70th Shinyo Maru commemoration’s unveiling of marker held in Sindangan PDF Print E-mail
Wednesday, 01 October 2014 13:35

The Municipality of Sindangan, in partnership with the Department of Tourism-9 and the Zamboanga del Norte Provincial Government, held the 70th Shinyo Maru  commemoration’s unveiling of the marker last September 7, 2014 at Barangay R.G.  Macias, Sindangan, Zamboanga del Norte.

A commemorative marker was constructed at the site where the survivors were  sheltered and fed by the locals.    Accordingly, it is also the place where they were picked-up by another US submarine.

Various historians, heads of agencies in region 9, local officials and residents of Zamboanga del Norte attended the said commemoration.

The program began with a historical narrative by Dir. Mary June Bugante of DOT9  followed by a message from Mr. Gerald Randolph Anderson, project head of the World War II Hell Ships memorial in Subic Bay, who also represented the Americans. The  unveiling of the marker ceremony followed. Mayor Nilo Florentino Sy of the Municipality of Sindangan welcomed the guests to the event while Col. Apolinario Alobba (GSC) PA,  Commanding Officer of the 101 Brigade 1ID PA, introduced the keynote speaker, BGen  Gerardo Barrientos Jr., Commanding General of the First Infrantry (Tabak) Division.

Messages were then given by Hon. Senen O. Angeles, Zamboanga del Norte Vice  Governor, and Hon. Rosendo S. Labadlabad, representative of the 2nd Congressional District of Zamboanga del Norte.

The commemoration paid tribute to the bravery of the American survivors and to the  heroism of the Filipinos, specifically the Sindanganons, whose bravery, kindness and  generosity prevented the prisoners of wars’ recapture, thus saved their lives.

Moreover, the commemoration was in recognition of the Shinyo Maru incident which  took place during the Second World War. The National Archives (Winter 2003, Vol.35, No. 4) recounts the incident:

“Crowded into the foul and steamy holds of an unidentified ship were 750 U.S. POWs,  most of them survivors of POW Camp #2-Davao, Mindanao, Philippines. Since  February 29, 1944, 650 officers and enlistees labored on a Japanese airfield at Lasang.

The other 100 had similarly worked on another airfield south of Davao. All 750 were  marched shoeless to the Tabunco Pier on August 19. On August 20, they were packed  into the holds of the ship.

Late in the afternoon of August 24, the ship arrived in Zamboanga. The prisoners had  no idea of where they were until the men who went topside to empty the latrine cans returned to tell them. The men were all very dirty, many suffering from heat rash and  frequent blackouts.

After ten days of waiting in the harbor, they were transferred to the Shinyo Maru on  September 4. On September 7, hatch covers were placed more closely together and  secured by ropes to prevent lifting from below. They sailed for fourteen hours without an air raid alert, and many felt that the worst part of the journey was over.

There was a terrific explosion, followed by a second one. Heavy obstacles came  crashing down from above. Dust filled the air and bleeding men lay all over each other in mangled positions, arms, legs, and bodies broken. The deck was strewn with mangled bodies.

Japanese soldiers fired at Americans swimming in the water or shot at those struggling up from the holds. A terrific cracking sound was heard. The boat seemed to bend up in the middle and was finally swallowed up by the water.

The local Filipinos and members of the “Volunteer Guards” risked their lives to assist  the eighty-three men who made it to shore. One of the eighty-three died the next day.  After nursing the survivors back to health, they, then, assisted the survivors in returning to the United States.

The death of Shinyo Maru was duly noted by a Japanese cipher clerk at 1650 hours on  September 7, the victim of a “torpedo attack.” An intercept of September 10 reported  150 Japanese army casualties. Lt. Commander Nowell later reported that ‘this is  probably the attack in which U.S. POWs were sunk, and swam ashore.”

During the press conference of the 70th Shinyo Maru Commemoration, Dir. Bugante  emphasized that tie-ups with Department of Education for students’ historical tours will  eventually be done. She also said that since it is a local marker, DOT9 will pass it to the  National Historical Commission of the Philippines (NHCP) for its national recognition.

Lastly, she made mention that she has been receiving good responses from the families of survivors who are glad that such a commemoration was done.

Furthermore, Mayor Sy said that in the tourism perspective, Sindangan is only known  for its Su-tu-kil (Sugba, tula, kilaw) dish. With this new project, Sindangan will have  more to offer in terms of tourism. He then told the media guests that the organizers,  specifically divers from Dipolog City, attempted to dive the Sindangan Bay in search of  the Shinyo Maru shipwreck but due to limited gears as leisure divers, no shipwreck was  found. He emphasized further that the commemoration was focused on the bravery and  heroism of the survivors and Sindanganons rather than the incident itself. Lastly, he made mention that a usufruct agreement was made between the Municipality of  Sindangan and the Macias family for 300 square meters of land where the marker is  found. But, the Macias family is willing to expand it to 1 hectare depending on the  improvements of the marker.

The unveiling of the marker serves as the first step to the future Shinyo Maru projects.