My eyes glittered upon hearing our guide telling us on board the Tranvia 1 that our next stop was the Japanese Memorial Garden of Peace. My mind then flew to the Japanese-made caves we had passed a while ago. I was hoping that I would be enlightened on the details of the fast-moving boats hiding on those caves while while on a lull of their suicide missions. Upon arrival, I proceeded directly to the small pavilion to satisfy my desire for information on the Japanese side of the same war story. My eyes were glued at the pictures hung on the wall… and with the use of my Nikon D7000 DSLR Camera, I took close up shots on the first picture I want to see in the Japanese Memorial . . . the suicide boat “Shinyou-Tai”- with the front compartment colored green marked as “BOMB COMPARTMENT.”
I then figured out how these one-man driven, 30-knot speed “ocean shaker” motorboats had wrought havoc to US Naval Forces particularly the crippling of a warship as well as the sinking of a submarine chaser and Large Landing Craft Supports (LCS) in various parts of the Philippine archipelago.
The caption of the wall picture reads. . . Philippine Shin You -Tai fallen soldiers 1,144 out of 1,700. Total Shin You Tai 114 Forces, fallen soldiers were 2,557. So, Philippine Shinyou-Tai had 45% died of total overall Shin You-Tai.”
Glancing at this Japanese suicide note, I cannot help but be fascinated by the Japanese “Bushido”- a warrior code of dying for the emperor rather than surrendering alive to the enemy.
Many believe that this comely 10-ft Goddess of Mercy statue referred to as Jibo-Kannon Buddha by the Japanese is a “Goddess of Fertility,” wherein each and every woman visitor who long to have a baby needs to touch it. Located opposite the Shinto Shrine, this statue adds more value to the breathtaking seascape on the background. The “Peace And Love” inscription on the wishing bowl fronting the stone statue is simply nostalgic.
On my way towards the waiting tranvia, I passed by this this marker erected near the relics of Japanese anti-aircraft artilleries that had caught my attention…
It reads : “TRIBUTE TO THE BRAVE. In Remembrance of the 4,500 Fallen Comrades In Arms Of The Japanese Defense Batallaion . . . And Tribute To The Gallantry Of The Filipinos, Americans And Japanese Soldiers Who Fought And Died For A Cause On This Island. MAY THEIR SOUL REST IN ETERNAL PEACE.”
As our tranvia was moving away from the place towards our next battlefield tours destination, my mind was figuring out on the real characters of the Japanese who were tagged as “the most belligerent” among the foes of the Allied Forces in the Pacific War. Their war time brutality might have been displayed in other parts of the Pacific War zones but their humane nature surfaced in Bucas Grande Island, Surigao del Norte, Philippines. My father had told me that the Japanese warships converged within the Sohoton Cove vicinity in the western part of the island more than a month before proceeding to their final rendezvous with the American Navy Forces- the Battle of Leyte and Surigao Strait considered as the greatest naval battle in history. But remarkably, during their stint in Bucas Grande, the Japanese never hurt anybody, had befriended the locals and carried the children on their laps and shoulders. Others contended, though jokingly, that they behaved that way because the island was destined to be the final resting place of the last remaining tranches of the “Yamashita Treasures” on board their warships which allegedly were hurriedly unloaded and buried in the locality with the help of the local men, one of whom, an uncle of mine who once admitted to me the veracity of the story and acknowledged that he knew the exact location of the “gold burial ground” but brought the information on its exact whereabouts to his grave.