Earliest Philippine-Japanese Friendship Memorial — Antedated Plaza Dilao by 19 Years!
►The Philippines-Japan Friendship Park was inaugurated at Plaza Dilao, in Paco, Manila on Nov. 17, 1977 – after being planned since 1973.
But unknown even to the Filipino and Japanese developers of the Plaza Dilao project, there was an earlier “Monument of Filipino-Japanese Friendship” dedicated in 1958 — 19 years before Plaza Dilao — in Chiba City, across the bay from Tokyo, honoring three revered personalities from three different time-frames of Philippine-Japanese history: ♦ Lord Takayama Ukon, ♦ Gen. Artemio Ricarte and ♦ President Elpidio Quirino.
►The first is, of course, Lord Justus Takayama Ukon (1552-1615), who exemplified the Japanese immigrants who came to the Philippines and were warmly received 400 years earlier.
►The second is Gen. Artemio Ricarte (1866-1945), the unreconstructed Filipino nationalist who refused to swear allegiance to the empire-building Americans when they subverted the Filipinos’ fight for independence against Spain at the turn of the 20th century.
►The third is President Elpidio Quirino (1890-1956), who is remembered for his magnanimity in granting full pardon in 1953 to the last 106 Japanese war criminals, after they had served several years of their prison sentences at the New Bilibid National Penitentiary in Muntinglupa, Rizal. Japanese leaders remember the Christian dimension of this presidential decision, “emanating from the sublime Christian spirit as well as motivated by friendly sentiment to restore more cordial relations between the two countries” — in the words of the then Foreign Minister Katsuo Okazaki (April 1952-December 1954).
Engraved on the marble block is a poem by Tatsuo Terashita, who served with the Japanese Propaganda Corps in the Philippines during World War II:
Our two nations under different skies,
Rising nobly above the mournful past,
Firmly pledge ourselves to friendship and love.
May this bond of hearts of millions endure
Like the sacred fire devoutly kept
Burning ceaselessly from age to age! ◘
Dr. Ernesto A. de Pedro
Lord Takayama Jubilee Foundation