"The Japanese, not as conquerors, but friends"
This story, from the Japanese occupation, is an unbelievable one, but it must be told.
We know only too well that when the Japanese Imperial Forces occupied Manila, after a combined force of Filipino and American soldiers retreated to Bataan to make a last stand, Manila was fully occupied by Japanese soldiers.
During the last two years of the occupation, my family and I had to leave Manila because my two elder brothers, Desi and Willie, had joined the guerilla movement of the USAFIL-NL. This was after a Japanese amnesty was granted to all soldiers who fought in Bataan or were in the underground movement.
Desi was imprisoned at Fort Santiago for eight months because he was with the underground movement while Willie was in Bataan. He participated in the Death March from Bataan to Capas, Tarlac.
When my family and I were in Abra we had to go from town to town for fear that somebody would inform the Japanese that we were a family of guerillas. I was then 16 or 17, and all I could remember were the atrocities committed by both the Japanese and the guerilleros. In fact, I witnessed how cruel the guerilleros were to perceived collaborators.
When I recall all these experiences to my wife, she only smiles. As a young girl, she had fond memories of the occupation.
My wife recounted stories of how the Japanese soldiers that occupied Cotabato at that time well so well-liked by the residents because they were helpful and kind. My father-in-law was a doctor, and so was Captain Koizumi, the head of the company that was in Cotabato proper. The occupying forces in Cotabato proper were under Col. Takumi.
My wife recounted how the Japanese soldiers took care of her. Their house was just beside a big white house that the Japanese used as headquarters. I can understand that because I know how the Japanese love children, having a weeklong festival for children.
In fact, my wife’s experience with the Japanese, who were all her friends, had to do with having the opportunity to learn Niponggo. Until now she can still speak the language.
According to her, the Japanese made a lasting impression on the residents of Cotabato so much so that when my father-in-law visited Japan in the sixties, he was welcomed by Dr. Koizumi and Col. Takumi and their former soldiers. That meeting was in fact published in the biggest Japanese newspaper—I saw photos of it.
That friendship was carried over to my wife so much so that when we visited Japan in the 1970s, we were met by her friends in Tokyo and got invited to spend a weekend at a resort city.
My wife’s Japanese friends were so enthusiastic in taking us around. We took the bullet train from Tokyo to Kyoto, and from Kyoto, the special train to Fukui.
I cannot forget that night. I awoke to find my shoes missing. When I asked around, I was told that all shoes had to be taken off before entering a Japanese home.
When my wife and I left Fukui, we were showered with gifts.
The relationship continues up to this day, with our children getting together with the Koizumi grandchildren when we go to Japan.
In the 1970s, my father-in-law invited Col. Takumi and Dr. Koizumi and their former soldiers, My wife and my father-in-law, who was then staying with us, hosted the group in our old house in Philam Homes along Edsa.
When the group went to Cotabato City, the whole town welcomed them and made them “adopted sons of Cotabato.”
On one occasion, when we were invited by a Japanese ambassador to lunch at the ambassador’s residence at Forbes Park, my wife recounted our family’s friendship with the Japanese. A reporter visited my wife at Ecology Village to interview her for the paper.
What was unbelievable was that there were kind and good members of the Japanese Imperial Forces who came to the Philippines not as conquerors, but as friends.
To make this unbelievable story more interesting, Japanese men Takeda san, who was a company doctor and a master sergeant, and Iishi san, fell in love with daughters of well-known families. They courted them like ordinary suitors would. One of the girls was an adopted daughter of the provincial governor. During that time, he was a colonel of the Mindanao guerilla movement.
When the wife of Iishi san died in japan, he wanted to come back to the Philippines to marry the love of his life. Alas, she was already sick of cancer. She said she was old. (She never married.)
The letter, which Iishi san sent to my wife to be delivered to his love, was never delivered—much to my wife’s regret.
The other love affair involved a pretty daughter of a well-known Cotabato family, who later on married a Filipino and settled in the United States.
Philippine National Police chief Oscar Albayalde, who has been linked to the illegal activities of so-called ninja cops when he was still head of the Pampanga police force, has no choice but to opt for early retirement. He is scheduled to retire Nov. 9 when he turns 56.
With his alleged involvement in the drug recycling controversy, Albayalde is damaged goods, his credibility gone. In other words, he has become an ineffective chief of police.
Given his early retirement, the investigation by the Department of the Interior and Local Government must continue.
Meanwhile, the Palace must stop saying that President Duterte still has confidence in Albayalde.
I had a good laugh when the President backtracked on his statement from Russia that two generals were also involved in illegal drugs. Santa Banana, this is our top cop speaking!