BRIEF HISTORY OF THE BAGUIO MEMORIAL TOWER
This Memorial Tower was built jointly by the PHIL-JAPAN War Memorial Association of Japan and the Lions Club of Baguio City on February 11, !973. It has been manage and maintained by the PHIL-JAPAN War Memorial Association of Japan for 23 years until March 1996 when the management and maintenance was entrusted to the Filipino-Japanese Foundation of Northern Luzon, Inc.
There are many Japanese Memorial Towers in the Philippines but this tower is the best maintained ever since it was built by a non-government organization of Japan, the PHIL-JAPAN War Memorial Association of Japan.
As a token of respect and remembrance to the memory of all the soldiers who fought and died in WWII and out of love for country and to forget the past between the Philippines and Japan, for bilateral friendship as well as eternal world peace, a joint memorial service is performed every year infront of this memorial tower.
When war broke out between Japan, the United States of America and Great Britain in December 8, 1941, the Philippines was directly affected when the Japanese Imperial Armed Forces landed at Lingayen Gulf May 7, 1942 saw the fall of Bataan and Corregidor and Japan completed the Occupation if the Philippines. This occupation was however, short-lived when in October 18, 1944, American Armed Forces re-occupied Sulawan Island, then succesively, Leyte, Luzon, Mindanao and the Visayas after fierce, heroic engagements by opposing forces. The culmination was the Unconditional Surrender of Japan in August 15, 1945. The Philippines was the base operations of both Forces and as a result, suffered very heavy loss of both lives and properties. More than five hundred thousand Japanese and Filipinos either died or permanently handicapped, war widows and war orphans still bearing the brunt of the war.
After the Unconditional Surrender of Japan, Japanese war veterans, war widows, war orphans and others started a campaign to build a War Memorial Shrine in honor of those who sacrifice their lives but this campaign ran aground. In August, 1971, the Baguio Lions Club conceived the idea of building in Baguio City, a public park symbolizing Filipino-Japanese Friendship and World Peace. On October 15 of the same year, Baguio City Mayor Luis Lardizabal approved the use of a city-owned lot of approximately 1,500 Tsubo (4,860 Sq. Meters) located near Camp 6 on the Benguet Road as the site of the park. For twenty days from February 28, 1972, Baguio City Vice-Mayor Pedro Claraval and Baguio Lions Club Director Ricardo Calingan toured Japan to solicit active support to the implementation of the project by Lions Club members of Hokkaido, Tokyo, Nagoya, Osaka and Kyushu.
The earnest zeal, devotion and self-sacrifice shown by the Philippines' side as represented by these two men caught the attention of Japanese war veterans, widows and interested parties in Tokyo and Osaka who assembled December 22, 1971 and formed the War Memorial Service Association. This Association appealed to the members of the Japan Lions Clubs for active and full cooperation to the construction of the Memorial. In January 1972, a fund-raising campaign was started to build the Lions Head but this project was discontinued for various reasons. The site was changed to one near the entrance to Baguio City but the area was limited. The present site was finally secured May 1972.
It must be noted that at about this time, the War Memorial Service Association completely stopped seeking the support from Japan Lions Club. The Philippines-Japanese Friendship Garden was built by the Baguio Lions Club and the Japan War Memorial Service Association. The Japan Lions Clubs have no connection whatsoever with the Project.
In August 1972, Vice-Chairman Kameji Yoshida of the Association started working on the Mikage marble plaque which came from Mt. Tsukuba, Ibaraki Prefecture. The plaque arrived in Manila at 7:00 A.M. November 27, 1972 with the cooperation of C. Itoh & Co., Ltd., Manila Office. Due to the state of emergency and enforcement of martial law, receipt of the plaque was delayed. Clearance for delivery of the plaque was actively pursued by Secretary Troadio Quiazon, Jr. of the Philippines Department of Trade and Tourism, Baguio City Mayor Luis Lardizabal, Baguio Lions Club President Moises Cating, Asahi Newspapers Manila Bureau Chief Kiyoshi Saito. Baguio Lions Club Directors Ricardo Calingan, Eduardo Cunanan, Bernardo Santiago and Mr. Carlos Teraoka. Manila Customs released the whole lot of 77 pieces weighing a total of 27 tons and received in Baguio at 2:00 A.M. January 18, 1973.
Assembly was completed by the use of heavy cranes loaned by the United States Army. The joint efforts of three nations, the Philippines, the United States and Japan during the phase of the project fully reflects post-war relations of cooperation and friendship among the three nations something undreamed of during those trying, turbulent years.
On the other hand, construction of the Park was started in earnest November 2, 1973. Baguio City Engineer Judy Alabanza drew the plans. Baguio Lions Club Director Ricardo Calingan became Resident Supervisor and Vice-Chaiman Hitoshi Oku of the Association stayed and fully cooperated. More than one hundred people worked in two shifts and during the final week, work was done in three shifts. Work was finally finished at 5:00 A.M. February 11, 1973 when the plaque was set in place. The park was inaugurated the same day at 11:00 A.M. attended on the Philippine side by the Honorable Troadio Quiazon, Jr. Philippine Trade Secretary of Trade and Tourism the Honorable Luis Lardizabal, Mayor of the City of Baguio, Baguio Lions Club President Moises Cating and about three hundred residents of Baguio while on the Japanese side Consul Wataru Miyagawa of the Japanese Embassy in Manila, Officers of the War Memorial Service Association and about one hundred eighty Japanese war veterans, widows and orphans who came from all parts of Japan to attend the inauguration.
Boys Scouts of Baguio City played the national anthems of the Philippines and Japan to formally start the inaugural ceremony Addresses were given by the Honorable Luis Lardizabal, Japanese Consul Wataru Miyagawa, the Honorable Tadashi Sudo, Mayor of Ha-nyu City, Saitama Prefecture and by Chairman Nobuo Kamiyama of the Association. Flowers were offered by Mrs. Toshie Eda of the Japan School of Tea Ceremony. Shakuhachi (Japanese Flute) was played by Mr. Masahiro Yahiro and religious ceremony was conducted by Chief Buddist Priest Esho Segawa of Honchoji Temple, Nichiren Sect of the Buddhist religion. The formal ceremony was concluded at 12:30 P.M. under clear, cerulean skies in solemnity.
At 1:00 P.M. luncheon party given at the Chinese High School was attended by a total of about four hundred guests who were all anxious to promote friendship, harmony and mutual undertsanding.
We deeply appreciate the full understanding and feel very grateful for the cooperation of both Filipinos and Japanese who made the construction of this Memorial possible. This new landmark will forever stand as a Symbol to all mankind that the shackles of Hatred, Bias and Prejudice can be shattered, the Peace, Friendship and Mutual Understanding can be attained. We are firmly convinced that the best legacy to all our heirs will be for us all to strive hard to make this, the only word we will ever know, a better place to live in.
RICARDO CALINGAN BERNARDO SANTIAGO DAVID BORJA EDUARDO CUNANAN JOHNNY GONZALES CARLOS TERAOKA PASTORO QUINTO JUDY ALABANZA