FFE Magazine

Philippine hiStory Today: The War comes to the Philippines

updated300

I know that Christmas is in the air for a lot of us, but I want to share a story that has literally changed the landscape of the Philippines almost 70 years ago.

 

The consequences of these events aren’t so visible anymore thanks to years devoted to rehabilitation. Many younger people today are blessed to experience the events that transpired in these fateful years only in books and films. For a lot of us, the baby boom generation, we were the successors to the era of growth following the dark years. Our parents, however, belonged to the unfortunate generation who had to experience this event firsthand:

 

World War 2. The date in focus is 8 December 1941, when war reached Philippine shores.

 

History doesn’t choose dates to hold the most devastating events the world may witness. Find a comfortable spot and get ready for another whirlwind chapter of our history.

 

World War 2 in Europe

 

Before we examine what happened in our country, let’s take a look at what was happening at the other side of the globe in Europe.

 

Tensions were high in many European nations as territories were once again being fought for among the world’s superpowers. But the war itself started in September 1939 when Germany invaded Poland. Britain and France soon after declared war on Germany and tried to stop its war effort. But Poland eventually yielded to Germany and its ally Russia. At this point, because of the need for materials to fuel the war effort, Germany invaded many neutral nations like Belgium and Holland. Soon the German-Italian alliance or the Axis (later joined by Japan) overpowered France. Britain was left to its own devices.

 

Italian prime minister Benito Mussolini (left) and German führer Adolf Hitler (right) The leaders of the Axis powers

Italian prime minister Benito Mussolini (left) and German führer Adolf Hitler (right) The leaders of the Axis powers

 

All throughout this period, neutral state America was merely assisting the Allies (Britain and France) by selling them the arms they badly needed. At the other side of the Pacific, they were also helping China defend its territories from Japan, which had been trying to invade China beginning 1937.

 

The Germany-Italy-Japan tripartite forming the Axis Powers was formalised in 1940. Soon, they invaded Russia because they wanted to strip the country of its military power. To fight back the Axis, Britain and Russia formed an alliance although both were largely on the defensive.

 

The War in the Pacific

 

Japanese nationalist sentiments were blossoming during the 1930s. Part of their belief was that their emperor had been ordained to rule the world under a universal brotherhood. The first step to achieve this goal was to start a ‘new order in East Asia’ which was later called the Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere.

 

Japanese postage stamp showing a map of Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere

Japanese postage stamp showing a map of Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere

 

To simplify what the Japanese wanted to achieve through the Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere, here are just some of the slogans they used: ‘Asia for the Asians!’ ‘Down with Britain and America’ Japan was convinced that to implement the sphere of influence, they had to first deal with European outposts in Asia, and boy there were plenty of them!

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