Thursday, February 7, 2008

from Celso F. Aurelio

You're the nugget in propagating a sense of History among our kababayans. I hold all these facts near and dear and continue in my small way of trying to correct 'distortions' made by others who know less but talk more. This letter also voices some insights in your previous article re: Manila-1945.

The February incidents you mentioned less than 50 years apart are incongrouosly part and parcel of American history as well. There are footages of the Philippine-American War available and the Manila of 1945 atrocities can be viewed in a DVD produced by Peter Parsons, Baguio resident & son of Chick Parsons- MacArthurs supply and point man for contact with Philippine guerillas. This DVD is highly recommended by the 'Battling Bastards of Bataan' (BBB) organization of which I'm a humble member.

In April 2002, along with 2 busloads of American Bataan-Corregidor WWII veterans and their families and friends, (I was the only Filipino national in the group), the BBB returned to our shores to mark the 60th anniversary of the Bataan Death March. Talking with some of the vets, their respect for Gen. 'Skinny' Wainright is far greater than their respect for Gen. MacArthur. Their reasoning? Wainright stuck with them in the battlefields of Bataan. Some were also blaming MacArthur for being instrumental in the utter destruction of Manila in 1945. They also questioned the Kamikaze Museum in Mabalacat, initial jumping point for these 'crazed' pilots in hurtling themselves to death into American ships. Local politicians claim that this will promote tourism (Japanese, I reckon) in their area. We also closed-ranks with the Phil. Defenders of Bataan and Corregidor veterans in ceremonies at Camp Crame in QC. Talking with them was like reliving my late father's and other kins Bataan war experiences. As we visited most of the WWII landmarks (e.g. Cabanatuan, Capas, Bilibid Prison, Intramuros, Mariveles, Corregidor, Bataan proper, the American Memorial Cemetery-with US Sen. Inouye-Hawaii and Stevens-Alaska, both decorated WWII vets in attendance, UST- where the tour members incarcerated there during the War caught a glimpse of their old quarters), the vets also questioned the presence of Japanese markers in Corregidor. One wonders- are there any German markers in Normandy? Or can we also put up a marker at Japan's Yakasuni shrine- honoring Japan's militarism? The presence of the Japanese ambassador during the Araw Ng Kagitingan ceremonies at Mt. Samat in Bataan was the last straw, yet the practice continues to this day.

When we had a mini-March leading to the Capas shrine terminus, a lot of the barrio folks came out and waved and smiled at us. We returned the favor, hobnobbing with the locals like long-lost friends. I overheard an American daughter telling his WWII vet father- 'Dad, these folks are probably the descendants of those who gave you food and water when you passed through here'. You mentioned Senator Gordon holding a Japanese festival of sorts. In our welcome program at the Manila Hotel, some of the guests included Mr. Manchester (famous WWII European theater writer who died before he could finish a book on the Bataan Death March); Mrs. Beth Day Romulo; the daughter of Gen. Lim; Ms. Lesley- Ann Meyer and Edna Binkowski of the Fil-American Endowment- instrumental in replacing the Bataan Death March markers; and other dignitaries. Oh yes, Mr. Richard Gordon was also there. (Chicago, Il.USA)

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

My name is Greta Janz and I was one of the members of the trip that Celco mentions. My father, now deceased, was a POW and so I joined the trip in his honor.

Since then I have been working to write my parents history. Gemma, I believe that we are distantly related and was hoping that you might be open to helping me fill in the gaps to my mothers history. I am the daughter of Paulina Corazon Ramirez. She was the daughter of Manuel Ramirez Cabrera of Ermita and Remedios Lopez Maspuli of Tondo, Manila. Manuel's father was Don Jose Manuel Ramirez. I believe that we are related via Clementia Ramirez who married Lorenzo Guerrero.

If you are open to connecting we me please e-mail me at