“WAR does not determine WHO is RIGHT — only WHO is LEFT.” – bertrand russell –
The battle for Identity.
I first knew World War II through my father, how the Filipinos suffered when Japan occupied the Philippines. No, not the who’s or what happened to the Japanese generals and the soldiers or the Filipino guerillas. He told me the story of how his families suffered during that time and became worst after the war.
During dinner time, my father tell stories about his family life before and after the war, as were told by his mother. About his father and his grandfather who was a Japanese migrated in the Philippines in late 19th century. During that time, his mother was considered “Donya” , a term used to address a rich woman in the Philippines, because the family had one or two household helpers. Since his mother was sickly, only the 9th and 10th child had survived and lived, and my father was the 10th child to be born. Unfortunately, months after my father was born, his father and grandfather was abducted and killed and believed were threw to the sea. Since then, everything changed.
My father was brought to a relatives, while his mother went to Manila and became a household helper to support the family. After 5 years, his mother came back to the province and brought them to Manila together with his elder sister. By that time, his mother had a new husband. When my father started going to school he had followed the named after his mother new husband.
My father excelled in academic , he finished his high school and even took an exam for the US marine and passed. When it is time to submit all the documents needed, my father found out in his birth and baptismal certificate was a named different from the named he was using. He became devastated at that time, knowing that he missed the opportunity of his lifetime.
And soon after that, his mother told him everything about his real father. And he started to understand why his stepfather abused and mistreated him.
Knowing my father’s story, I distinctly remember a time when I was 12 years old, when I started to write my “would-be” (japanese) real name, in secret. At that early age, I had felt what my father had been wanting for all his life.
Fortunately year 1995, when he learned that he was a “NIKKEIJIN” (japanese descendants) through his uncles and began to search related documents to prove his identity. Finally, he can embrace and acquire his real name. However, it was not that easy.
Two decades had passed and his struggles continue.
My father’s story and battle to claim and to register his true identity now becomes my own story and battle. And this battle will pass to my children, and to my children’s children and to the next generations.
The world war II was over seven decades ago, but for some who has lost his/her family and identity the battle is not yet over.