Sunday, November 02, 2008


Bounded by Quezon Boulevard on the west and the Malacañang Palace Compound on the east, San Geronimo was renamed Arlegui Street in honor of the Filipino property owners of this San Miguel area; whereas, San Rafael Street was named after Raphael, the Archangel, who was also known as the Medicine of God, for he was appointed to cure the sickness of the body and the spirit. It was on Arlegui where the first known Colegio Filipino, later renamed National University, opened in 1902.

On the early morning of February 4, 1945, boisterous shouting coming from near Malacañang roused the residents off their beds. The crowd that had already gathered at the intersection of Arlegui and San Rafael
was jubilant; buoyed by the sight of an American flag that proudly waved from the flagpole inside the Palace grounds. And the guards at the gate were no longer Japanese but American GIs; smiling and waving back at the Manileños, teary-eyed with joy. However, the Yankee sentries also gestured at the crowd not to come near the Palace gates just yet.

Unbeknownst to many of the residents, the night before, guided by the guerrillas led by Edwin Ramsey, the 1st Cavalry unit arrived at the Palace gates only to find a handful of Japanese soldiers
and the members of the Presidential Guard Battalion. Without any resistance, the latter, comprised of Filipinos, gladly surrendered; their lives were spared. The three or four Japanese soldiers, on the other hand, were peremptorily executed on the spot.

The next day, as the jubilant San Miguel residents milled around on Arlegui Street, some of Ramsey's guerrillas came out of the Palace gate with a pushcart filled with the corpses of the last Japanese in Malacañang. The bodies were dumped on a nearby vacant lot, drenched in gasoline and set on fire. Throughout that day, the neighborhood that surrounds the Arlegui and San Rafael intersection stank of burnt bodies.

And this fateful day,
February 4, 1945, also marked the beginning of the month-long battle of what was to become the worst and most devastating urban fighting in the entire Pacific theater -- the Battle for Manila.

This post was inspired by the award winning documentary film,
The Battle for Manila.

Muchas gracias, El Cineasta, for a copy of the DVD!

Civilian survivors of the Battle for Manila

Wisconsin Philippines Image Collection
Local Identifier: SEAiT.Philippines.ph00929.bib


Related Link:

The 63rd Commemoration of the Battle for Manila

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posted by Señor Enrique at 8:52 AM


Anonymous conventional Wisdom said...

Amazing. You have no idea how informative and entertaining your blog is. I take it back. I am sure you have an idea. Lol.

Keep it up and Thank You.

November 02, 2008 9:22 AM  

Anonymous El Cineasta said...

Es un placer Señor. :)


El Cineasta

Manila really suffered a lot.

November 02, 2008 2:54 PM  

Blogger nutart said...

thanks for another peek at history, Eric! I usually have mixed feelings when it comes to war...for me there really are no heroes nor villains---all players/pawns in a chess game of the global power elites.

Once (a long time ago) I was able to ride a taxi along Roxas Blvd. It was quite a special trip, not that I got a taxi cab just before a typhoon was about to hit Manila. Not that it was a very old one and still able to run in the streets of Manila but that its driver was just as old, methinks. The taxi driver drove quite slowly, so slow that I can even walk alongside his cab and make it to my destination. But the long ride was quite erased by the kuwento of the senior citizen. He told me about the war in Manila. Yep, he was about 19 years daw when the japanese occupied Manila. He told me they were not Japanese, that the foot soldiers were Koreans! The officers were Japanese themselves and were quite official and formal. The Koreans were the ones so aggressive and diretso and thus quite assets to the japanese Imperial Army. He told me a lot more and a valuable insight on the propaganda machine of the Americans. Too much for this comment. So, that's all I can contribute to this post :-).

November 02, 2008 4:28 PM  

Blogger mimi said...

ito po yung malapit sa manila city hall?

November 03, 2008 2:55 AM  

OpenID bwzone said...

The bw photo tells the story of the hardship of war and destruction.

It is surprising how mankind recovers from the catastrophe of war. Some 25 years later, the city almost seemed scar-less of the tremendous destruction it endured during the 4 year war !

November 03, 2008 3:16 AM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

Lol ... thank you, too, conventional Wisdom!

November 03, 2008 6:19 AM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

Yes, El Cineasta ... unfortunately, much more so than necessary. I just hope that we learn from such madness and never relive it.

November 03, 2008 6:20 AM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

I was told the same thing by my parents, Bernadette: the Korean foot soldiers who served under the Japanese forces were incredibly cruel and sadistic. They were the ones who practiced throwing infants up in the air and catching them with their rifles' bayonets.

And prior to the American full engagement in the Vietnam conflict, the Vietcongs were extremely wary of the Korean scouts due to the latter's brutality.

I would have enjoyed meeting this taxi driver :)

November 03, 2008 6:24 AM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

Medyo malayo itong San Miguel sa city hall, Mimi, kasi tatawid ka pa ng tulay papunta doon. Nasa San Migiel area ang Malacañang Palace.

November 03, 2008 6:25 AM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

Yes, we may have recovered in terms of physical landscape of the city; however, the psyche of the survivors may still endure some leftover pains and terror.

War is truly an ugly thing, BW. Hope we never have to experience it here ever again.

November 03, 2008 6:29 AM  

Blogger JayAshKal said...

I am lookign for old reels of the Battle of Manila and the Death March. I found one on Time Warner series on the Battle of the Pacific which included the Battle of Lingayen Gulf.

Maybe El Cineasta's DVd can also downloaded onthe net. Will look for it.

LOL Bernadette aka nutart: that taxi drivers are like barbers... very entertaining and knowledgeable.

Thanks Eric for another informative post.

November 03, 2008 10:30 AM  

Blogger nutart said...

yah, Jayashkal!!
Sometimes, I know I pay taxi drivers for the kuwentos as well :-D!
I got to know a lot about sabong, jai alai, lotto, the ins and outs of Ermita!

November 03, 2008 7:02 PM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

Hi Mario!

I have one of those Time-Life videocassette set of MacArthur's Pacific campaign, but who has a VHS player these days ... hehehe.

Thank you, glad you enjoyed this post.

November 04, 2008 8:58 AM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

I learned many city short cuts from cab drivers, Bernadette ... hehehe!

November 04, 2008 8:58 AM  

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Life in Manila as observed by a former New Yorker who with a laptop and camera has reinvented himself as a storyteller. Winner of the PHILIPPINE BLOG AWARDS: Best Photo Blog in 2007 and three Best Single Post awards in 2008.


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