Authored by Benito J. Legarda Jr.
The Japanese Occupation of the Philippines during World War II looms large in our country’s living memory. And yet due to a lack of awareness and education, as well as a concerted effort by certain sectors to minimize and deny Japanese war crimes, many today seem to be in danger of forgetting what our people endured during those three years.
Esteemed historian Benito Legarda Jr.’s writings on this period of our history, consisting largely of columns from the Philippines Free Press and the Philippine Daily Inquirer, were previously published in book form as Occupation ‘42 and Occupation: The Later Years. This new edition gathers these acclaimed collections into a single volume, along with additional never-before compiled articles, to create a definitive omnibus.
Occupation 1942–1945 is not presented as a comprehensive history of the Occupation. Rather, it adopts an informal journalistic approach, acting as as a narrative of events and their effects on the lives of individual Filipinos. These include the author’s own experiences and those of his family and friends, as well as meticulous research from diverse published memoirs and eyewitness accounts. Articles are arranged roughly in the chronological order of events, following the changes in civilian life brought on by the outbreak of war and enemy invasion, the sullen uneasiness of occupation life, through the gradually rising hopes from distant battlefronts where Allied forces began to reverse the tide of Axis conquest, to the high price in lives, heritage, and property that the Philippines paid in 1945 to regain its freedom.
With this book, we immortalize the mundane, day-to-day struggles, the quiet moments of defiance, as well as the nigh-unthinkable atrocities and horrors and the dizzying elation of war’s end. In remembering these darkest of times, we also remember the light that shone through—the resilience, bravery, compassion, and nationalist spirit that carried Filipinos and their allies through the war.
The publication of this book provides the Philippines—and the world—with an important Filipino perspective of the Japanese Occupation at a time when the world commemorates the seventieth anniversary of the end of World War II… It fills a void long waiting to be filled. It personalizes what Filipinos experienced on the ground, and does not present unfounded, sweeping generalizations.
—From the Foreword of Ricardo Trota Jose, University of the Philippines
[Benito Legarda Jr.’s] great store of personal memories and stories are the spice he throws in with historiography—there is never a dull moment in any of his writing. ... What he saw as he rode his trusty bike around town, delivering messages, running errands, or just curiously poking around. … This is the quintessential Legarda persnickety with facts interspersed with color, the mind’s eye watching a movie as one reads through his telling. He is to be praised and thanked profusely for making history come alive.
—Joan Orendain, Writer
BENITO J. LEGARDA JR. was born in Manila and made his career at the Central Bank of the Philippines, rising to the rank of deputy governor for economic research. He was consultant to the ECAFE in Bangkok and later served on the board of the International Monetary Fund in Washington, DC, where he also served as consultant to the World Bank and economic counselor to the Philippine Embassy. Since retiring from government service he has written After the Galleons (1999, winner, Gintong Aklat Award); The Hills of Sampaloc (2001, finalist, National Book Award for history); Occupation ‘42 (2003, winner, National Book Award for history); Occupation: The Later Years (2007); and the booklet Eight Rizalian Miniatures (2012). His writings also include over sixty articles and papers about economics, finance, history, numismatics, cartography, and Philippine colonial art, along with a regular column in the Philippines Free Press. He has delivered and written scholarly papers in Spanish in Mexico, Barcelona, and San Sebastian. He was a trustee of the National Museum (1999–2001) and a board member of the National Historical Institute (2003–2010). He has served in various civic clubs and learned societies, and has been president of the Philippine Economic Society and a founding member of the Philippine Statistical Association