After Filipinas was raped and desecrated in 1945, her life has never been the same again.
National Artist Nick Joaquin shared the same sentiment when as early as five years after the war was over, he wrote: “[Manila is] in the same condition in which it had been left after the Japs and the GIs were through with it.”
The multitude of jeepneys, the barong-barong, the squatter, and Garcia’s “Filipino first” policy that led to the proliferation of factories–these were just some of the post-war phenomena that made Manila worse than before. And looking at the status quo, it seems that Filipinos have never really recovered from that massacre which occurred between February and March 1945.
We’ve all heard the facts and figures before: Manila, second only to Warsaw as the most devastated city in WWII, was literally burned to the ground. Facing imminent defeat, the desperate Japanese used Filipino civilians as human shields and stationed themselves at different residential and government buildings. The massacre that ensued led to the destruction of our architectural treasures and the deaths of countless Filipinos.
A more serious battle, however, happened as soon as the Japanese and Americans left the Philippines. Or did they?
Unlike the first few Filipino presidents who helped rebuild the nation after the war, President Ferdinand Marcos was more forgiving to the Japanese. Some historians have underscored how Marcos’ efforts to strengthen Japan-Philippines relations starting in the 1960s led to the influx of loans to the country.
The money, in turn, was reportedly used by the strongman to give life to an already comatose Philippine economy, as well as to “fatten his and his cronies’ wallets.” Today, the repercussions of that foreign debt are still evident as Filipinos continue to seek a better life abroad due to a debt-ridden government that can’t prioritize its people’s needs.