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July 04, 2005

第21話 もうひとつの戦後4(慰霊)

 コレヒドールは5平方キロメートルと小さく、おたまじゃくしのような形で東西に細長い。島の北側からはバターン半島が指呼の間だ。恐らくA氏のお兄さんも間近に迫った運命を察することなく、今日と同じような穏やかな海と景色を見ていたのだろう。件の白鹿丸はこの島のすぐ南側を通ったと推測されている。A氏も感慨深げに遠くを見やっている。A氏は昼食後、南西方向が良く見える浜辺に下りて、持参してきた慰霊のための品を目的方向の海中に投じて、祈りを捧げた。私とU氏はこの儀式にはむしろ同行しないこととして、レストランで待つこととした。その間も彼の同僚たちは万が一に備えてA氏を背後から警護していた。
 この島では日米双方と地元のフィリピン人で数万人というおびただしい犠牲者が出たそうだ。戦争の爪あとの建物や施設とともに夫々の戦没者慰霊碑がきれいに整備されて残されている。侵略者の立場となった日本人の慰霊碑も島の東端にあり、今でもきれいに整備されている。このあたりにもこの国の人達の寛容さがよく表れている。以前、当時のラモス大統領は言われたそうだ。「日本はかつてこの国を侵略したが、いいものも持ってきてくれた。日本語特有の韻はフィリピン人の言葉の教育に役立った。かき氷はハロハロと形を変え、今ではこの国の名物にもなっている。このようなことも評価しよう。」と。
 我々は3時過ぎに再びフェリーに乗り込み、マニラに向かった。マニラは汚れた空気で霞んでいた。

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