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Tres Reyes Island view of the Marinduque Mainland

Friday, March 10, 2017

The Manila and Balleza Clan Massacre During World War II

The most famous and documented massacre of Filipino civilians by the Japanese Imperial army during World War II was the bombing of Manila. My mother-in-law youngest sister, Blanca Decena Nieva who was an army nurse died during that time. The summary of this massacre as documented in Wikipedia is as follows:

The Manila massacre involved atrocities committed against Filipino civilians in the city of Manila, Philippines by Japanese troops during the World War II Battle of Manila (1945). The Manila massacre was one of several major war crimes committed by the Imperial Japanese Army, as judged by the postwar military tribunal. The Japanese commanding general, Tomoyuki Yamashita, and his chief of staff Akira Mutō, were held responsible for the massacre and other war crimes in a trial in late 1945 in Manila. Yamashita was executed on 23 February 1946 and Muto on 23 December 1948.

In the Battle of Manila from February to March 1945, the United States Army and the Philippine Commonwealth Army advanced into the city of Manila to drive out the Japanese. During lulls in the battle for control of the city, Japanese troops took out their anger and frustration on the civilians in the city. Violent mutilations, rapes, and massacres occurred in schools, hospitals and convents, including San Juan de Dios Hospital, Santa Rosa College, Santo Domingo Church, Manila Cathedral, Paco Church, St. Paul's Convent, and St. Vincent de Paul Church. Dr Antonio Gisbert told of the murder of his father and brother at the Palacio del Gobernador, saying, "I am one of those few survivors, not more than 50 in all out of more than 3000 men herded into Fort Santiago and, two days later, massacred. The Bayview Hotel was used as a designated "rape center".

According to testimony at the Yamashita war crimes trial, 400 women and girls were rounded up from Manila's wealthy Ermita district, and submitted to a selection board that picked out the 25 considered most beautiful. These women and girls, many of them 12 to 14 years old, were then taken to the hotel, where Japanese enlisted men and officers took turns raping them. One Japanese order read, "The Americans who have penetrated into Manila have about 1000 troops, and there are several thousand Filipino soldiers under the Commonwealth Army and the organized guerrillas.

The combined death toll of civilians for the battle of Manila was approximately 100,000, most of which was attributed to massacres by Japanese forces. Some historians, citing a higher civilian casualty rate for the entire battle, suggest that 100,000 up to more than 500,000 died as a result of the Manila massacre on its own, exclusive of other causes.

However, similar events in Panay Island is not well documented including the Balleza Clan massacre in my hometown Barotac Viejo, Iloilo. Philippines, with the exception of the Hopevale Martyrdom of American soldiers in Tapaz, Calinog, Panay Island.(www.us-japandialogueonpows.org/Ibuki%20Kumai.htm)

However, through oral communications, I have received the following FB communication regarding the Balleza clan killings. These were events that I heard from relatives when I was growing up in my hometown of Barotac Viejo in the 1940's. The Balleza family that were killed were closed relatives of my mother, Paz Balleza Katague. I remember very well Noel Balleza, Sr and his wife Nay Edna who was a paraplegic( wheel chair bound)were survivors of the massacre. The following is from the FB page of Freya Tupas Tamon-member of the Balleza clan from Barotac Viejo, Iloilo.

Me and My youngest sister(Amor Katague Gregorio) in front of Barotac Viejo National High School, pointing at the sign showing the Land Donation of my mother (Paz Balleza Katague) and my uncle Jose Balleza-members of the Balleza Clan. This is the school where I graduated valedictorian in 1951.

Freya Tupas-Tamon: "During World War II, Japanese Troops were searching for the well-known BALLEZA CLAN ! But before they reached the House. GOOD that maybe it was LOLO GENARO who let HIS SONS: Tay Noel, Tay Adan,& Tay Alec to FLEE AWAY (Hide in Forest) to SAVED their LIVES... GOD hath MIRACLES !!! Then, Nay Edna, wife of Tay NOEL was placed in the river for she was sickly, and water was her only Medicine. I won't also FORGET the story of Nay COLING (SOCORRO Balleza TUPAS BOQUIREN): It was in Bgry. Gen. Luna that the Japanese ordered them to make two lines: Balleza Family & Workers!! Some workers joined the Group of Balleza w/out knowing that Group of Workers were NOT MASSACRED !!! All the Balleza clan were killed".

The following is my FB communication with one of the grandson of the Genaro Balleza, whose father was saved because he fled from the hideouts of the Balleza clan who were rounded up by the Japanese soldiers.

"All I know from the story was that my father was not there when they were rounded up. He fled to Balaring. My mom was not there too for she could not walk. "Lupog sya". The one who led the Japs was their former servant. All in all there were 17 members of the family killed including servants. Dads two sisters were killed also (Concordia, and the other sister) and one of the husband and their child. I hope this will explain a bit more of that painful tragedy."

Another undocumented massacre by the Japanese of Filipino civilians closed to my heart was the killing of my aunt( youngest sister of My Dad) family in Negros Occidental. I just heard this from another aunt ( first cousin of my Dad) just last year. I have no details of the event.

If you are reading this and have details on the Balleza clan killings please let me know. I really would like to know the exact date of the massacre and how many were killed and who survived to tell the story.

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