Thursday, June 20, 2019

Davao in the eyes of a nikkei jin

HISTORY takes us to places. Through the images of the past, we get a glimpse of what kind of world our forefathers had in the place we live in. And our very own Davao City had a fair share of antique stories worth remembering and cherishing in understanding our roots as individuals.

This did not even had to take me to Japan to know what the Second World War brought upon the city of Davao. The words of the Japanese descendants, also known as nikkie jin, and the researches by professors in the academe were gateway in seeing the world of the past.

Professor Ines P. Mallari, president of Mindanao Kokusai Daigaku and Philippine Nikkie Jin Kai International School, said the war was a huge game changer not only in the course of the Philippine history as whole but also to Davao’s cultural scene.

Mallari said the narratives of the descendants of the Japanese war veterans will somehow give us a different picture on the commonly portrayed scenario in most of our history books.

“It was in the 1900s that the Japanese influx came to Baguio to constructing the road which would connect Manila and Baguio, and would be later on known as Kennon Road. And later on they were told that there’s a good agricultural place here in Mindanao that is Davao,” Mallari said.

She added that the Japanese migrants from Davao later on established their presence in their new home in Mindanao by establishing the Japanese community called Davao Community. Their main source of income was abaca farming.

As soon as the Japanese migrants saw the opportunities to also prosper, different establishments were built like schools, hospitals, and even airports.

Definitely, the Japanese migrants were not all proprietors in forwarding the war and destruction in the country, she said, as some of them were also victims of displacement from their homes in the pursuit of a better life.

If there’s one thing that the war promised both the Japanese migrants and Filipino settlers during those times, it was change.

Doctorate candidate and research discussant from Osaka University Carmina Yu-Untalan said that forums that highlight narratives from the south are important in building a better picture of the Japanese occupation in the country and provide another prospective other than the Manila-centric type of Japanese occupation narratives.

“Research from history writer doctor Dennis J. Garcia showed that Japanese migrants had a good relationship with Filipino locals in Davao City as the farming industry is concerned. And it was possible to have a harmonious relationship with other culture,” she said.

Yu-Untalan added that though these narratives in the south will somehow “decentralized” those in the imperial Manila, more stories must also be looked in terms of the local struggles of the Lumad plight in Davao as major factor in terms of being settlers in the city.

Mallari said events like history forums are important in grounding one’s identity. After all, we are the fruits of our past.


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