itself did not jibe with violence and destruction.

Exhibition of black and white photographs, video presentation and recovered artifacts of World War II are now on display at Museo It Akean titled "War of our Fathers". Actually, a painful reckoning is presented by Philippines Veterans Bank and Veterans Federation of the Philippines. A million thanks for this rare opportunity. It is a must see show for young and old alike. Admission is free. The exhibits runs from September 4 – 15, 2010. /MP

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