The Damage of the War
By: Ronald Sills
I remember touring the ruins of an old cathedral built during the Spanish occupation just outside of Manila. It wasn't on the tourist guide, and as you can tell, curiosity really compelled me to search areas I had no place being. As I approached these ruins I noticed people (locals) hanging about. You could tell by their dress they were the 'street people' of Manila. Cautiously I entered the sub teranean portion of the old cathedral. To my amazement I found it to be a catacomb where priests were buried long ago. The bodies had long since been removed and the street people were calling it home. They were sleeping in the nitches that once were the final resting place for the dead. The smell of urine and fecies were overwhelming and it didn't take me long to clear that area. Going to these areas in uniform, must have made me look like and idiot. I do remember the stares from the locals.
Also in the mid fifties, you could see many of the buildings in Manila with damage from the war and on the long road leading up to Baguio City, you could see Japanese tanks lying along side the road and batteries pock marked from shell fire. It was as though the war had only been a year or two in the past, when in fact it was nearly ten years since the war.
Manila harbor had so many sunken ships, that they lay on top of one another and there was a PT boat which appeared to be floating on the water, when in fact it was resting on other sunken ships. It was some years later that they were demolished and removed by the Japanese.
The Philippine government requested that the United States clean out their harbor. Our government in turn told the Philippine government to request the Japanese government to clear their harbor. The Philippine government then asked that we ask the Japanese government, as they were still very hostile toward the Japanese (with good cause)
So the United States did ask the Japanese government, on behalf of the Philippines to clear the harbor, and they did. When the Japanese salvage ships came to do the demolition, they had port and starboard liberty, as it was going to take some time to clean the harbor. The first group of Japanese who went ashore, only a very few came back. They were found knifed in allys and remote areas all around Manila. The Japanese then had to send relief ships to rotate their workers until the harbor was cleared, and they never went ashore again.
That same cruise, in Japan, you could see NO evidence of the war except for a building they left standing at Heroshima. The Japanese had totally cleaned up their cities and country side.