The Battle Memorial in Davao - Philippines
The epic story of the Battle Memorial all started in 1903 when the Japanese first started to appear and settle in Mintal, in the Tugbok District of Davao City. Very near the waterfront and facing the vast Davao Gulf that opens to the south, this area of the city was an easy gateway for any foreigner to Mindanao.
Mintal, Tugbok, the present site of the Battle Memorial, is a mute witness to the fierce and long battle between the Japanese army and the joint forces of Filipino and American soldiers in World War II. Scores of valiant Filipino, American, and Japanese soldiers died in the place, each asserting their right to the Tugbok District.
The Mintal Elementary School now stands near the Battle Memorial and also shares a niche in history, in a sense, being once the site of a huge abaca plantation coveted by Japanese migrant workers and capitalists. This was way back when the Bagobos still ruled and inhabited the place in the early 1900s. Samples of tools used in the plantations are now on exhibit at the Japanese Museum in Calinan, Davao.
In fact, inside the school is a shrine in honor of Otha Kyosaburu who appealed for a law with regards to land legislation in Mintal, Tugbok. It was the time when abaca plantations became a big issue with the locals and the Japanese immigrants. This was dragged forward to World War II, to the fierce battle that ensued, and now shares memory with the Battle Memorial.
Old Japanese houses can still be seen in the Toril District and Mintal in Tugbok near the Battle Memorial site. They are remnants of the influx of Japanese interest in the vicinity. The areas used to be erected with warehouses for the hemp and where abaca was processed. Somewhere in the immediate surroundings of the Battle Memorial is also a remembrance for one Col. Yamada who fought the allied forces.
Many Filipino, American, and Japanese visitors often drop by the Battle Memorial to pay tribute to their fallen heroes. Historic figures like General Douglas McArthur, a decorated war hero, and others paid visit. Another monument, the Japanese Memorial Shrine for peace, also in the same town, honors Japanese war veterans. Together with the Battle Memorial, this shrine is often visited by veterans and their relatives at least once a year.
For a refresher on the heroic moments of World War II in Tugbok District, it pays to drop by the Battle Memorial and reflect on the progress we have reached thus far.