The Takayama Memorial at Plaza Dilao Marks Its 40th Jubilee on Nov. 17, 2017 – A Milestone in Philippine-Japanese Relations

At the Takayama Memorial: Kyoto Bishop Paul Yoshinao Otsuka; then Manila Mayor Alfredo S. Lim (1992-1998; 2007-2013); Takamatsu Bishop Francis Xavier Osamu Mizobe, SDB (1935-2016), chair of the CBCJ Commitee for the Promotion of Saints; Dr. Ernie A. de Pedro (Lord Takayama Jubilee Foundation); Fr. Renzo de Luca, SJ (now Father Provincial of the Society of Jesus in Japan), and a Japanese Sister
At the Takayama Memorial: Kyoto Bishop Paul Yoshinao Otsuka; then Manila Mayor Alfredo S. Lim (1992-1998; 2007-2013); Takamatsu Bishop Francis Xavier Osamu Mizobe, SDB (1935-2016), chair of the CBCJ Commitee for the Promotion of Saints; Dr. Ernie A. de Pedro (Lord Takayama Jubilee Foundation); Fr. Renzo de Luca, SJ (now Father Provincial of the Society of Jesus in Japan), and Sister Elizabeth Chiaki MAEDA, of the Congregation of the Charity of Jesus. (The Congregation has a Caritas Don Bosco School in Santa Rosa, Laguna) 

►The Takayama Memorial is the First Postwar Affirmation of Philippine-Japanese Friendship – only 21 years after the Philippine signing and ratification of the Peace Treaty and Reparations Agreement with Japan in 1956. Both the memorial proponents in the Philippines and Japan settled on the Christian Samurai, Justo Takayama Ukon, who died in Manila on Feb. 3, 1615, as the outstanding personification of bilateral friendship and amity.

The Historical Milestones

Nov. 17, 1977 (under President Ferdinand E. Marcos) – Dedication of the Takayama Memorial at the Philippine-Japan Friendship Park at Plaza Dilao, Paco, Manila. Mrs. Imelda R. Marcos (who spearheaded Manila beautification efforts as Governor of Metro-Manila, 1975–1986) was not present as she was concerned about the strident student rallies mounted at the U.S. Embassy – yes! U.S., not Japanese — every week. (She was, in fact, with President Marcos on a state visit to Kenya.)

Nov. 17, 1992 (under President Fidel V. Ramos) – Declaration of the Takayama Memorial as a National Monument by the National Historical Institute (now National Historical Commission of the Philippines).

Earlier in Philippine-Japanese History:

1592 – Establishment of Dilao in Barrio Balete “two musket shots away” from the Walled City as a separate settlement for Japanese residents (in what is now the Manila City Hall area, under direct fire of four cannons mounted at the Baluarte de San Francisco de Dilao) – as a precaution against threats of the Japanese overlord, Kampaku Toyotomi Hideyoshi (then busy with the Invasion of Korea, 1592-1598) to send troops to Manila – unless tribute was sent to him. (In 1941 — 349 years later – Imperial Japanese Expeditionary Forces finally invaded the Philippines, occupying the U.S. Commonwealth from 1942-1945.)

1762 – Relocation — (its fourth and last) — of Dilao to its present area in Paco – in order to create a large open field for cannon-fire, to fight off British forces preparing to occupy Manila (1762-1764). When Dilao was relocated, the area allotted for Japanese descendants was 11,309 square meters, officially described by the Manila City Engineer as “Lot 5, Block No. 903 of the Manila Cadastre,” owned by the City of Manila. (Certification issued by the City Engineer on Nov. 26, 1973 at the request of the Japanese Embassy.)

In 1908, the Manila Belt Line from Tutuban to Muntinglupa line sliced through the Dilao area. The present Paco Railroad Station was constructed in 1912-1915, effectively dividing Dilao into a settlement behind the station, and the front area which was later called ‘Plaza Dilao’ as it measured only some 660 sq. meters.

Massive Infrastructure Development

In 2017, the Metro Manila Skyway Stage 3 project (MMSS-3 Project) sliced through Plaza Dilao — leaving a tiny parcel as a park, but still hosting the Takayama Memorial. Though no longer a real plaza, it will still be called Plaza Dilao – because there’s a history of 105 years behind it.

Japanese Catholic Pilgrims in Manila

THE BIGGEST postwar Japanese pilgrimage to Manila was on Feb. 3, 2011 —  the 396th death anniversary of Takayama Ukon — when 200 Japanese Catholics, led by Takamatsu Bishop Francis Xavier Osamu Mizobe (chair of the CBCJ Commitee for the Promotion of Saints), laid wreaths at the Takayama Memorial. Then Manila Mayor Alfredo S. Lim presented Bishop Mizobe with a Key to the City.

Manila barangay band serenading Japanese pilgrims with Filipino music.
Manila barangay band serenading Japanese pilgrims with Filipino music.

180 Japanese Catholics in 1937: Compare this 2011 delegation to the 180 Japanese Catholic delegation to the XXXIIIrd International Eucharistic Congress in Manila (Feb. 3-7, 1937) – the first Japanese Catholic excursion outside Japan since religious freedom was restored after the Meiji Restoration in 1871. Led by Fr. Paul Yoshigoro Taguchi (later Archbishop of Osaka), the Japanese delegates – in candle-lit procession from De La Salle College to the Luneta — wore native costumes with a riot of colors as they represented not only Japan but also the colonial territories of the Empire of Japan in 1937 — Korea, Manchuria, the Marianas, and Taiwan.

Some 180 Japanese Catholics, headed by Fr. Paul Yoshigoro Taguchi (future Archbishop-Cardinal of Osaka) represented the Empire of Japan – in their first foreign pilgrimage since the Meiji recognition of religious freedom.
Some 180 Japanese Catholics, headed by Fr. Paul Yoshigoro Taguchi (later Archbishop-Cardinal of Osaka) represented the Empire of Japan – in their first foreign pilgrimage since the Meiji recognition of religious freedom in 1871. As the first day of the Eucharistic Congress (Feb. 3-7) was the 322nd death anniversary of Takayama Ukon, the focus was on the Martyr Church of Japan.

350 Japanese Catholics Arrive in 1614: On Dec. 21, 1614, Lord Takayama and 350 Japanese Christians arrived in Manila in an overloaded Chinese junk as exiles from Japan, as the Tokogawa Shogunate launched the first efforts to deport Christian missionaries and their staunch Japanese adherents – making pointed examples of Lord Justo Takayama Ukon and Lord John Tocuan Naito. Except for Takayama and his family, who were accommodated in the Jesuit guesthouse ‘Casa San Miguel’ in Intramuros, all the Japanese Christians were settled in the encomiendia of San Miguel (awarded to the Jesuits in 1611), which formed part of the Jesuit parish of Quiapo. (There were thus two Japanese settlements: ♦ Dilao for Japanese merchants, mercenaries, sailors, castaways, and survivors of shipwrecks. ♦ San Miguel was exclusively for the Japanese Christian exiles. Here the Jesuits built a church, a convent for the ‘Beatas de Miyako,’ and a separate convent for Japanese Jesuits.

Lord Takayama DID VISIT Dilao – but skipped San Miguel, which was already Christian – to preach the Gospel to Japanese non-Christian settlers who were under the pastoral care of Franciscan missionaries. Ukon was accompanied by some of his five grandsons, who stood as godfathers or padrinos at the baptism of Japanese converts.

Takayama Presents His Katanas to the Franciscans

Part of Ukon’s wardrobe as a samurai-general was a couple of katanas. Was he afraid of being killed by fellow Japanese – a Tokogawa mercenary or a wako — in Dilao?

Lord Takayama presented his katanas to the pacifist Franciscan missionaries as a sign that – here in Manila — he was now past all conflicts – and beyond the ardent enticements of Spanish Governor-General Juan de Silva to plan and lead a hare-brained Spanish plan to invade Japan “to protect Japanese Christians.” ◘

Dr. Ernie A. de Pedro
Managing Trustee
Lord Takayama Jubilee Foundation

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