A Memorial to Memories

I would like to thank the 18 who have signed my petition to Pledge to End All Wars. Thank you greatly.

As Bataan Day or the date is again ‘in the past’ in the march of days, I’ll recast this petition in a few days toward the setting up of a memorial to memories. Intriguing? Enigmatic? Only in words if that is how it sounds. This memorial will perhaps be the first monument not cast in stone but built on words.

The landscape of memories on WWII in the Philippines might be crowded by now with all kinds of retelling. But, each time anything about it is said or discussed, a swarm of memories start buzzing. It is truly amazing how the telling seems endless.

No matter how long ago that war is often referred to, its reality re­mains as vivid as if it were the day before. Apparently, war never dies with its heroes or its traitors both know and unknown. Time actually doesn’t heal the wounds inflicted on families who are innocent of a war, or in the case of Filipinos, the only war they ever experienced–and it wasn’t even theirs.Time it seems merely suspended the grieving as families coped with survival.

I know because I was born into one such family–my grand­father was executed by the Japanese. A pall sort of hovered in my childhood among my mother, aunts and uncles whose lives the war drastically changed. Until I migrated to Vancouver two and a half years ago, I was still uncovering shards of that day they lost him forever as not even his body was recovered.

Mention of that war even here in Vancou­ver–years removed and thousands of miles from the Philippines–hardly ever fails to touch a painful chord among Filipinos. For example a small item that I sent and was published in the Vancouver Courier on the two documen­tary films my cousin Lucky Guillermo came to screen for the 2008 World Peace Forum in November drew a small group. Wounds refreshed with the films “Manila 1945: The Forgotten Atrocities” and “ Unsurrendered: 100 Voices” as children and grandchildren of veterans shared impassioned memories; most were told the first time, and thus, too precious to be lost. We all agreed the only memorial worthy of their memories is yet another collection of such stories. 

A collection of all collections of stories or a gathering of these is the memo­rial that is yet to happen, this memorial of memories. How and when would it turn out and what shape it would take in what way will words become solid depends on what value the world gives to peace and the world is you.

We will hold on to and nurture this pledge to peace by keeping our memories alive. What better flame is there indeed.