18 photos that show Manila before and after World War II

See how the ruins of modern Manila became the foundations for the contemporary Philippine capital

by Mags Ocampo

Within four years of its liberation, Manila was restored to its former beauty, clearing the devastation left in the wake of one of mankind’s most terrible wars. See how the ruins of modern Manila became the foundations for the contemporary Philippine capital

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American soldiers entering Intramuros. Manila, Philippines, March 2, 1945. Photograph from the US Army.

In the span of 28 days, Japanese forces ravaged the once-beautiful Philippine capital, Manila. From February 3, 1945 to March 3 of the same year, Filipino and American soldiers went head to head with Japanese invaders. Ultimately, the battle ended in a blood bath of massive proportions that left the city totally devastated.

Below are images from the collection of pilot, photographer, and collector John Tewell that show the city and its people before invasion and after the Battle of Manila.

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G. Koba Yashi Building (1940) just before the bombing and invasion by the Japanese. Manila, Philippines, Late 1941. Photograph by Carl Mydans.

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Nippon Bazar. Manila, Philippines, just before WWII late 1941.

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Toyko Bazar. Manila, Philippines, Dec. 1, 1941. A view of Toyko Bazar still open and doing business in Manila one week before Japan bombed and invaded the Philippines.

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Inside Quiapo Church looking out just before the bombing and invasion by the Japanese late 1941. Manila, Philippines. Photograph by Carl Mydans.

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Filipinos citizens fleeing the fighting. Manila, Philippines, Feb. 1945. Photograph by Carl Mydans.

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The Metropolitan Theater after the Americans took control at the Battle for Manila. Manila, Philippines, Feb. 1945.

War-torn remnants photographed just after the Battle for Manila, March 1945, Manila, Philippines.

War-torn remnants photographed just after the Battle for Manila, March 1945. Manila, Philippines.

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WWII Battle for Manila. Intramuros, Manila, Philippines March 1945. Filipino survivors from the Santa Clara Monastery being rescued by American soldiers right after being liberated from the Japanese.

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An arch with the sign ‘Manila Welcomes Distinguished Guests’ in a traffic circle in Manila, the Philippines, 1945. The photo was taken from Manila City Hall looking south-southwest down Padre Burgos Ave. that runs in front of the WWII destroyed Legislative Building. Photograph by James Kirkpatrick.

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Legislative Building, Manila, Philippines, WWII damage, 1945. Photograph by Hugh M. Morton.

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View from Quiapo Church, Manila, Philippines, May 1945. Photograph by Carl Mydans.

Chinese volunteers in the Philippines 1945. Photograph by Carl Mydans.

Chinese volunteers in the Philippines 1945. Photograph by Carl Mydans.

Chinese volunteers in the Philippines 1945. Photograph by Carl Mydans.

Chinese volunteers in the Philippines 1945. Photograph by Carl Mydans.

Lourdes Church, Recoletos Church, Intramuros, Manila, Philippines, July 1946.

Lourdes Church, Recoletos Church, Intramuros, Manila, Philippines, July 1946.

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WWII veterans against MacArthur petition signing event, University of California, USA, March 1948. Photograph by NR Farbman.

Manila, Pasig River, Philippines, Oct. 10, 1949.

Manila, Pasig River, Philippines, Oct. 10, 1949. Photograph by Jack Birns.

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Rizal Monument, Luneta Park, Manila, Philippines, Oct. 10, 1949. Photograph by Jack Birns.