Japanese Occupation of the Philippines - Manila Rampage

Japanese Occupation of the Philippines - Manila Rampage Famous Historical Events Social Studies World History World War II Tragedies and Triumphs

This image depicts victims of atrocities committed against Filipinos and Spaniards living in Manila by the Japanese military. 

The photo is included in the “Report on the Destruction of Manila and Japanese Atrocities:  February 1945.”  Note this official document is very difficult to read and its pictures are extremely disturbing.

The report describes this photo:

Remains of several priests in tombs at (Aduana & General Luna Streets, Walled City, Manila, P.I.)

What happened to these Spanish priests who were serving the Catholic Church in Manila?  Who were they?  Why did the Japanese military target them?

The Report on the Destruction of Manila contains many stories from eye witnesses and survivors.  The following is taken from the account of Father Belarmino de Celis:

On February 8th all the men were taken to Fort Santiago.  The Spaniards were separated from the Filipinos.  We have not heard again from the Filipinos, though we afterwards learned that they were burned alive.  The Filipinos were over a 1,000 in number. 

Under the pretext of making an investigation they took away all the belongings of the Spaniards.  This investigation was never made - and as we filed into the prison they stole everything we had - our papers, our watches - everything.

We were imprisoned there for three days, almost without eating because the food that came to us from San Agustin - and it was quite a good deal - went to our jailers.  We were in a very small room.  We could not all lie down at the same time, so that not everyone was able to sleep and some had to remain standing.  The floor was earth, and as we were not allowed to leave the room for any reason whatsoever we were forced to make use of the floor as a toilet. 

We were there three days - February 8, 9, and 10.  On the 10th in the afternoon we were returned to San Agustin.  There were several Filipino fathers [priests] but they had had to go with the other Filipinos when we were separated and we have not heard from them again.
...We were told that the building was not safe enough and that we were to be taken to one that was even safer.  We were made to form ranks and were marched to General Luna Street.  When we least expected it the Japanese formed a circle around us and more soldiers came out from Fort Santiago to help them.  We were forced to enter the shelters in front of the Cathedral, on the corner of General Lunan and Aduana.
...I remained near the door.  In about half an hour the Japanese began to throw hand grenades in through the air-holes.  We were all very badly wounded.  We ran to the door in order to go out and a group of soldiers received us with a volley, and what is worse they laughed while they were doing it.  Quite a number of us remained dead at the door. 

Then the Japanese covered the entrance with large stones, gasoline barrels full of earth, and earth.  They covered the entrance as best they could so that we were being suffocated.  We were, in reality, buried alive.

After this, at night, decided not to die there by suffocation and to get out in any manner, I went up to the door and scratched and dug in the earth until I was able to open a hole to breathe through.  In the morning of the 20th a Japanese appeared, he saw the hole I had made.  He fired several shots through the hole and then covered it up again.  After awhile I opened it again, and no more Japanese came by that way.

I was lying on top of the corpses of my companions.  Each bomb that fell near by caused the earth from the roof of the shelter to cave in a little, so that we were all covered partially with dirt and stones.  The groans of the dying could still be heard, the dead bodies were already decomposing - there were already worms in them - and a swarm of flies covered everything...
...I did not find food, but I found water in the tank of a toilet - the tank was completely full.  As I drank I could feel my strength coming back.  I don't know how much I drank but it was a great deal...
I do not believe that anyone else was able to save himself from the shelter in which I spent 70 hours, because a few days later I returned to the spot and found everything just [as] I had left it and there were no signs of anyone else having been able to escape.  (Father Belarmino de Celis, Augustinian, pages 11-13 of the Report on the Destruction of Manila and Japanese Atrocities.)

Father Belarmino was able to save one companion.

Media Credits

Image, described above, by photographer Pvt Hal Winston.  U.S. Signal Corps image SWPA - SigC - 45 - 13166; March 2, 1945.  Online, courtesy U.S. National Archives.



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"Japanese Occupation of the Philippines - Manila Rampage" AwesomeStories.com. Oct 07, 2013. Dec 13, 2019.
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