HOW do Japanese view the Rape of Manila? For Mina Watanabe, director, Women’s Active Museum on War and Peace (Avaco Bldg 2F, 2-3-18, Nishi-Waseda, Shinjuku, Tokyo 169-0051 Japan): “The year 2020 marks the 75th anniversary of the Battle of Manila and the Imperial Japan’s defeat in World War II. As a museum dedicated to passing on the memory and records of wartime sexual violence, especially of Japan’s military sexual slavery system, the Women’s Active Museum on War and Peace (WAM) expresses our deepest condolences once again to the people of the Philippines who deceased in the war, and our determination to pass on the history of Japan’s brutal invasion as well as the appalling crimes Japan committed during the occupation of the Philippines from December 1941 to August 1945.
“In recent years, we have been hearing the sad news of the passing away one by one of the courageous survivors who came forward as victims of rape and sexual enslavement by the Japanese military. Every year on August 14, we hold a commemorative ceremony at the entrance of our museum, sharing the memories of each woman who had had a strong will for truth and justice. Although history textbooks used in Japan had no reference on the Battle of Manila nor the rape and sexual enslavement of girls and women in the Philippines, we believe it is imperative to hear and record their voices and pass on the history in order not to repeat the same crimes again.”
“We are determined to remember and pass on to the future generations Japan’s past wrongdoing and to take action in solidarity with the people in the Philippines for peace in the Asia-Pacific region.”
Instructive and appreciated was this statement by Ms. Mina Watanabe. While the hordes of Hirohito were raping the Pearl of the Orient, Filipino partisans and their American comrades were obliterating the threats posed by the enemy elsewhere in Greater Manila. In particular, that of the Japanese Imperial Marines and straggling Japanese Imperial Army-men south of Pasig: “In the meantime, the 11th Airborne Division, after a successful landing in Tagaytay, advanced until they joined the first wave at the southern approaches to the capital through Baclaran and Nichols Field. They mopped up these areas, destroying 100 Japanese fighter planes and capturing 75 pieces of artillery and 112 machineguns.
They then proceeded towards Pasay.” [Entry for February 20, 1945, Diary of Juan Labrador, O.P.] More on the Liberation of Taguig and Battle of Fort McKinley from Rhett Daza, President, Hunters-ROTC Historical Society:
“In the final days of the war, the Hunters 47th ROTC Division under Lt. Col. Emmanuel de Ocampo and Hunter town units supported by the US 11th Airborne Division fought the Japanese Manila Naval Command under Admiral Iwabuchi for control of the high ground commanding Manila. This has become known as the Battle of Fort Mckinley and Nichols Field.
“After their defeat in Leyte Gulf, the Japanese Navy reconstituted itself as a land force and positioned their naval guns in Fort Mckinley to halt the Allied advance in the Philippines.
The Japanese had transformed Fort Mckinley into one of the most heavily armed fortifications of the Pacific War. The Japanese deployed their veteran Japanese Imperial Marines, naval troops and some Kempetai to muster some 3,000 troops to defend Fort Mckinley and Nichols Field.
“The battle was begun on February 4 by the US 11th Airborne. On February 10, the Hunters took command of the battlefield with their forces stretched from Manila Bay in Paranaque to Laguna Lake in Taguig. The 47th ROTC Division was composed of 12 over-sized companies: the Hunter 48th Special Regiment, three 47th ROTC Div. HQ companies, two companies from Taguig, and troops coming from Bailen, Indang, Magallanes, Naic, and Muntinlupa totaling 2500 men, with town units from Paranaque and Pasay.
“With the Japanese encirclement completed by the US 1st Cavalry in the north and with the support of Markings and FAIT Guerrillas across Pasig River, the Hunters launched their offensive on February 12. The guerrillas of the Hunters fought day and night against the battle-hardened Japanese troops. Victory was won on February 19, 1945 with the capture of the last Japanese position in Hagonoy, Taguig.
“In memory of this great battle which led to the ultimate liberation of the Philippines and the men and women who won over the Japanese invaders, the Philippine Army parade ground in Fort Bonifacio was proudly dedicated to the Hunters-ROTC Guerrillas and named the Hunters-ROTC Parade Ground.”
At the same time, across Manila Bay, there was payback. “On Corregidor, the enemy garrison has been practically destroyed. More than 1700 dead having been buried with the count only partially completed. Only isolated remnants holed up in caves now remain to be mopped up.” [G.H.Q. Southwest Pacific Area Communique No. 1051, 22 February 1945].
No less than a Filipino Commander-in-Chief explained the event: “In mid-February 1945, two regimental combat teams, the 1st RCT and the 151st RCT, secured the southern half of the Bataan Peninsula with the help of Filipino guerrillas. Then amphibious assaults on Corregidor began on February 16, led by the 3rd Battalion of the US 34th Infantry Division.
On the same day, planes carrying the 503rd Parachute Infantry Regiment, led by Colonel George Jones, mounted at Mindoro, dropped combat paratroopers at the topside area of Corregidor starting at 8:30 a.m. This was the great surprise—what proved eventually to be the big difference. By the end of the day, the airborne force had captured the topside area. The amphibious force for its part had seized Malinta Hill. Ten days of intense infighting followed. By February 27 organized resistance on Corregidor had ceased.”
The tragedy of 06 May 1942 was avenged in February of 1945: “Over the next 10-days of heavy, often hand-to-hand fighting, 200 US soldiers were killed and another 684 wounded before the island was secured. The successful retaking of Corregidor Island was due in large part to the professionalism, bravery and skill of the Airmen and soldiers of the 317th TCG and 503rd PIR. The ‘I Gain By Hazard’ unit was awarded its third and final Presidential Unit Citation for its actions in the second Battle of Corregidor.”
To commemorate the 75th anniversary of the retaking of The Rock, the Spyron AV Manila documentary “Corregidor: The Road Back” was screened at the Charles Parson Ballroom of the US Embassy in Manila.