MANILA (UPDATE) - The recent fire at the Manila Central Post Office is not the first time disaster struck the historical structure in the Philippine capital.
According to the National Historical Commission of the Philippines (NHCP), the building was first severely damaged during the Battle of Manila in 1945 as it was used as a Japanese garrison at the time.
The post office was hit by artillery fire from the Americans as they bombarded it on Feb. 19-21, 1945, and the assault set its interior ablaze.
It was a key area for the Japanese as it was an "earthquake-proof and heavily reinforced concrete" which was "practically impervious to direct artillery, tank, and tank destroyer fire," according to the NHCP.
This forced the American troops to enter the building to engage the Japanese in room-to-room combat.
On Feb. 22, 1945, the Americans were able to enter the post office through a second story window.
And although the Japanese heavily barricaded the rooms with sandbags and barbed wires, the Western troops managed to eliminate the Japanese forces who retreated to the basement of the post office.
The Battle for the Post Office further enabled the Americans to defeat the Japanese forces as it gave them a strategic location used to advance their plans in retaking Intramuros.
The Battle of Manila, part of the war in the Pacific, lasted from Feb. 3 to March 3, 1945, as U.S. and Philippine forces sought to regain control of Manila from the Japanese.
The fierce, month-long battle ended with Manila being finally liberated after three years of Japanese occupation, but not without reducing it to ruins and at the cost of over 100,000 civilian lives.
In the latter part of 1945, Japan would be defeated by the U.S.-led Allied Forces.
Reconstruction of the damaged post office building started in 1946, the NHCP had said. The edifice was first constructed in 1926 following the design of Juan Arellano.
The NHCP credited the following for its latest piece on the post office titled, "The Battle for the Central Post Office (19-22 February 1945)": John Tewell Collection, Alex Lim (colorization), Triumph in the Philippines (1993) by Robert Ross Smith, Lou Gapal Collection, Private Glenn W. Eve Collection, and the U.S. Naval Archives.
The massive fire at the Manila Central Post Office started evening of May 21, and a fire out was only declared some 30 hours after.
Around P300 million in damages were recorded and 11 individuals suffered minor injuries, according to authorities.
The NHCP has said it will work with local and national agencies to ensure the rehabilitation of the building.
- with report from Kyodo News