BUKIDNON – In a family's garage in the town of Manolo Fortich, Bukidnon lies a World War II artifact—an elliptical stone measuring one-foot wide and two-feet high, with Japanese letters etched into it.
At first glance, it seems like an ordinary stone, but it is really a marker that used to indicate a grave site of Japanese soldiers killed in World War II.
The owner of the property where the stone was located, 68-year-old Serio Magallones, said they had to transfer the stone from its original location because they built a house on where it used to be.
According to Magallones, relatives of the deceased Japanese soldiers used to go to the site every August to offer food, candles, and prayers, but their visits stopped about 10 years ago.
On the stone are inscriptions in Japanese. When translated, writings on one side say “On this spot died Miyazaki Yoshitoi,” "Chief of Army," and "Emperor Chiao". On the other side of the stone, the writings say "In memory of Kaji Battalion, May 8, 1942," Magallones said.
It is believed that Miyazaki Yoshitoi was a high-ranking official of the Japanese army who led the Kaji Battalion, whose members eventually died in Manolo Fortich, Bukidnon.
According to Datu Conrado Binayao, the town’s representative for indigenous peoples, Manolo Fortich housed a Japanese camp during World War II.
The marker will remain with the Magallones family, but the tourism office said it is planning to put the stone in a museum to preserve it.