THE first day of January is part of the Filipinos’ long annual celebration of the Christmas season. To Catholics, the season religiously began on the first of the four Sundays of Advent before December 25, which in 2016 also fell on Sunday.
This piece, however, is not about Christmas as a season of cheers. We have had many celebrations that some Catholics even forget the significance of December 25 as the birthday of Jesus.
Rather, this is about the mementoes of war among my collections of old things.
Unluckily for Filipinos who value history, the long festivities may have made them forget the heroism of Del Pilar on January 1, 1897 and the occupation of Manila by the Japanese on January 2, 1943.
Some or few of the children of Manila might have witnessed the occupation of Manila by Japanese soldiers. Those who are still alive today can tell the stories to their children, who in turn, can pass them on to the next generation. In short, the retelling of these stories that are handed down from one generation to the other can keep the history of foreign invasion alive.
‘Package of mementoes’
Soon, I will turn 70 years old. Having grown up in the province some 35 kilometers away from Manila, I am not one to relate any of the stories about Manila’s occupation by the Japanese.
However, I was lucky to own a “package of mementoes” dating back to 1943. It consists of what I presume as a soldier’s patch of a military uniform, three lady auxiliary caps, and a huge American flag measuring 112 inches by 58 inches, not necessarily in that order of importance. I don’t know if any of them had any significant connection with the Japanese invasion of Manila.
In my desire “to get rid” of the package, I emailed certain groups about them. Would they be interested to own them?
One of the groups I had contacted about the “package” through email was the American Chamber of Commerce in the Philippines. While I did not get a reply from the association, I am giving its officers the benefit of the doubt. Perhaps, either they did not receive my email or I might have emailed to the wrong address.
The patch, the three caps and the US flag are mementoes of the atrocities of war. My personal assessment is that they are old because they were used back in 1943, the year indicated in the patch.
For sure, the patch, the caps and the US flag are what collectors define as antiques. Perhaps, they were made even before 1943, the year when an American soldier sewed the patch on his uniform. The flag and the caps are certainly also old but their colors have not faded despite their age.
The American flag in my possession contains 48 stars, which America used for 47 years, that is, from 1912 to 1959, the second longest use of a flag in America. The present US flag has 50 stars in it, which Americans have been saluting the longest since 1960 and until today. That’s more than 57 years.
How about the caps among the war souvenirs that are now among my collections? Again, by their looks, they are even older than I am. To collectors, the age of things matters most. To the soldiers, the US flag, the caps and the soldiers’ insignia that adorned their uniform are sad reminders of the battle they had fought.
Three ladies’ caps
Like the old American flag, I also did not wash the three caps in the package of the reminders of WW2. I can only describe them by quoting the inscriptions on each of them.
Two caps are faded orange. Written on the sides of the red triangular patches are “Loyalty, Protection, Service.” At the middle is an inscription identifying the organization, “Fleet Reserve Association,” which also adorns both sides of one cap.
Also written on one side of one of the three caps was the identification of the unit as “Branch 82 Manila.” This was repeated on both sides of one of the other orange caps, but instead of “Branch” the word used was “Unit.” Also inscribed on one side was “Ladies Auxiliary Fleet Reserve Association,” which was shortened into an acronym L.A.F.R.A on one side.
The third cap is dirty white with “Philippines” and Manila” written on each of the two sides. The patch also carries the same mottoes such as “Loyalty, Protection, Service,” with each of these three words on each side of the triangle. At the center is “USN,” which obviously stands for United States Navy.”
For the information of the readers of The Manila Times, I will turn over the “Purple Heart Medal” and “package” to Mr. Dante Ang and his son Klink, who own this paper, and to my editors led by Nerilyn Tenorio, our editor-in-chief, for safekeeping.