VIGAN CITY, Ilocos Sur - A city councilor here is keen on finding the owner of a war-era photo album that contains pictures of a Japanese soldier and members of his family.
Nearly 12 years ago, Vigan City Councilor Rey Florentino, an architect and a heritage advocate, found the photo album in an old abandoned house said to have been used as a hideout by Japanese soldiers during World War II.
"...Marahil ay naiwan ng isa sa kanila ang album na ito matapos ang giyera,” Florentino said.
(Maybe one of them left the photo album after the war.)
Since then, Florentino has been searching for ways to return the photo album to its owner.
“Gusto ko talagang ibalik ito dahil alam ko na mahalaga ito na paalala sa kung sino man ang may-ari. Tulad natin, ang photo album natin noong bata pa tayo mahalaga 'yun di ba? This is the same thing with the Japanese since we know them as very sentimental,” Florentino said.
(I really want to return this because this is a reminder of who the owner is. Just like us, our photo albums from when we were young are important right?)
The 36-page photo album contains photos of Japanese soldiers in groups. There are also portrait shots of Japanese soldiers identified according to the description written in the album as “Mr. Shuji Kikuchi” and "Mr. Seiichiro Inoue.”
Photos of 2 girls believed to be daughters of the owner are also in the album with corresponding labels such as “Ms Teruko,” “Akita Army Hospital,” and “Younger sister.”
The phrase translated as “Gift from Matsunaga Troop Leader Group” is found on the first page of the album.
“This simple album is also part of the heritage [of] whoever owns it. Makakatulong ito para mapunan kumbaga kung may kulang ba o hindi nila alam tungkol sa buhay nila o kanilang mga ninuno,” Florentino said.
(The album can help the owner's descendants know more about him.)