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Survivors recount destruction, suffering and deaths

Reporter: Barnaby Lo 丨 CCTV.com

08-15-2014 12:58 BJT

In World War II, the Philippines and Japan were on opposing sides, and Manila was the scene of one of the bloodiest battles during that time — the Battle of Manila, which lasted from February to March of 1945.

"The flames were from the entrance of the Pasig River all the way to Quiapo. Just one stretch of flames," survivor Edgar Krohn said.

"Manila was the only city in the Pacific War that was destroyed," survivor Benito Legarda said.

A small, little-known garden in the middle of old Manila is a tribute to the more than 100,000 who suffered and died in the Battle of Manila. Only two other World War II battles resulted in more casualties.

Former Philippine Ambassador to Spain Johnny Rocha lost 14 members of his family in the battle, including his mother. He was only seven.

"The shelling was incredible, incredible, one after the other. We hid under the stairway, cement stairway of a burned house, and my mother was killed. In the German Club, I lost 13 relatives who were massacred, massacred by the Japanese, burned alive, shot, one young aunt was gang-raped on the driveway of the German Club and then was gutted by a bayonet and left to die in the sun," Rocha said.

For all the horrors Filipinos suffered at the time, Japan has not issued an official apology. But ties between the two countries have improved vastly over the years, a growing alliance highlighted by President Benigno Aquino’s recent trip to Japan, as both countries tackle China in their respective maritime disputes.

"I find it ironic that after what they did to us we should now be on the same side," Legarda said.

"I have forgiven the Japanese people because they were also abused and had a difficult time living in their own land. But never, ever will I forgive the Japanese military, especially the Marines. They’re the ones who committed all that," Krohn said.

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