The Japanese Occupation

On July 7, 1937 the Sino-Japanese War broke out in China with the infamous Lu Kou Chiao (Marco Polo Bridge) incident. The Chinese in the Philippines sympathized with war efforts in China and the entire community was mobilized to send aid to China and boycott Japanese goods. Community organizations moved as one to support China’s resistance to Japanese occupation.

Because of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on December 8, 1941, war was brought to the Philippines, an American territory. On the first day of war, all the Japanese in the Philippines were sent to internment camps.

As the Japanese took over businesses, factories became idle and the economy was subjected to severe financial strain. Many Chinese migrated to rural areas where Filipinos helped protect and conceal them in their own homes. When found out, however, these Chinese barrio residents were massacred.

The most infamous of these massacres was carried out on February 24, 1945 in San Pablo, Laguna. Around 6,000 Filipino and Chinese males between 15 and 50 were gathered, and the Chinese, 650 in all, were picked out. All were bayoneted and thrown into trenches that they themselves had dug. Several wounded survivors were taken to a local hospital, only to be killed the following day. Some of the badly wounded crawled to their homes with the help of Filipinos. In Los Baños, all the Chinese found in town were executed because of increased guerrilla activities in Laguna and the liberation of American war prisoners from the Los Baños internment camp.

COWHM and Shepherd Society’s small pieces of propaganda materials with tiny Chinese characters were circulated among the guerrilla units and had to be immediately destroyed after reading (top left and opposite page). This bloodied bag belonged to an officer of the Hsuehkan (COWHM) militia guerrilla unit (top right). These two copies of authentic propaganda materials of the Philippine Chinese Youth Special Working Brigade were given to Bahay Tsinoy through the efforts of Prof. Chang Tsun-wu of the Institute of Modern History of the Academia Sinica in Taiwan (bottom).

COWHM and Shepherd Society’s small pieces of propaganda materials with tiny Chinese characters were circulated among the guerrilla units and had to be immediately destroyed after reading (top left). The bloodied bag belonged to an officer of the Hsuehkan (COWHM) militia guerrilla unit (top right). Two copies of propaganda materials of the Philippine Chinese Youth Special Working Brigade were given to Bahay Tsinoy through the efforts of Prof. Chang Tsun-wu of the Institute of Modern History of the Academia Sinica in Taiwan (bottom).

Most anti-Japanese elements went underground to carry on the resistance movement. Many either cooperated with Filipinos and Americans or operated independently against Japanese forces. Some of the guerrilla units also helped in the orderly and peaceful evacuation of the residents whenever news of Japanese army roundups was received.

Among the most prominent underground guerrilla groups were the Chinese Overseas Wartime Hsuehkan Militia (COWHM 華僑戰時血幹團), the Philippine Chinese Anti-Japanese Guerilla Force (Wha Chi 菲律濱華僑抗日支隊), the Philippine Chinese Youth Wartime Special Services Corps (菲律濱華僑青年戰時特別工作總隊), the Philippine Chinese Volunteers (CVP 菲律濱華僑義勇軍), the United States-Chinese Volunteers in the Philippines (USCVP 美國-菲律濱華僑義勇, the Philippine Chinese Anti-Japanese and Anti-Puppets League (Kang Fan 菲律濱華僑抗日鋤奸義勇隊), and the Pek-kek 399th Squadron. With the exception of the pro-communist Wha Chi and Kang Fan guerrillas, the four other units were of Kuomintang political persuasion.

Like their Filipino counterparts, Chinese guerrillas conducted liquidation missions, sabotage, gathered military intelligence, and helped prisoners escape. They published several propaganda materials on the war efforts, gave information on the actual war situation, and exploited news on Japanese atrocities to promote patriotism. They earned the respect and gratitude of the Filipinos when they showed their readiness to sacrifice their lives to be freed from Japanese rule.

Memorial to Young Kwangson at the Chinese Cemetery in Manila. When the Japanese occupied Manila on January 2, 1942, Young Kwangson, consul general of China to the Philippines, and all 11 of his staff were called to face the Japanese authorities and were detained at the University of the Philippines’ Padre Faura compound. They were ordered to collect and deposit 24 million pesos to the Japanese coffers. The amount is supposed to be twice the 12 million pesos the Philippine Chinese allegedly donated to war efforts in China. Young refused the order, and he and his staff were tortured then executed, in flagrant violation of the international law on diplomatic immunity.

Memorial to Young Kwangson at the Chinese Cemetery in Manila. When the Japanese occupied Manila on January 2, 1942, Young Kwangson, consul general of China to the Philippines, and all 11 of his staff were called to face the Japanese authorities and were detained at the University of the Philippines’ Padre Faura compound. They were ordered to collect and deposit 24 million pesos to the Japanese coffers. The amount is supposed to be twice the 12 million pesos the Philippine Chinese allegedly donated to war efforts in China. Young refused the order, and he and his staff were tortured then executed, in flagrant violation of the international law on diplomatic immunity.