SAN Pedro, CA – Philippine Expressions Bookshop will host a book talk on June 30, featuring “We Were There Too, Uncle,” a compendium of stories and essays about the civilian prisoners in Japanese-occupied Philippines during World War ll.
The book talk event, which is from 3:00 pm–6:00 pm, will be held at the bookshop at 479 West Sixth St., Suite 105, San Pedro, CA. It is open and free to the public.
According to bookshop owner Linda Nietes-Little, the Japanese Occupation of the Philippines is a dark phase of our history and more young people should really know what happened then, so that they will better understand and appreciate the sacrifices of those who died for our freedom. Filipino soldiers have fought bravely side by side with American soldiers.
It has been 73 years since WW II ended, but the “scars and trauma have remained in the Filipino psyche,” Nietes pointed out.
“While we may have forgiven the atrocities of the Japanese, we should not forget this phase in our history so that history will not repeat itself,” Nietes added.
“We Were There Too, Uncle” talks about life in captivity of allied prisoners kept by the Japanese Imperial Army at the Santo Tomas Internment Camp (STIC) within the campus of the historic University of Santo Tomas.
The book is well-researched which goes through the different perspectives and personal stories of the internees – imprisoned children, housewives, company executives and civilian members of the American, British and other foreign communities caught in Manila by the war. They were rounded up and detained at STIC until they were liberated by Allied forces guided by Filipino guerrilla forces. They experienced and saw the war first hand, especially the bombing and the Liberation of Manila.
Book Talk speaker and book editor Angus Lorenzen was one of the imprisoned children at STIC. He will share memories of the war through the eyes of a child. He was seven years old when he, his Mom and sister were interned at STIC. He came out of the internment at age 10 thoroughly traumatized. A retired engineer with a degree from UC-Berkeley, he now resides in Rancho Palos Verdes, CA.
People in the US think that only Japanese citizens were held in internment camps by America. The book reminds us that the Japanese in East Asia held almost 14,000 American civilians, and over 100,000 Allied civilians, under far worse conditions.
The American government, despite large bonuses to Japanese-Americans (and also Japanese-Americans who returned to Japan after the war), have not recognized the American civilians held as prisoners by the Japanese. Of 13,996 Americans held by Japan, 992 died, and 544 disappeared without accountability.
At times the book is grim and morose, especially when going through detail by intricate detail about the Battle of Manila and how hundreds of thousands Filipinos died as a result of the Japanese occupation. But it does offer some brief moments of hope and optimism, as it tells in cartoons and anecdotal accounts about how people survived in the Philippines around the same time period.
Nietes said that people who experienced WW ll first hand have an obligation to share the stories to the younger generation, to serve as “living libraries” of events past. “This is my legacy to young people who would care to listen, and I share events willingly in whatever way I can,” she said. Book Talks of this nature is her way of sharing because it give the audience a chance to hear from the authors themselves.
Nietes said that “she enjoys these opportunities where she can listen to authors speak about their books and their experiences. It always adds to my knowledge. Nowadays, it is an asset to be street-smart and knowledgeable! Do not walk around with an empty mind!”
Regular Book Talks are sponsored by the bookshop as part of their community-outreach program. It also increases awareness for the Filipino presence in America. For more information about the book talk, or to RSVP for the event, call (310) 514-9139; or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.