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CHAPTER 2

The Japanese occupation brought about another period of oppression and death
for the Filipino people something very well familiar. Although it lasted just about 4
years, the occupation was nothing short of a success for the Japanese. They were able
to take a relatively strong hold of the country especially in Manila. Part of their success
can be attributed not only from their exacting military force but also from their use of
media and propaganda. The Japanese were able take control of practically all forms of
media at the time: print, radio and theater. Much like the Philippines past colonizers,
they were able to silence the voice of our people by covering it up with biased news and
propaganda. The Japanese used all forms of media at their disposal: radio, newspapers
and other print materials. They continued radio broadcasts and newspaper printing to
spread their influence throughout the country.
Although World War II was under way, the Japanese forces in the Philippines
tried their best to pacify the Filipino people. They used the slogan Asia for Asiatics to
convince Filipinos, especially the guerrillas, to lower arms and accept the rule of the
Japanese empire. They believed that what they were doing was freeing the Philippines
from the westerners. Using all available platforms of media, the Japanese spread word
of their cause.
During the time, it was radio and print that proved to me the most effective. All
the information going out to the Filipino public was supervised by the Japanese and
they used that to bring the Philippines back to their Eastern roots. Japan tried its best
to bring about the illusion of a peaceful state. People were living in these towns like it
was normal, children had gone back to school and the like. As described earlier,
newspapers and radio stations continued to blast the public. It can be said that the use
of different kinds of media did influence the Filipino people during that period. It affected
how they saw world events at that time, as information was filtered by the Japanese to
add to the illusion of normalcy.

One such newspaper controlled by the Japanese was The Tribune. The news
during that period consisted of updates about the war with the west and the guerillas
that continued to fight against the Japanese. It also included news on how the Japanese
built schools, roads and other improvements in infrastructure. It also included a section
with lessons in Niponggo, the Japanese language. Furthermore, The Tribune was also
used to announce public Target Practice for able-bodied civilians. This was in
coordination with the Headquarters for the Defense of the City of Manila which was
under the Japanese military. Other than public announcements, the newspapers also
updated the Philippines on the important events happening in Japan. In the November
2, 1942 issue of the Tribune, there was news on a certain Meizi Shrine Competition
happening in Tokyo. It happened to be a cycling competition in honor of the Japanese
emperor. In addition to news from mainland Japan, the newspapers also put out articles
and stories on how Filipinos observed Japanese holidays. In another issue of The
Tribune, the headline was Filipinos Observe Meizi-Setu Today. The event was in
celebration for the birthday of the late Japanese emperor Meiji.
These are just a few examples of how the Japanese used print media to try and
sway the Filipino people. Filipinos were bombarded with information that made it seem
that the Japanese were friendly and, more importantly, had the upper hand in the war.
There were headlines, left and right, of guerrilla soldiers surrendering and ex-USAFFE
soldiers taking the oath of loyalty to Japan. News articles of Japanese naval forces
winning against the Americans were also present. There was one article that said:
Americas greatest need today is not ships, but an admiral that knows his job. This
was an obvious jab at Admiral George Dewey and it could have lowered the morale of
the Filipinos who were still rooting for America.
In another attempt to give the appearance of friendliness, the Japanese also put
out advertisements in the newspapers for writing contests for essays and poems. It was
an avenue for Filipinos to publicly cooperate with Japanese. In an issue of The Tribune
dated November 8, 1942, there was such a contest with the theme of What Every
Filipino Should Do. One submission (by a Filipino) talked about how the Filipinos
should embrace their oriental roots and how it was every Filipinos duty to make the

Philippines a worthy member of the Greater East-Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere. It is quite


possible that the Japanese fabricated this essay in order to brainwash people into
cooperation. It was equally possible, however, that some Filipinos did actually feel that
way.
The Japanese also made use of the radio stations that were already established
during the American period. The radio broadcasts were composed of announcements
from the Japanese military similar to those in the newspapers. There were morning
calisthenics and exercises being implemented by the Japanese to put a premium on
good health and discipline. A voice over the radio was used to lead these exercises. The
radio was also used to teach Niponggo. In fact, there were ads on the newspapers that
said: Japanese Languange Lessons on KZRH radio. News of the war were also
broadcasted over the radio waves and of course the information put out was heavily
biased towards the Axis powers. The radio was another important tool for the Japanese
military to extend their reach in the Philippines. The broadcasts were heard throughout
the cities and even by the guerillas who were still in hiding.
The Japanese also took control of the film industry in the Philippines during their
occupation. They brought Japanese film to the Philippines perhaps in an attempt to
introduce more oriental culture back to the country. However, most films shown during
the time were educational videos and the like.
Although western films were discontinued by the Japanese, the art of theater was
allowed to continue in the country. The Filipinos were still allowed to produce plays and
the most popular genre was vaudeville or, more popularly known in the Philippines,
bodabil. This was perhaps the biggest source of entertainment for the Filipinos during
that time as it was practically the only thing that was permitted. Theater was alive and
well during the Japanese occupation and it was one of the only avenues that Filipinos
had to voice out, albeit in a subtle way. Similar to what happened during the American
times, Filipino plays had their fair share of subtle messages that were anti-Japanese.
Those silent pokes at the Japanese government could be seen as a testament to

rebellious nature of us Filipinos. It was a sign that Filipinos still continued to fight against
the Japanese colonizers in even in a small way.
The Japanese put in effort to pacify the Filipino people and part of that mission
was to control and manipulate the dissemination of information. They used all forms of
media to demoralize and brainwash citizens into obedience. Japanese propaganda was
everywhere. In fact, the Japanese military used print media to convince Filipinos to
surrender. Before the Philippines was completely occupied, there were still soldiers
fighting in Bataan. It was one of the last places of resistance against the Japanese.
Flyers filled with images of food (ham and turkey), wine, cigarettes and women were airdropped by the Japanese to the Filipino soldiers to entice them into surrendering.
Furthermore, the words What Are You Really Fighting For? were blasted along with
those tempting pictures. By using and abusing these platforms of media, the Japanese
were able to put Filipino citizens into complacency. Words and voices against the
Japanese Empire were prohibited, but Filipinos were still able to find a way to speak
through the use of theater and bodabil. Perhaps this sense of rebellion hidden behind
the drama and comedy of the stage was the reason why theater was the center of
popular culture during that time.