MANILA - On the 74th anniversary of the bloody Battle of Manila, American author James Scott launched Tuesday his book, “Rampage (MacArthur, Yamashita and the Battle of Manila),” an account of the month-long battle between American and Filipino forces and the Imperial Japanese Army.
Presenting a summary of his latest book during its launch at the Ayala Museum in Makati, Scott said the book tells the story of the homecoming of Gen. Douglas MacArthur and what ensued after in the second most devastated Allied capital of World War II.
“MacArthur famously vowed to return [to Manila, the Philippines] and ‘Rampage’ is a story of his homecoming... the battle to retake Manila in Feb. 1945 was a fight unlike any other in the Pacific war. The end result was the catastrophic destruction of the city and the rampage by Japanese troops that terrorized the civilian population,” he said.
MacArthur, whose father, Arthur MacArthur, served as an early military governor in the Philippines, and whose mother died here, left Manila with his wife and 4-year-old son on March 11, 1942. They were living then at the Manila Hotel.
He would come back on Jan. 9, 1945 via Lingayen Gulf, keeping his promise to return to liberate the Philippines from the Japanese. MacArthur’s forces would encircle Manila, forcing Japanese soldiers into the destructive urban battle.
Scott said the book is a product of research, which includes pouring through voluminous records from the US archives, war crimes documentation, and interviews with survivors and their kin with the assistance of Memorare Manila 1945. Some of Scott’s research were spent at the Filipinas Heritage Library and the Ayala Museum.
Papers and books from Roderick Hall, who also lost family members to the war, also formed part of Scott’s vital research.
The US captured the Philippines, along with Cuba, during the Spanish-American war. The Americans granted Cuba independence but kept hold of the Philippines because of its strategic position, explained Scott.
Some 100,000 civilians died in the Battle of Manila as US and Japanese troops fought to gain control of the Philippine capital. Women were held and raped by Japanese soldiers and families detained.
At least 500 people, according to Scott, died of starvation during the war.
The commercial and residential districts, as well as the architectural and cultural heritage of the city, were destroyed.
The topmost Japanese generals in the Philippines at the time were Gen. Tomoyuki Yamashita, who later surrendered and was tried for war crimes and subsequently hanged to death, and Rear Adm. Sanji Iwabuchi who holed up inside Intramuros and booby-trapped a major part of the city.
A monument of a mother cradling her child amid lifeless bodies on top of a grave stands inside Intramuros to this day, the only one in memory of the bloody battle.
Ayala Corporation chairman emeritus Jaime Zobel and wife, Beatriz, were among the guests during the book launch. His son and Ayala Corporation chairman and CEO Jaime Augusto Zobel and National Book Store’s Maureen Alexandra Padilla gave congratulatory messages.