A tower to remember and to forgive

October 27, 2017

 

In January 7, 1942, the combined Filipino and American forces mounted their last stand against the superior Japanese Imperial Army, culminating in the merciless bombing of the Japanese on Mt. Samat from St. Joseph Cathedral in Balanga.  By April 9, Maj. Gen. Edward King surrendered to Col. Mootoo Nakayama. As preparation for his assault on the island battleship that is Corregidor, Lt. Gen. Masaharu Homma ordered the moving of over 100,000 prisoners of war from Bataan to Tarlac, but the transfer was marred with abuses and vengeful acts that is nothing but a study on how deep human behavior can reach abysmal depths. Prisoners were massed from two points, one in Mariveles and one in Bagac and rendezvoused at Pilar on their march to the north. Casualties ran to estimates of about 700 per day. 

 

On April 8, 1975, or roughly 33 years after Bataan had fallen, the Japanese Buddhist organization Risshō Kōsei Kai and the Bataan provincial government inaugurated the Bagac Friendship Bell Tower, or the Japan-Philippine Friendship Tower, at about 200 m from ground zero, or where the horrendous march from Bagac began. The three-faced marker is inscribed in Filipino, Japanese, and English languages, with the latter presented on the third photo:

 

 

 

 

 

And yet to this day, we still settle our differences in the most inhumane ways possible, in a never-ending cycle of transgressions and forgiveness. And in some cases, more barbarity.

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