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by JOSE MA. BONIFACIO M. ESCODA
Giraffe Books, 2000
360 pages

Boni Escoda researched the one-month period of February 3 to March 3, 1945 and put together various pieces of what happened during this gruesome time. The book is full of detailed accounts and photographs from this painful liberation. Through diligent research and interviews of 76 war survivors, the author provides thorough documentation that illustrates the devastation of infrastructure, history, culture and human life in Manila.

EXCERPT:

Ermita Prize-winning playwright Wilfrido Ma. Guerrero reminisced about the holocaust in Ermita on 10 February:

"We decided to stay indoors as long as we could, but a group of Japanese soldiers who were shooting their guns in the air, stopped in front of the Bueno residence where we were staying.

"They ordered all of us to follow them, stripping us of all valuables. My mother(Mrs. Elisa Ocampo Guerrero) had in her belongings eight gold coins intended for the chalice of my brother (Fr. Lorenzo Guerrero, S.J.), who left for the U.S. in June 1941 to study theology in Kansas. The Japanese soldiers grabbed my mother's bayong at bayonet point. My mother wanted to grab it back, but I screamed: 'Don't, mother!'

"The Japanese then ordered people to go to the University Club two blocks away. On the way, a Chinese man who was seriously wounded was shot in the head and his body left on the street. The people were placed in one room. The Japanese then nailed some pieces of wood on the door and left. After two days the people inside were ordered to go to Manila Hotel and were used as hostages. They were fed cookies. Later they escaped through a hole created by a shell blast and headed towards the Elks Army Club.

"Ermita Church was filled with civilian refugees from houses torched by the Japanese. Soldiers headed towrad the church and started shooting the people fleeing from it." (p. 205)



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