US Review of Books

  • Post comments:0 Comments
  • Post last modified:April 26, 2023
  • Reading time:3 mins read

A Child of World War II Writes: Love Is Timeless in War and Peace: A Truth Beyond Compare
by Lourdes J. Astraquillo Ongkeko, Ph.D.
New Leaf Media

book review by Barbara Bamberger Scott

“Love is direly needed in war. It is thus underscored in peace.”

Author Ongkeko was thirteen in December 1941 when her home city of Baguio in the Philippines was subjected to bombing by Japanese planes. This was followed by the city’s occupation by the Japanese military at the onset of war in the Pacific. After hours of initial bombardment, the young teen came home to a makeshift, hidden air raid shelter devised by her far-thinking father. She saw him beaten for failing to bow deeply enough to Japanese sentries. Later, he told her to immediately enroll in Japanese language school. She proved adept at language learning, having already mastered several Filipino languages and English. This allowed her to help herself and others during those dark war years. She received high grades and special attention from Japanese authorities impressed by her calm, astute understanding as expressed in her speech. By 1945, the Baguio citizens welcomed American troops to the city. Ongkeko would attend university in Manilla and emigrate to the U.S., where she and her family now live.

Ongkeko has created these touching, youthful recollections as a reminder that even extreme strife may evoke opportunities for selflessness and courage. Parents can maintain responsibility for their children, and children can learn and grow by their elders’ examples. Her writing is vivid and sensitive, describing in detail the incidents of armed occupation as seen close-up through the eyes of youngsters who find themselves without newspapers or transportation, forbidden to speak against the occupiers, holding secret prayer meetings at home in the absence of church attendance, and suffering along with the wider community the devastations of warfare. Her father continually provided guidance, both moral and practical. The effects of his caring throughout the war, along with Ongkeko’s wisdom garnered over the ensuing years, are now offered for others as a shining inspiration steeped in the lessons of harsh reality.

Leave a Reply