Skip to main content

Bombs at the National Science Complex, Notes on the military history of UP DIliman

The Dean of the College of Science, Prof. Dr Caesar Saloma sent us a memo about WWII era bombs at the construction sites of the physics and chemistry institutes at the National Science Complex (NSC). He advises all concerned to keep out of these sites until the Philippine National Police has given the all clear.

When we were doing the urban ecological survey of Diliman, we, the students and I did survey work on these sites! Thank God nothing untoward happened to us!

Nonetheless, I was appointed as faculty point person on the construction of the Institute of Environmental Science and Meteorology (IESM) building (a thankless job!). I need to talk to colleagues about their ideas on how the building ought to be or look like, engineers and architects and of course the bureaucrats who hold the money. So far the consensus is that it should be environment friendly.

Since the proposed site of the IESM building is just 150 meters from the physics building, it is likely that the site may have bombs of its own. So I attended a briefing with architects and engineers on site.

The architects and engineers asked me about the reason why the bombs were there. But we need to first understand the military history of Diliman. Local lore says that some buildings on campus were Japanese garrisons. The present site of the CSWCD is one of them. The fact that the campus once hosted quonset huts is evidence of the military importance of the site. The Colleges of Law and Education were made into Japanese garrisons. The official US Army history describes operations around the area when the Balara Filters were being secured.

The highest point on campus is where the PAGASA observatory is now. The physics and chemistry building sites are adjacent. So it is possible that the area was once a Japanese military observation post . The Americans would have bombed this area and knowing the accuracy of the bombs, some may have landed on what is now the NSC.

The site overlooks the Balara Filters and may have really been a good observation post.

What the military histories tell us is that what we know as the Katipunan area was once military encampments. Where St Bridget School is now was a Philippine Army camp. Escopa was also the camp of enlister personnel.

The official US Army history on the Battle of Manila and suburbs is online here . At the beginning of the operation to liberate Manila, the status of force deployments are indicated on this map. The American operations to secure the water supply infrastructure of Manila involved the heavy use of artillery to knock out Japanese positions from San Juan, New Manila and on to Diliman and Balara. When the Americans secured Balara Filters on 5 February 1945, they found the facility wired for demolition. The San Juan operations met resistance in New Manila where much of he area was mined and the mansions were turned into fortified positions. American artillery knocked out Japanese resistance. Collateral damage was heavy with homes being destroyed. We can assume that civilian casuaties were heavy but the official army histories make little mention of it. Five hundred of the 800 Japanese marines under the command of Colonel Noguchi were killed.

The military histories make no mention about operations in the Diliman campus but the campus was on the approach to Balara. The 7th Cavalry was bivouaced in the Quezon City and probably used the campus as an ammo depot.

The military history of the Diliman campus needs to be researched. Too bad that a UP brat like me only got information of what the campus was in World War II from stories and urban legends that every building and toilet in UP Diliman hosts a ghost! If you google ghost and UP Diliman, you will get all sorts of ghost story links.

In a sense the war hasn't ended in UP. The engineers also reported that human skeletons were unearthed at the science building site. Were these soldiers? Can they be identified? The archaeological context of these finds have to be studied by the university experts.

Happy Independence Day to all!

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

President Manuel Luis Quezon's Code of Ethics

Being a denizen of Kyusi, in honour of the man who gave my city its name and for being the most colourful prez the Philippines ever had, I have the pleasure to post Manuel L Quezon's Code of Ethics on his birthday. Let us profit from the wisdom of the Kastila.

1. Have Faith in the Divine Providence that guides the destinies of men and nations.

2. Love your country for it is the home of your people, the seat of your affection and the source of your happiness and well-being. It's defense is your primary duty. Be ready to sacrifice and die for it if necessary.

3. Respect the Constitution which is the expression of your sovereign will. The government is your government. It has been established for your safety and welfare. Obey the laws and see that they are observed by all and that public officials comply with their duties.

4. Pay your taxes willingly and promptly. Citizenship implies not only rights but obligations.

5. Safeguard the purity of suffrage and abide by the decisions of the…

Simoun's lamp has been lit, finally.. not by one but by the many!

"So often have we been haunted by the spectre of subversion which, with some fostering, has come to be a positive and real being, whose very name steals our serenity and makes us commit the greatest blunders... If before the reality, instead of changing the fear of one is increased, and the confusion of the other is exacerbated, then they must be left in the hands of time..."
Dr Jose Rizal "To the Filipino People and their Government"
Jose Rizal dominates the Luneta, which is sacred to the Philippine nation as a place of martyrdom. And many perhaps all of those executed in the Luneta, with the exception of the three Filipino secular priests martyred in 1872, have read Rizal's El Filibusterismo. Dr Rizal's second novel is a darker and more sinister one that its prequel but has much significance across the century and more after it was published for it preaches the need for revolution with caveats,  which are when the time is right and who will instigate it.

Flame trees in bloom

The hottest summer courtesy of El Nino in at least 10 years gave runners and walkers in the University of the Philippines Diliman campus a visual treat. This year the flame trees Delonix regia are in full bloom!
In past summers it wasn't as hot and dry so the trees did not shed their leaves and few blooms were produced.
It is the tropical version of the Japanese Hanami or the Cherry blossom viewing season. While Hanami tells us the fragile impermanence of beauty, the flame tree hanami tells us that summer burns but soon it will all be over.