The University of Santo Tomas hosted the commemoration of the 77th year of the Liberation of Manila and Santo Tomas Internment Camp (STIC) on February 3, 2022 at the Plaza Mayor and at the Benavides Garden.
In honor of the both soldiers and civilians who made sacrifices for the Liberation, UST Rector Very Rev. fr. Richard G. Ang, O.P., PhD; Vice-Commander of the Armed Forces of the Philippines – Philippine Navy, Maj. Gen. Nestor C. Herico; National Historical Commission of the Philippines Chairman Dr. Rene R. Escalante; Acting Deputy Chief of Mission of the U.S. Embassy in the Philippines, H.E. David Gamble, Jr.; Ambassador of the Embassy of Japan, H.E. Koshikawa Kazuhiko; Ambassador of the Embassy of United Kingdom and Northern Ireland, Her Majesty’s Ambassador Laure Nicole Stephanie Beaufils; Ambassador of the Embassy of Canada, H.E. James Peter McArthur; Ambassador of the Embassy of Australia, H.E. Steven James Robinson; and City of Manila top officials Mayor Francisco Moreno Domagoso and Vice-Mayor Ma. Sheila Lacuna-Pangan offered the commemorative wreaths to pay their respects at the facade of the UST Main Building. It was followed by a 21-gun salute.
In his message, fr. Ang underscored the importance of remembering. For the University Rector, this was a celebration not only of history but also of identity, community, and friendship, as well as enabling peace and harmony. “Remembering, my dear friends, is part of healing. We can only make sense of the past by our ability to retell the story and acknowledge the pain and sufferings inflicted,” he said.
“We cannot bring back the lives sacrificed during this period of history, but through this memorial today, we continue to honor their exceptional courage and valor,” he added.
Meanwhile, Vice-Mayor Lacuna-Pangan honored in her speech the country’s frontliners, the present-day heroes who have been working to their limits since the Covid-19 pandemic started. “Here in Manila, we have not wavered in the face of modern struggle. We have not wavered in the modern face of the struggle. We continue to strive to be resilient in the fight against the pandemic,” Lacuna-Pangan said.
Manila City Mayor Moreno delivered an inspirational message during the event, emphasizing on the lessons learned from the heroism of the past and how this has remained true to the present, albeit without the violence of war. “Just as the brave soldiers whom we relied upon the armed battle, we have our courageous frontliners who never turned their back on us when we needed them the most,” Mayor Moreno said.
Moreover, Mayor Moreno sent his gratitude to the ambassadors in attendance, dubbing them as the country’s modern day allies who never failed to send help when needed, even before the global pandemic.
The University, once named the Santo Tomas Internment Camp, became the Japanese Imperial Forces’ internment camp in the Philippines, the largest in the country, since the war had dawned in 1942. The 21.5 hectare campus witnessed around 4,000 internees, 3,000 of which were Americans, which were liberated by the American Forces on February 3, 1945.
This historical event was in partnership with the Department of Tourism, Culture, and Arts of Manila (DTCAM) under the Office of the Manila City Government.
Remembering Capt. Colayco, the Thomasian WWII hero
Captain Manuel Colayco was a part of the United States Army Forces in the Far East (USAFFE) unit and, at that time, a faculty member of the University. Along with Lieutenant Diosdado Guytingco, he took the assignment that became a focal point in Philippine History: to confront the Japanese Imperial Forces bastion and to liberate the detainees in STIC.
Colayco guided the Allied Forces on their way to avoid the areas pestered with live mines that would have changed the course of their campaign.
Unfortunately, a grenade was hurled from the enemy lines, mortally wounding him and Guytingco near the main entrance of the University. However, through his heroic initiative, the Allied forces managed to capture the Japanese stronghold, heralding the end of the war that ravaged the world.
Watch the ceremonies here: https://www.facebook.com/ManilaPIO/videos/644218406701182