la salle taft


February 15, 1945. The shelling of De La Salle College continued at Taft Avenue, as Redemptorist Superior Francis Cosgrave, chaplain of the college, huddled with the massacre survivors at the back of the main altar of the chapel. He recognized certain voices speaking English. They were Americans, at the choir area of the chapel. Cosgrave struggled to his feet and tried to shout but his voice was very weak. Three days since the massacre and he with the survivors didn’t have any food, nor water. And most of all he had serious bayonet wounds. As he persevered, shouting, the Americans saw the survivors and ran towards them to rescue them.

Meanwhile, the battle climaxed at the nearby Rizal Memorial Stadium. The Imperial Japanese forces stored food and ammunitions within the structure and effectively fortified it. The liberation forces laid siege to it , while another unit attacked a Japanese garrison at Harrison Park, pushing the Japanese into the stadium.

At around 5:30 pm, the San Juan de Dios Hospital in Intramuros, the “oldest hospital in the Orient” succumbed to a deafening explosion, taking with it lives of many patients and members of the Daughters of Charity, nuns who managed the hospital.

Alfonso Aluit writes about the tragedy, right after the explosion:

On regaining her wits, Sister Concepcion Gotera asked herself, “Where do I run to?” She closed her eyes and sat on her heels, waiting for death to descend on her. When she found courage to look, Sister Concepcion realized she was soaking in blood. It was the blood of another nun who had been praying close to her, who now lay lifeless on the ground. “And who is this.. My God, my God, Sister Solisitas de St. Paul… but just a moment ago she was cheerfully comforting her patients!”

Close by lay the body of a hospital attendant whose shoulders had been neatly slashed away. The dead surround Sister Concepcion. Night fell over the nuns of San Juan de Dios hospital while they buried their dead in a shallow grave they scooped out in the premises.

“If we could we would shed tears of blood…”

Commemorating the 70th anniversary of the 1945 Battle of Manila, the gruelling battle for the liberation of the city that lasted from February 3 to March 3, 1945.


(1) Shelling of Intramuros (February 1945). From the collection of John Tewell. Photographer, Carl Mydans.

(2) San Juan de Dios Hospital in Intramuros, from the collection of John Tewell (unknown date, presumably before World War II)

(3) U.S. troops with a Sherman Tank, at the Rizal Memorial Stadium (February 1945), from Robert Ross Smith’s The War in the Pacific: Triumph in the Philippines