After remaining silent for over 70 years, a former Lasallite speaks up on his grievous experience during the massacre that happened in the Most Blessed Sacrament (MBS) chapel at the hands of the Japanese army.
In an interview with The LaSallian, Fernando Vasquez-Prado, who graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration in 1961 from the University, recounts his experiences during the war that damaged his entire life.
Vasquez-Prado was only five years old when the incident occurred. In his speech during a mass conducted at the MBS Chapel organized by the De La Salle Alumni Association (DLSAA) last December 7, he recalled how his mother was assassinated by Japanese soldiers. Vasquez-Prado shared that due to how she caught the attention of the soldiers, his mother was killed with a sword and was cut into several pieces.
“My mother jumped the Japanese soldiers and she scratched them and fought them like a tigress. She did not stop until I fainted and she even [thought] that the attention went to her, in order for the soldiers to not see me,” he conveys. He emphasized how painful it was seeing his mother die right in front of his very eyes and not being able to do anything about it. The MBS chapel was full of martyrs who were killed during the war.
Asked on how he managed to survive, he shares that he was blessed to even live that day. “I was lucky enough that when the Americans came in to La Salle, one of the soldiers was a Filipino soldier who knew my family. They wanted to take me to the States but this soldier brought me to my auntie who was still unmarried and she took care of me, here in the Philippines. She treated me so well. That’s another blessing I have to thank God for,” Vasquez-Prado recounts.
However, after his horrific experience, he shares that he was depressed, that he did not see the meaning of life for quite some time. “[I] did not speak for two years after the war because the shock was so strong. Until one day, my auntie who took care of me called me by the nickname my mother gave me. I started crying and [that moment allowed me to finally] speak again.”
Teary-eyed and heartbroken, he reveals that the reason why he shared his story was not for himself, but for his mother. “I wanted my classmates [who] I’ve been with for 20 to 30 years to know what a woman my mother was.” His batchmates were present during the mass and were all listening intently to his story. The chapel was filled with Lasallites, as they called it back then, since the University was formerly an exclusive school for boys. Vasquez-Prado also reports that only around four or five people were saved [from the massacre]. “In our case, myself and a gentleman who is now 77 years old was saved also. Every time we see each other, we embrace each other,” he ends.