Philippine Cartoons during the Japanese Occupation
(Note by the author: I have written this essay a few months ago. I have hardly have time to edit it so I beg your compassion if there are errors in grammar and composition. I have tried with great care to avoid errors in historical facts as they could be very hard to correct once read by people. This article is a much-shortened version of the 30 plus page I have originally written. My plan is to make this into a weekly installment article in this blog. People just tend to get tired easily reading long articles in the internet.
It is virtually impossible to trace the copyright owners of the images that will appear herein. What I have in mind is to make this blog a humble contribution to the growing awareness of our rich komiks heritage. Of course, everyone knows that a blogger receives nothing financially, so I ask the indulgence of everyone concerned)
Cartoons were put to effective use during the Japanese occupation as a tool of propaganda. The Japanese knew well that cartoons had a wide appeal to people, and they took advantage of its popularity to propagandize their policy of occupation.
A Need for Moral Justification
Throughout history, every conquering nation needs to come up with a moral justification for occupying another nation. In its history, the Philippines had been conquered three times by foreign powers. These conquering nations- Spain, the United States and Japan- need to make a valid and justified moral reason in order to win over the cooperation of the subjugated nation. This is an imperative colonial strategy in order to establish a moral ascendancy to rule, as well as to dissipate any future revolt by the conquered populace.
When Spain conquered the Philippines, the moral justification was that they aimed to spread Catholicism in a pagan country, to make Christians out of heathens. The tools of propaganda were the friars who brought with them religious rites and ceremonies to attract the population.
In the case of the United States’ conquest of the Philippines, its moral justification was the credo of colonial rule: “White Man’s Burden”: that it was the moral duty of the white people, being the superior race, to take care of his less-fortunate “brown” brothers, i.e, the Filipinos.
The Japanese, on their part, had to invent their own moral justification when they attacked the Philippines during the Second World War. They claimed that it was the Americans, and not the Filipinos, they were waging war against. Their propaganda was the credo Asia for Asians, Philippines for the Filipinos. They posed themselves as liberators instead of conquerors.
In order to better convince the Filipinos of their “friendly” invasion, the Japanese had to resort to the use of propaganda. In a propaganda war, the printed word is an effective weapon to convince, to manipulate, and to conquer. More so was the use of graphic images such as cartoons and comic strips, as they have mass appeal and can easily be understood by people.
Cartoons as Propaganda Tool
As soon as Japanese war planes hovered over Philippine skies, the Japanese already began to use propaganda tactics in order to justify their invasion. Japanese pilots dropped hundreds of leaflets from the skies in order to win over the support of the Filipinos against the Americans.
This leaflet portrayed that the Japanese were in fact liberators of the Filipinos from the American colonizers.
This cartoon leaflet was meant to remind the Filipinos of American atrocities during the Filipino-American War of 1899. Although there were indeed atrocities committed by the Americans during the Fil-Am War, yet this cartoon had errors in fact. Leonard Wood was not yet in the Philippine Islands when this war happened.
Dropped by Japanese war planes in the island of Corregidor during the intense bombing of the island fortress, this leaflet was meant to convey the message to the Filipino-American soldiers the futility of fighting, and to surrender, as their resistance was hopeless. The Filipino soldiers at this time were already demoralized by the lack of food and constant bombings by the Japanese, and the cartoons showing plenty of food waiting for them outside Corregidor was meant to take advantage of this weakness.(to be continued...)