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Manila: My City at War


“Now but a valley of shudders was Manila, where the famine had become visible as bloated bodies collapsed on the sidewalks.”

Thus Nick Joaquin describes the city during the Japanese occupation in World War II, from 1942 to 1945. It was a time of hunger, pillage, rape, massacre, and bombing. Children were bayoneted in front of their mothers; bodies hit by flying shrapnel lined the distance from hiding places to artesian wells. Books, paintings, and buildings burned to ashes. It was also a time when American internees created zines and comics; Tagalog was used without being described as “malalim”; and music alternated with air raid sirens and radio propaganda.

Filipinas Heritage Library (FHL) seeks to recall this period in history with Manila, My City at War!, a commemorative event for the 70th year of the Battle for Manila on February 3 to March 3, 2015 at the Ayala Museum. The event will consist of a mini conference and exhibit that aim to show the various losses brought about by war. It hopes to open a space for awareness as well as reflection: The Battle for Manila was the war of the present generation’s grandparents. What would this generation go to war for, and what would we be willing to risk losing?

For a complete schedule of activities and information, click this link.

IMAGE DETAILS. Detail of a photo taken shortly before the arrival of the American forces from the north. A man pushes a cart in front of the University of Santo Tomas Press (behind the concrete posts and iron railings) towards Quezon Boulevard. The black smoke in the background comes from a fire raging in Santa Cruz. Courtesy of Filipinas Heritage Library (Retrato Collection)

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