The month Manila died

Wed, 03/24/2010 - 00:00
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Quezon Bridge
Pasig River seen from the wreckage of Quezon Bridge
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Shattered buildings and bridges along the Pasig River
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Padre Faura
Burned, blasted, pockmarked: UP Padre Faura
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Victims
Crouched in the ruins of their city: liberated, alive; victims, survivors
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Nick Joaquin writes: "Our first rapture over the Liberation faded quickly enough, and we found ourselves, not in a sweeter and nobler world, as we had dreamed during the dark days of the war, but in an evil and decaying world..."

When General Dwight Eisenhower visited the Philippines shortly after the war, he remarked that of all the cities he had seen Manila was second only to Warsaw in devastation.This has been famously and massively misquoted to mean Manila was the second most pulverized city during World War II. It wasn't. Eisenhower probably forgot or hadn't seen Stalingrad, Kharkov, Hamburg, Cologne or Nuremberg. The Philippine capital, and its helpless inhabitants, was among many cities hammered by fate, paying in blood and fire for somebody's triumph.

Over the years, the city slowly picked itself up, but would never be the same. Old buildings, churches, archives, treasures, records were destroyed in the carnage. The rebuilders razed the ruins of the old city, erasing history. Work on restoring Intramuros, which was almost totally destroyed, wasn't started until decades after the war.The city buried its past and memories along with its corpses.

In place of the old city, a new one grew: crowded, haphazard, unplanned, ramshackle, swarming with jeeps -- a legacy of the liberating Americans. Intended as makeshift transport, the vehicles have ended up ruling the city's streets.

It wasn't until 1995 that the city finally remembered to erect, on the tiny Plaza de Santa Isabel in Intramuros, a memorial for the victims of 1945.

There's still one monument missing: a short, stumpy and ugly statue of Admiral Iwabuchi Sanjii that can be displayed for Filipinos to spit on.

Comments

Submitted by Aurora Pascua (not verified) on
Thank you for the memory of the WW II , I was not born yet but I am proud to read some of those real sad stories and real picture that my mom tells me when I was able to understand And finally believe . I even remember my mom telling me that war never give good thing to people's life all is destruction to families life , countries and honor.

Submitted by Aurora Pascua (not verified) on
Thank you for the memory of the WW II , I was not born yet but I am proud to read some of those real sad stories and real picture that my mom tells me when I was able to understand And finally believe . I even remember my mom telling me that war never give good thing to people's life all is destruction to families life , countries and honor.

Submitted by Jerry Plank (not verified) on
Thank you for this article. When viewing the old video from 1938 the city of Manila looks so much like the town if Vigan in Ilocos Sur. In particular, the houses in Manila with the second story 2 foot overhang. That is exactly what they have in Vigan. I loved Vigan by the way. So nice.

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