"When those of us, who lived through those days, die...
the world will forget..."
These were the words that greeted us on the exhibit of the Philippine Veterans Bank called "War of Our Fathers"
Almost all of us, if not all, have a relative who fought in World War II. In my case it is my grandfather. I was named after him that's why have "II" in my name. My lolo was part of the Philippine Army and fought in World War II as a Lieutenant in Samar. Former president Ferdinand Marcos also fought in World War II as a Lieutenant in Northern Luzon. In 1953 lolo fought in the Korean War together with former president Fidel Ramos. In 1966 he died as Major in Laur, Nueva Ecija, a week before his departure to Vietnam. I never got to know my lolo in person but I remember my father's story how they have to eat at home like soldiers in stomach-in-chest-out position; clinking sound in the dining table while eating was forbidden.
The exhibit showed pictures of what happened throughout the Philippines during World War II and there were memorabilia also on display. Let me share with you some of it woven in the timeline of events of the war.
- December 1898 - After the U.S won the Spanish-American war, the U.S. purchased the Philippines from Spain for $20 million (USD) as part of the Treaty of Paris.
- June 12, 1898 - Emilio Aguinaldo declared the independence of the Philippines and became the first president.
- February 4, 1899 - American soldier William Grayson shot a Filipino soldier who was crossing a bridge into a Filipino-occupied territory in San Juan del Monte, an incident historians now consider to be the start of the Philippine-American war.
- March 23, 1901 - The US proclaimed the war ended when Emilio Aguinaldo was captured by American troops.
- 1937 - Douglas MacArthur, who had retired as U.S. Army Chief of Staff, accepted and was tasked by the Philippine Government to reform the Philippine Army.
- July 7, 1937 - The Empire of Japan invaded China, starting the Pacific Theater of World War II.
- September 1, 1939, Germany, led by Adolf Hitler and the Nazi Party invaded Poland and started the European Theatre of World War II
- September 27, 1940 - Japan signed the Tripartite Pact with Germany and Italy. The pact founded the Axis Powers of World War II.
- December 7, 1941 - Japanese bomb Pearl Harbor, Hawaii; also attack the Philippines, Wake Island, Guam, Malaya, Thailand, Shanghai and Midway.
- December 10, 1941 - Japanese invade the Philippines.
- December 22, 1941 - Japanese invade Luzon.
- December 23, 1941 - General Douglas MacArthur begins a withdrawal from Manila to Bataan.
- December 26, 1941 - Manila declared an open city to prevent its destruction but the Japanese bomb Manila the next day.
- January 2, 1942 - Manila and U.S. Naval base at Cavite was captured by the Japanese.
- January 7, 1942 - Japanese attack Bataan.
- February 22, 1942 - President Franklin D. Roosevelt orders General MacArthur out of the Philippines.
- March 11, 1942 - MacArthur left the Philippines and flew to Australia. There he vowed, “I shall return.”
- April 9, 1942 - U.S. forces on Bataan surrender unconditionally to the Japanese.
- April 10, 1942 - Bataan Death March begins as 76,000 Allied POWs including 12,000 Americans are forced to walk 60 miles without food or water toward Camp O'Donnell in Capas, Tarlac.
- May 6, 1942 - Japanese take Corregidor as Gen. Wainwright unconditionally surrenders all U.S. and Filipino forces in the Philippines.
- May 12, 1942 - The last U.S. Troops holding out in the Philippines surrender on Mindanao.
Thus began more than three years of harsh treatment in the Philippines. During this period MacArthur supplied weapons, radios, magazines and propaganda materials to the Filipino guerrilla resistance by submarine and airdrops, so they could harass the Japanese, provide intelligence reports and keep control of the rural jungle and mountain areas.
Unique to the Philippines, Guerilla or Emergency Notes were printed during World War II by Guerilla Forces in the municipalities and provinces where they operated. Made under unfavorable conditions they were printed with whatever materials were available that time. Possession of these notes was punishable by death or torture by the Japanese.
A woman guerilla in Marawi, Lanao del Sur, shares her food with a fellow guerilla.
- October 20, 1944 - U.S. Sixth Army invades Leyte. General MacArthur and President Sergio Osmena stride up the beach of Leyte to set up the Philippine government on Philippine soil again. They came ashore shortly after the first wave and were accompanied by Lt. Gen. Sutherland and Brig. Gen. Carlos Romulo. Via radio, he addressed the Philippine people. “I have returned. By the grace of Almighty God our forces stand again on Philippine soil – soil consecrated in the blood of our two peoples. We have come, dedicated and committed, to the task of destroying every vestige of enemy control over your daily lives, and of restoring, upon a foundation of indestructible, strength, the liberties of your people."
"This is the voice of freedom, General Douglas MacArthur speaking. People of the Philippines, I have returned! By the grace of Almighty God, our forces stand again on Philippine soil -- soil consecrated in the blood of our two people. At my side is your president, Sergio Osmena, a worthy successor of that great patriot, Manuel Quezon...the seat of your government is now, therefore, firmly re-established on Philippine soil. The hour of your redemption is here...Rally to me. Let the indomitable spirit of Bataan and Corregidor lead on. As the lines of battle roll forward to bring you within the zone of operations, rise and strike. Strike at every favorable opportunity. For your homes and hearths, strike! For future generations of your sons and daughters, strike! In the name of your sacred dead, strike! Let no heart be faint. Let every arm be steeled. The guidance of Divine God points the way. Follow in His name to the Holy Grail of righteous victory.""I shall return" propaganda badges with the Philippine flag in war-time orientation kept the people's hope alive during the Japanese occupation. Leaflets saying:
"Clear the way for the fighting men."
"Don't block the roads. If you must leave your towns go across country or over trails"
"Filipinos! American planes are bombing and strafing this area. Remember, we don't want to hurt you but bombs cannot tell friend from foe. Stay away from all military targets: buildings, supply dumps, bridges and all installations used by the Japs. Keep off the roads!"
- October 23-26, 1944 - Battle of Leyte Gulf results in a decisive U.S. Naval victory.
- October 25, 1944 - The first suicide air (Kamikaze) attacks occur against U.S. warships in Leyte Gulf.
- December 15, 1944 - U.S. Troops invade Mindoro in the Philippines.
- December 17, 1944 - The U.S. Army Air Force begins preparations for dropping the Atomic Bomb by establishing the 509th Composite Group to operate the B-29s that will deliver the bomb.
- January 9, 1945 - U.S. Sixth Army invades Lingayen Gulf.
Left: MacArthur with other American officers and some Dagupenas on the balcony of the West Central Elementary School's Home Economics building.
Right: MacArthur surveying downtown Dagupan with aides and residents.
- February 3, 1945 - The 511th Parachute Regiment (a part of the U.S. 11th Airborne Division) prepares for a combat drop in Tagaytay Ridge. This became the site of the first parachute landing in the Philippines. The monument now found in Tagaytay Rotonda commemorates this event.
- February 3, 1945 - U.S. Sixth Army attacks Japanese in Manila. Manila was the only city in which Japanese and Allied forces collided. The results were unspeakable: an estimated 100,000 of its citizens died. In the entire World War II, only the battles of Berlin and Stalingrad resulted in more casualties.
- February 16, 1945 - U.S. Troops recapture Bataan.
- February 23, 1945 - 2,000 Civilians Set Free By Daring Raid at Los Baños. MacArthur ordered raids to free prisoners in internment camps ahead of the attacking American forces, for fear that Japanese might slaughter them before they are rescued. One of these internment camp was the University of the Philippines in Los Baños, Laguna where more than 2,000 civilians were held prisoner since the beginning of the war. Filipino guerrilla groups operating in the area helped the Americans. The successful rescue composed of 54 amphibious Amtracs, nine C-47 Skytrain transport aircraft that was carrying paratroopers and 5 ground teams.
- March 2, 1945 - U.S. airborne troops recapture Corregidor.
- March 3, 1945 - U.S. And Filipino troops take Manila.
- April 27, 1945 - The operation to liberate Baguio City provided the route to advance and penetrate the mountain stronghold of General Yamashita. The guerilla force of the USAFIP NL and the Sixth Army secured the city. From the air, Baguio City was completely devastated by the war. The only standing structure was the Baguio Cathedral in the heart of the city (near center of the photo below)
- May 8, 1945 - Victory in Europe.
- July 5, 1945 - Liberation of Philippines declared.
- July 16, 1945 - First Atomic Bomb is successfully tested in the U.S.
- August 6, 1945 - First Atomic Bomb dropped on Hiroshima.
- August 9, 1945 - Second Atomic Bomb is dropped on Nagasaki. Emperor Hirohito and Japanese Prime Minister Suzuki then decide to seek immediate peace with the Allies.
- August 14, 1945 - Japanese accept unconditional surrender.
- September 2, 1945 - Formal Japanese surrender ceremony on board the MISSOURI in Tokyo Bay as 1,000 carrier-based planes fly overhead.
- September 3, 1945 - The Japanese commander in the Philippines, Gen. Yamashita, surrenders to Gen. Wainwright at Camp John Hay, Baguio.
A copy of the Instrument of Surrender signed by General Tomiyuki Yamashita, the highest commander of the Imperial Japanese Army in the Philippines, Denhici Okochi, the highest commander of the Imperial Japanese Navy in the Philippines and Maj. Gen. Edmond Leavy, deputy commander of the United States Army Forces of the Western Pacific. An armband of the Military Police during the Japanese occupation is on the lower left corner.Filipinos rejoice on news about the Japanese surrender. A picture of General Tomiyuki Yamashita is on the right side photo.
- October 24, 1945 - The United Nations was born.
Let me leave you with a quote from Albert Einstein.
"I do not know with what weapons World War III will be fought, but World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones."