In time of need, an open door: Holocaust rescue in the Philippines

The Bienvenido N. Santos Creative Writing Center and the Literature Department in cooperation with the European Documentation Centre and the American Corner Manila hosted a forum entitled, In Time of Need, an Open Door: Holocaust Rescue in the Philippines held last June 05, 2014.

The speaker, Dr. Sharon Delmendo, a Professor of English at St. John Fisher College, Rochester, NY, profoundly shared her insights and research as she is currently writing the history of the Manilaners, while serving as the Co-Producer and Humanities Scholar of the documentary film on the subject. In addition, she is completing Pacific Theater: Reel War in the Philippines 1939-1950, an analysis of Hollywood-produced WWII films set in the Philippines made while the war was on-going and setting the films in their military and political context of Philippine-American relations during the Commonwealth era.

Her talk started with a documentary film viewing from a narrative of those persons saved at the time of the Holocaust. After which, Dr. Delmendo profoundly shared her research and insights on World War II’s unsung stories which showcased how the Philippines became a haven for European Jews fleeing the Holocaust. A small network of people – Jews, Catholics and Protestants, Filipinos and Americans – combined forces and exploited the unique political construction of the Philippine Commonwealth to secure sanctuary to over 1,300 European Jews who collectively became known as the Manilaners. Commonwealth President Manuel Quezon, with his Filipino and American associates, tried to save hundreds of thousands of European Jews. This is indeed a tapestry of titanic political forces interwoven with fascinating individual and family stories.