Manila Transitio: Remembering The Manila We Lost

Of all the commemorations being celebrated every February, perhaps the most overlooked is one that commemorates the Battle of Manila of 1945. Which is quite unfortunate considering how this sad and bloody chapter in the history of Manila transformed the city and the country on a macro perspective, causing destruction to so many cultural treasures in the city and death to more than 100,000 souls.

On one hand, the horror of this event may have been a factor as to why many choose to, understandably, forget what happened. On the other hand, this preference to forget is seen as the cause as to why Manila today has lost its soul in the midst of the progress and urban chaos that has adversely affected what was once known as the “Pearl of the Orient.”

It is the concern for this particular “forgetfulness” that tour guide/performance artist/cultural activist Carlos Celdran decided to hold an annual event to celebrate Manila before the war and remember the souls and treasures lost in the war called the Manila Transitio 1945, the recent being held last Saturday night at the Fort Santiago grounds. Continue reading


Manila 1945: Remembering A City’s Bloody Feburary

Originally posted on February 3, 2015, this post has been rewritten to add some new stuff and make the piece more “timeless” and less constrained from being a 70th anniversary post as it was originally written.

February has been a traditionally known worldwide as the “love month,” as well as being as being historic month for the Philippines, especially in recent years due to the events of 1986 which culminated in what we now know as the first People Power Revolution. But not many people of another historic event that happened years back in 1945, one of the darkest and most devastating chapters in the history of Manila and of the country as a whole: the Battle of Manila in 1945 in which American and Japanese forces fought for about a month in a bloody, devastating battle in a bid to liberate Manila from Japanese control.

(courtesy of Wikimedia Commons)

This was the singular event that would change Manila forever as the city once known as the “Pearl of the Orient” became one of the most devastated cities during World War II.  Hundreds of thousands of lives were lost  and many of the city’s important infrastructure and landmarks were heavily damaged, if not totally destroyed, many of which would not be rebuilt ever again.

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Manila1945: “Was the Destruction Necessary?”

One of the talks that were held in the midst of the 70th anniversary of the Battle of Manila in 1945 was a lecture held last February 12 at the Ortigas Foundation Library which asked the question that lingers on after 70 years: “Was the Destruction Necessary?”

Dr. James Zobel, (not related to the landed Zobel family in the Philippines) who serves as executive director of the MacArthur Library in Norfolk, Virginia, helmed this lecture that attempted to answer that question.

The Urban Roamer missed this lecture, but thankfully the Ortigas Foundation Library has uploaded the full lecture online.

The talk itself is informative enough to check out as one can at least get some insight on the circumstances behind the tragedy from the point of view of Gen. Douglas MacArthur, the man who masterminded the US campaign to liberate the Philippines from Japanese forces. If anything, the lecture sheds light on how deep MacArthur’s ties to the Philippines is, which was beyond his now famous quote “I shall return” when he had to leave the country in the face of the advancing Japanese forces in 1942.

So do check out the video and hopefully, this will help in better understanding why Manila went through so much devastation 70 years ago.


Remembering Manila1945 at the Ayala Museum

Truth be told, it has been a crazy period lately for the Urban Roamer. With so much going on, it is unfortunate that I could not get to attend some events that were being held, or could not get to hang out long enough to check out some events up close.

It is especially unfortunate especially that so many events and exhibits have been going on around the metropolis on the occasion of the 70th anniversary of the Battle of Manila. But as the commemoration of #Manila1945 draws to a close, I could not miss out at least one exhibit about it, which in this case would be the exhibit at the Ayala Museum entitled “Manila: My City at War”

scale model of the Memorare – Manila 1945 monument in Intramuros

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Memorare Manila 1945

As we continue to remember #Manila1945, the Urban Roamer recently paid a visit to one of the few spots in the city that have served today to remember everything that was lost in the Battle of Manila in 1945: the Memorare Manila 1945 at the Plazuela de Santa Isabel in Intramuros, Manila.

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