It must have been shocking for the people of Barangay Dinocot in Sindangan, Zamboanga del Norte seventy years ago, on the 7th of September, when the Japanese forces during World War II were starting to retreat when a deafening blast reverberated across the beach and into the tranquil Macias Hacienda. An ear splitting sound that would have shocked the people into fear.
Off the coast of this barangay, a Japanese prison ship, the Shinyo Maru was just torpedoed by an American submarine. Unknown to the Americans, a clear case of failure in intelligence, the ship was carrying 750 mostly American prisoners of war from Davao.
The ensuing blast also signaled the cries of machine guns as the desperate Japanese resorted to a massacre, 677 were killed, a carnage that might have turned the sea to blood. Despite this sad day, 83Â (1 eventually died) were able to reach shore.
The people of the barangay, now present day Barangay R. Macias, helped these survivors. With the leadership of Don Ramon Macias, owner of the hacienda, they were fed, reared back to health and taken cared of. After a few months, these prisoners of war were picked up by the Americans on the same beach where they escaped and brought to Australia and back to the USA.
Its because of this heroism of the people of the barangay, long unrecognized and of which our history books are silent of their heroic deeds that the Philippine government wanted to correct and honor. Hence, 70 years after, a historical marker now stands.
The afternoon sun cast a beautiful light as I was walking towards the edge of the grassy clearing, to where the sandy beach starts bordered with trees. People were abuzz behind me as they were preparing for the unveiling of the marker and waiting for the dignitaries to arrive.
It was low tide and several boys were playing at the beach. I can hear the rustling of the leaves and the slight breaking of the waves as well as the gleeful shouts of the children. With my camera I took several photos.
Seventy years ago, the sea turned blood but thanks to the good people of this barangay, they became heroes!
GETTING THERE: Barangay R Macias is located before the town proper of Sindangan in Zamboanga del Norte. You need to make a right turn, if your coming from Dipolog City, to The Macias Hacienda. Just follow the road to the beach and once you see the coast, look for the marker at a clearing to the right near the edge of the coconut plantation. There are plans to develop further the area as a memorial park.
Thanks to the Department of Tourism Region 9 via Elle Carrasco for the invite.