Manila War Monuments

THERE ARE certain parts of history that is better left forgotten.

The atrocities of war know no boundaries and race. The thousand men and women that fell victim to the ravages of war remain unaccounted and unknown. It is estimated that hundreds of thousands of people become fatalities of war. With this huge number of people, hundreds if not thousands, are buried without their identity being known. They are left nameless and buried in unknown graves.

Manila, the capital city of the Philippines, has been a site of major war crimes committed by the Japanese Imperial Army during World War 2. The “Manila Massacre” where the death toll was estimated to have reached 100,000 was a tragic consequence of the Battle of Manila. The allies continuously shelled and dropped bombs on the city to drive out the Japanese.

After the Allies’ air operation in Manila, the city was left in ruins. It is said that Manila was second only to Warsaw in Poland as the most ruined Allied city in World War 2. Making matters worse is that the Japanese vented their ire, anger and frustration on the civilians. Monstrous acts such as sexual exploitation, torture and decapitation, summary execution and other acts of abuse where committed by the Japanese troops on civilian women and children.

Manila was looted and burned to the ground. It was the worst condition the city ever experienced. The battle between the Japanese troops and the Allies to wrest control of Manila has resulted to thousand of civilians accounted as mere collateral damage. The estimated 100,000 civilians that were killed either deliberately by the Japanese or who were casualties from artillery and aerial bombardment of the United States Military Force show that the battle for the liberation of Manila is one of the fiercest urban fighting during World War 2.

In the one-month battle for the liberation of Manila from 3 February to March 1945, the Philippines lost inimitable historical and cultural treasure. Various infrastructures from government buildings, churches, colleges and universities were destroyed. The resulting devastation in the City of Manila is something we hope shall never happen again.

The walled city of “Intramuros” was primarily devastated. It is said that thousand of civilians were held hostage within this historical walls. While this site provided cover for the Japanese from the incessant American artillery and bombings, several structures were demolished beyond recognition and repair.

But aside from the destruction of infrastructure, the lost of lives brought about by war is the most hurtful aftermath. With the thousands of civilians and military men lost during the liberation of Manila in 1945, it is only fitting that memorials and monuments are erected and dedicated in their memory.

In Intramuros a ”Shrine of Freedom” or the “Memorare Manila Monument” has been dedicated to the innocent victims of war. While inside Fort Santiago, a cross marks the final resting place of hundreds of Filipinos and American victims of war atrocities.

The respective inscription written on the said monuments is truly heart breaking. Tears are very difficult not to shed as one reads every word and phrase etched on the cold stone of these monuments. As it describes how the victims of war suffered and died, one cannot help wondering why war has to happen?

We believe that any dissention among nations should always be resolved through peaceful means. War, in these modern times, is definitely not an option in solving misunderstandings among countries.

We pray that for all the lives that have been lost during the war. We hope that never again this would happen in our history.

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