Breaking the Silence (Revised Edition)

Breaking the Silence is a story reluctantly told by the author, a survivor of Japanese atrocities during the liberation of Manila. It was first partially recounted to Nick Joaquin who had been commissioned by the author’s family and the Far Eastern University to write a biography of Dr. Nicanor Reyes, university founder and first president. The book was meant to commemorate the centennial year of Dr. Reyes’s birth.Finding difficulty responding to interview questions about her father’s death, the author resorted to writing diary entries and narratives. Her journal says: “When Nick asks me about our experiences during the war, how shall I recall the horrors that I had pushed back to the deep recesses of my mind? How can I describe what I could never talk about? Someone once said that some experiences lie beyond language because their language is Silence.”Nick Joaquin’s book was launched on February 11, 1995, by coincidence almost exactly fifty years after Dr. Reyes and his family had perished. A memorial to the non-combatant victims of the battle for the liberation of Manila was inaugurated in the Plazuela de Sta. Isabel in Intramuros on February 18. The author and other survivors belonging to Memorare-Manila raised funds for the monument. They were asked to surmount the pain and anguish of reliving their experiences, and to tell the story of the innocent civilians who had died in the battle.This is Lourdes R. Montinola’s sharing of her story. She granted permission to the University of the Philippines Creative Writing Center and the UP Press to publish the book to honor over 100,000 men, women, and children, the unsung heroes of the “most barbarous episode of the Pacific War.”

About the Author

Lourdes Reyes Montinola’s main interests lie in the field of art and culture, and lately in heritage conservation. She is a member of the Oriental Ceramic Society, the Asia Society, and Concerned Citizens of the Museum Foundation, among other civic, religious, and charitable organizations. She is Chair Emeritus of the Board of Trustees of the Far Eastern University.
Her book Piña (1991) was written because of a desire to preserve a national treasure in danger of extinction. It won the Manila Critics’ Circle National Book Award for Art in 1991. Breaking the Silence (1996) also won the Manila Critics Circle Award in the category of Biography. It was also selected by the Editorial Board as a University of the Philippines Press Centennial Publication in celebration of the first 100 years of the University of the Philippines.