BO-PK and the kamikaze in Cebu
It is almost amusing to see the dominant BO-PK party in the Cebu City Council as it continues to block the passage of Supplemental Budget No. 1 (SB1) on the very month that Japan’s suicide pilots, called the kamikaze, debuted 71 years ago. I wonder if, like those youthful pilots who died for both emperor and motherland ( also for both loyalty and honor) by committing hara-kiri (the
Japanese word for suicide) using their airplanes, the BO-PK is also on the verge of committing political suicide amidst a coal-hot election season. This, as intelligent voters of Cebu begin to weigh whether the party’s arguments and loyalty to their leader are more valid than the overpowering stench of garbage that continues to waft into haze- and smog-filled locales in the city now simmering in the clutches of the extremely hot and most humid El Niño weather phenomenon in recorded history.
I know very few people probably know this, but exactly 71 years ago last Sunday, or early in the morning of Oct. 25, 1944, five Mitsubishi Zeroes flew out of Lahug Airfield, joining other Zeroes from Clark in Pampanga to inaugurate the grimmest, and for the United States Navy, the most demoralizing weapon ever in the Pacific War: young Japanese pilots, barely out of their teens, diving their planes armed with at least one 450-kg bomb on the decks or bridges of American destroyers, battleships, and, the most important target of them all, aircraft carriers.
Unlike Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama, who has had some warning that the BO-PK would block his supplemental budget, the US Navy never saw the kamikaze coming. The US and Japan were then on the fourth day of the historic Battle of Leyte Gulf, when suddenly and without warning, kamikaze suicide pilots began appearing on the horizon.
This brief but extremely effective phase of the war known simply as kamikaze (or Divine Wind) special attack units of the Imperial Japanese Navy (IJN)—later joined by units of the Imperial Japanese Air Force—was actually hatched on the evening of 19 October at Clark Airfield during a visit by Vice Admiral Takijiro Onishi who had just assumed command of the IJN’s land-based forces in the Philippines two days before.
Talking to senior officers and the commanders of the 201st Air Group, Onishi presented his plan to neutralize US aircraft carriers in Leyte for at least a week by forming the Shimpu (or kamikaze) Tokubetsu Kogekitai (Divine Wind Special Attack Units) composed of Mistubishi A6M5 “Zero” or “Zeke” planes armed with one 450kg bomb each on their bellies.
The day after, Lt. Commander Tadashi Nakajima started forming the first four kamikaze units. Three of these were founded in Clark and were named “Shikishima,” “Asahi,” and “Yamazakura” while the fourth, formed out of the 601st Air Group based at Lahug Airfield, was named “Yamato.”
All four names allude to cultural undertones behind their creation and were taken from a poem by Norinaga Motoori expressing the four “Tai,” the symbols of the Japanese spirit: “Yamato” is the ancient name of Japan; “Shikishima” is its poetic name; “Asahi” refers to the rising sun, symbol of Japan; while “Yamazakura” is the sacred mountain valley of cherry blossoms.
The “Shikishima” from Clark and the “Yamato” from Lahug Airfield (the runway, for those too young to remember, is now the main highway of Cebu I.T. Park up to Waterfront Hotel) carried out the first organized kamikaze raids on US ships at Leyte Gulf that early morning of October 25. Of course, the US immediately sent huge twin-tailed, four-engine B-25 Liberators to bomb Lahug
Airfield, which the Japanese would then repair the following day. (This bombing-repairing exercise on Lahug would continue well until the day after the Talisay landing by US forces on March 26, 1945.)
Stretching the allusion further, one wonders what bombs Mayor Mike has up his sleeves that will eventually win the day for him. Fortunately for the good mayor, if we go by history, the Americans of course won the war. But while Japan was eventually defeated, these extreme suicide attacks from many other Japanese-held bases in the Visayas and Mindanao were proven effective in that between 25 October 1944 and 31 January 1945, 22 ships were sunk and 110 damaged as against 12 sunk and 25 damaged by conventional air attacks.
Will Mayor Mike eventually allow the BO-PK to delete some of the coveted items in SB1 for him to end this impasse or will the BO-PK’s intransigence eventually turn out indeed to be political suicide?
Remember, in politics, as in war, there are no permanent victors, only casualties and some survivors.
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