In Philippine history, it is an established fact that Japan invaded the Philippines at the height of World War II in 1941, and as a result, thousands of Filipinos died from unspeakable atrocities committed by the invaders and the economy was left in shambles.
After the war, Japanese-Filipinos were forced to change their names for fear of being killed in acts of reprisal by Filipinos who survived the Japanese occupation of the country.
The government has since tried providing assistance to Philippine Nikkei-jin, or Japanese emigrants and descendants who have established families in the Philippines.
Zenaida Fusato Samano, 74, a second-generation Japanese-Filipino who will be celebrating her 75th birthday three weeks from now, got an early birthday gift as she got to see her long lost half-brother—after 74 years—at her home in Angono in Rizal province, east of Manila.
Zenaida’s father, Yamato Fusato, emigrated to the Philippines in 1930 and started his own business in Daet, Camarines Norte.
There, he met and worked with Antonia Terata, a Filipina.
He courted her and they got married.
They had only one daughter, Zenaida “Sumiko” Fusato Samano.
During the war, Yamato joined the Japanese army and worked as an interpreter.
He eventually separated from his wife and his daughter.
Zenaida was young when her mother got sick and died.
Her maternal aunt, Modesta, took her as her own.
Modesta funded her education until elementary school.
Since she had a lot of children, her niece was not priority.
Zenaida felt misplaced and had a difficult childhood because she had no parents to support her studies and guide her.
She kept on thinking what would life be if she had a mother or a father.
And what’s worse, she had no idea what her father looked like.
She transferred from Bicol to Manila and stayed with an uncle there to finish her secondary education.
When Zenaida transferred to Manila, little did she know that the birth certificate she possessed, which her Aunt Modesta hid, will become the bridge to discover her filial ties. She discovered the name of her father, his birthplace and her real Japanese name.
This personal discovery led her to contact different government offices and the Japanese Embassy here to locate relatives in Japan.
In 1988, she participated in a survey on second-generation descendants conduced by the Japanese Embassy in Manila and, in 1992, she appealed to the Department of Foreign Affairs for additional help in the search for his half-brother.
In 2010, the Philippine Nikkei-jin Legal Support Center, an organization that helps Japanese descendants trace their roots, filed her petition with the court.
Her petition to see her half-brother was granted.
Toshio Fusato, Zenaida’s half-bro¬ther, arrived in the Philippines on Friday.
In an interview, He told The Manila Times that when he learned that he had a sister, he was nervous and at the same happy at the possibility of meeting her.
Toshio, who hails from Okinawa, incidentally, read an article in a local newspaper the petition of Zenaida to find any of her relatives, which motion was granted by the family court in Japan.
“At that time, my father already passed away. I felt compelled to see her, instead of my father who already died,” he said.
“I know that I have a sibling in the Philippines, so I felt the need to visit here,” Toshio added.
On Saturday, the siblings finally met, in a tearful yet happy reunion arranged by the support center.
Toshio said he hopes that Zenaida can also visit him in Okinawa.