See all those languages up there? We translate Global Voices stories to make the world's citizen media available to everyone.

Learn more about Lingua Translation  »

Colorized Photos Show Manila in Ruins After the Second World War

Colored photo of the old legislative building which was destroyed during the Battle of Manila. Photo from the official gazette of the Philippine government

Colorized photo of the old legislative building which was destroyed during the Battle of Manila. Photo from the official gazette of the Philippine government

During World War II, Manila was occupied by the Japanese Imperial Army. In early 1945, American forces and Filipino guerrilla fighters liberated the Philippine capital after a month of battle. Because of the fierce fighting and heavy bombings, Manila became the second most devastated Allied capital (next to Warsaw, Poland) during World War II.

To commemorate the 70th anniversary of the bloodshed in 2015, the Philippine government launched an online portal which features photos, videos, essays, maps, testimonies, and other reports pertaining to the historic battle. The special collection also offers colorized photos of some of the iconic buildings and war scenes in old Manila.

During the Battle of Manila, more than 100,000 civilians were killed and the city’s government buildings were almost completely destroyed. The government briefer sums up the situation in the capital after the battle:

100,000 Filipinos perished, government buildings lay in ruins—and Manila was Pearl of the Orient no more. The once illustrious city and the Orient’s first cosmopolitan hub that merged the East and West now vanished under piles of debris.

The European heritage of Manila (Philippines was a colony of Spain for more than 300 years) was lost because of the destruction of the city. The government briefer adds:

Filipinos lost invaluable articulations of culture and their identity as a people. Government buildings, universities and colleges, churches as well as other institutional landmarks perished along with all the valuables in their possession. Buildings suffered demolition to pave the way for progress. This meant doing away with European architecture in lieu of the functional, American style architecture that inspires some of our buildings today. Only few among the original edifices would remain intact.

Take a look at some of the colorized photos of old Manila after the war. Some photos are also superimposed with how they look today:

Colored photo of American soldiers during the Battle of Manila. Photo from the official gazette of the Philippine government

Colorized photo of American soldiers during the Battle of Manila. Photo from the official gazette of the Philippine government

Colored photo of Manila downtown in ruins. Photo from the official gazette of the Philippine government

Colorized photo of Manila downtown in ruins. Photo from the official gazette of the Philippine government

Superimposed photo of soldiers crossing the Pasig River and how it looks today. Photo from the official gazette of the Philippine government

Superimposed photo of soldiers crossing the Pasig River and how it looks today. Photo from the official gazette of the Philippine government

Colored photo of soldiers in front of the presidential palace. Photo from the official gazette of the Philippine government

Colored photo of soldiers in front of the presidential palace. Photo from the official gazette of the Philippine government

Superimposed photo of Japanese soldiers marching near the presidential palace and how the street looks today. Photo from the official gazette of the Philippine government

Superimposed photo of Japanese soldiers marching near the presidential palace and how the street looks today. Photo from the official gazette of the Philippine government

This memorial was built to honor the civilians who died during the Battle of Manila. Photo from the official gazette of the Philippine government

This memorial was built to honor the civilians who died during the Battle of Manila. Photo from the official gazette of the Philippine government

This rare video documentary, shot in Kodak color, provides a glimpse of the devastation caused by the war:

While Japanese forces are mainly to blame for killing thousands of civilians, some historians have also accused the American military of bombing government buildings and other infrastructure that destroyed the economy of the country’s capital.

Receive great stories from around the world directly in your inbox.

Sign up to receive the best of Global Voices
Email Frequency



No thanks, show me the site