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March 18, 2007

第194話 レイテの生き証人

 アナハワンは小さな町だ。ここでA氏が小さい頃通っていたと言う小学校に行ってみた。日曜日なので誰もいない。例によってフィリピンではどこでもそうであるように、小学校の屋根の色はここでも緑色だ。小学校の建物に隣接して小さな平屋建ての建物がある。彼は言った。

「あの建物が何なのか知っていますか?あれは第2次大戦中日本軍がオフィスとして使っていました。若い将校と3人くらいの兵隊が居たそうです。」 023_1

そのような建物がそのまま残されているとは驚きだ。やはりここはレイテだ。まだ戦争の爪跡が残されている。A氏が通っていた頃は2年生の教室として使われたそうで、彼も1年間そこで勉強したそうだ。勿論今でも現役の校舎として使われている。

「あんたは日本人かい?」一人の老人が近づいてきた。あー、恨みつらみを言われるかもしれない。とにかく話を聞くしかない。

「いやー、日本人はすごい。どうして日本人はそんなに勇敢なんだ?」

(…最近の日本人はそうでもないんですが…)

「アメリカやオーストラリアの連合軍が50人とか100人いる中に日本人はたった一人で立ち向かっていった。空でもそうだ。たった1機で何機かの飛行機と戦っていた。日本の兵隊は本当に勇敢だった。」

この老人は以前船乗りとして日本の港にも何度も降り立ったそうで、その時の印象も日本に対する印象をポジティブにしているようだ。

「日本人はいつも礼儀正しくお辞儀をした。町の中は整然としてどこもきれいだ。そうだ、あの食べ物、なんて言ったっけ?」箸でズルズルすするポーズ。

「ラーメン?ソバ?ウドン?」

「そうそう、ラーメン…ソーバー…オドン… 美味しかった…」

 日本軍に殺されたフィリピン人だって数多く居た、と言われるレイテ島。耳が痛くなる話も覚悟しただけにちょっと意外であった。この老人の受け止め方が全てを代弁している訳ではないだろう。多くの島民はどう受け止めているのだろうか。この老人の家はすぐ近くとのことで、ジュースとビスケットをご馳走になった。Anahawan1_1

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