When the Philippines think of World War II, we do not think of Poland, D-day, Churchill, or Hitler. Instead, the prominent things that we think of are Hirohito, Yamashita’s Gold, MacArthur, and the Japanese. The memory of Japanese involvement in the war effort is deeply ingrained in our system that to this day, if you’re not speaking to a kid who has adored Naruto or anime since forever, the rest of the people would think of the Japanese as abusers, sexual criminals, and narrow-minded people. They were always different from us and we would never be like them. We are not like them because we’re not the kind of people who can exploit a nation or a region as much as they did. Unlike the rest of the world, however, talking to everyday folks make me feel that the nation has not forgotten the Japanese. I think our nation still has some bitter resentment towards Japan. We somehow cannot forgive them after the war.
Since the war, Japan has made an effort to amend their sins during the war. They have invested money in building companies, roads, Japanese studies departments, and all that jazz in the effort to bridge the chasm that was brought on by the war. One of those projects was a translation project on the classic manga by Keiji Nakazawa, Barefoot Gen, now featured for this month’s Manga Moveable Feast. This translation project was brought on by a group that proudly took the name Project Gen.
I think there’s no better way for me to start this series of posts about Barefoot Gen than posting about the efforts of Project Gen. I will post it first in Tagalog, my native language, the language they used in publishing this manga in the Philippines. In that way, my fellow countrymen could understand the effort that the Japanese made in pushing for this story.
At the same time, I will post a translation in English and I’m not quite sure if this translation is found in the Last Gasp editions, but I hope it is because it has a great message of hope and experience about the war. At least on my end, a great food for thought as we start reading the series.
Ano ba ang Proyektong Gen || What is Project Gen?
Kami ay grupo ng mga Hapones at hindi Hapones na nakatira sa Tokyo at Hilagang Amerika, na nagkaisa na magmalasakit laban sa sandatang nukleyar at sa pag-asang ang Barefoot Gen ay magisisilbing pagmumulan ng kapayapaan sa ibang bansa. Kaming lahat ay boluntaryo, nagbibigay ng oras para maisalin, maisaayos, masagot ang mga sulat, mangalap ng pondo at (sic)
We are a group of Japanese and non-Japanese living in Tokyo and in North America who have united to fight against nuclear war in the hope that Barefoot Gen would serve as a seed of peace in other countries. We are volunteers, giving our time in order to translate, fix, answer letters, gather funds and (sic)
Ang iba sa amin ay mag-aaral, iba’y guro, iba’y nag-aaral ng kulturang Hapon, iba’y nakatalaga sa ibang proyekto tulad ng pagtulong sa mga nabiktima ng kalamidad sa India or sa problema ng minoriya ng Hapo-Korea. Marami din sa amin ay pumunta sa Hiroshima noong ika-32 anibersaryo ng pagbomba noong Agosto, 1977, at nakilahok sa alay-lakad para sa kapayapaan at seminar ukol sa sandata at lakas-nukleyar. Ang Barefoot Gen ay ginawa mula nang makausap naming si Keiji Nakazawa, may-akda, noong Nobyembre, 1976, para maisalin ang Gen sa Inggles.
Some of us are students, some are teachers, some are students of Japanese culture, and some are assigned in projects such as help the victims of calamity and India or in the problem of the minority of Japanese-Koreans. Many of us have also gone to Hiroshima, during the 32nd anniversary of the bombing last August, 1977 and we even joined the fun run for peace and the seminar about weapons and nuclear power. We did Barefoot Gen after having spoken to Keiji Nakazawa, the author, last November 1976, in order to translate Gen in English.
Kami’y naniniwala na ang pagasasabi ng tunay na karanasan ng isang tao tulad ng pagbobomba sa Hiroshima at Nagasaki ay makakatulong upang maiwasan ang isang nakakatakot na likha rin ng tao. At nararamdaman naming na sa ngayon kailangang malaman ng buong mundo ang kasasayan ni Gen, upang hindi natin malimutan ang aral noong nakaraang tatalumpung taon. Ang isyu ngayon ay hindi lamang digmaang nukleyar, kundi mapalawak sa gobyerno at industriya ang paghangad sa kapayapaan ng lakas nukleyar, na isang lakas na kilala nating mapanganib at magbubunga ng pagkalat ng sakit at pagkamatay dahil sa radiyasyon – na hanggang ngayon ay taglay pa rin ng mga nabubuhay sa Hiroshima at Nagasaki.
We believe that by telling the story of one person, like the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, will help avert a horrifying invention made by man himself. And we feel that right now, the whole world should know about Gen’s story so that we won’t forget the lessons we’ve learned in the last 30 years. The issue now is not only nuclear war but also the vast interest of both industries and governments who intend to use nuclear power as tool for peace, a weapon which we know as hazardous and will lead to the spread of disease due to radiation – something that is still felt by the people who live in Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
Kami’y nagpapatuloy sa pagsasalin ng serye ng Gen at may planong ilathala ang ikalawang aklat sa Estados Unidos. Subalit lima pang aklat ang gagawin kaya kailangan naming ng tulog. Pagambag ng pera, oras, at kasanayan ay kailangang-kailangan hanggang ito ay mailathala. Magiging bahagi kayo ng proyekto ng Gen sa pamamagitan nga pagpapakita ng unang aklat na ito sa inyong mga kakilala o kaibigan o kaya’y magbigay ng pagsusuri at pagpupuna.
We are still continuing the translation of Gen and we intend to publish the second book in the United States. However, there are still five more books to do hence we need your help. Donate money, time, and experience because we really need to publish this. You can be a part of Project Gen by showing the first book to people you know or to your friends or even raise criticism.
Sabihin sa amin ang inyong naiisip…
Tell us what you think…
Nais naming malaman mula sa mga mambabasa ng Barefood Gen. Sumulat Lamang at hayaang malaman naming kung ano ang inyong nararamdaman tungkol sa kasaysayan ni Gen, anong masasabi ninyo sa pagsasalin, ano ang magagawa pa naming upang bumuti ang susunod na aklat. Mga sulat mula sa mambabasa, kahit anong edad, ay tatanggapin namin! Sumulat sa Proyektong Gen.
We wish to know more from the readers of Barefoot Gen. Just write and let us known what you feel about Gen’s story. What can you tell us about the translation? What else can we do so that the next book will be better? We will accept the letters from our readers, no matter what age! Write to Project Gen.
c/o Masahiro Oshima
Hoya-shi Tokyo 188 Japan
Another section was written after this explanation and I thought I felt the need to share it with you as well. It was a note to parents and to children and it also has as much heart on the issue.
Para sa mga Bata at Magulang sa Pilipinas | For the Children and Parents in the Philippines
Umaga ng Agosto taon 1945, bumagsak ang bomba atomika sa panahon ng sindak sa kasaysayan ng sangkatauhan. Sa pagsabog nito ay marami ang mga mtatanda at batang nawalan ng buhay. Sa mga nakaligtas, marami ring namatang nang lumaon o may mga bata na naapektuhan ng “radioactivity.”
It was the morning of August 1945 when an atomic bomb shocked the history of the world. In its explosion, a lot of children and elderly died. To those who were saved, many died soon after and children were affected by “radioactivity.”
Si G. Keiji Nakazawa, may-akda ng aklat na ito, aya nasa unang baiting pa lamang ng elementarya ng Hiroshima noong Agosto 6, 1945. Nakita niya ang buhay-impiyerno. Ang Tatay, ate at kuya niya ay manatay sa sunog na likha ng bomba; siya at ang kanya ina ay nakaligtas. Ito ay hindi lamang isang kuwentong kengkoy (cartoon) tungkol sa bombing atomika, kundi isang kuwentong naglalarawan ukol sa sitwasyon ng bansang Hapon at buhay ng mga bata bago at pagkatapos ng Agosto 6, ang kasukdulan ng impiyernong kanyang naligtasan.
Mr. Keiji Nakazawa, the author of this book, was in 1st grade elementary school at Hiroshima on August 6, 1945. He saw life in hell. His father, sister, and brother all died in a fire brought on by the bomb; only he and his mother managed to survive. This isn’t just a funny story (cartoon) about the atomic bomb, but a story that speaks of the situation of Japan, and the lives of children before and after August 6, a hell that they managed to survive.
Ang ibang Hapon ay pinagdidiinan na ang bansang Hapon lamang ang una at nag-iisang bansang binagsakan ng bombing atomika, gayunman ang damdaming ito ay para akitin tayo na kailumat ang kasaysayan na manalasik at pananakop laban sa mga tao sa Asya noong Pangalawang Digmaang Pandaigdig. Sa panahon ng pagsakop ng Hapong military mula 1941 hanggang 1945 ilang milyong Pilipino ang namatay sa pagkagutom at pagkakasakit. Ipinakilala ang aklat na ito sa mga Pilipino para malaman na hindi ang paggamit ng anumang dahas o digmaan ang makalulutas ng gulo sa pagitan ng bansa at tao.
Some Japanese stress that Japan was the only country that experienced the atomic bomb, however this feeling forces us to forget history and overlook the casualties against the people of Asia during the Second World War. During the occupation of the Japanese military from 1941 to 1945, millions of Filipinos died due to hunger and sickness. This book was shown to the Filipinos so that they would know that it isn’t the use of violence or war that will solve differences between countries and people.
Sa pamamagitan ng aklat na ito ay mararamdaman ninyo kung paano mangwasak ang digmaan, magsakripisyo nang marami tao, lalo na sa mga walang malay na mga bata at sanggol. Hindi natin malilimutan ang mga biktima nito tulad ni Gen at mga kapatid niya at hindi lamang ang bansang Hapon pati na rin ang lahat ng parte ng daigdig kung magsisimula ang digmaan.
Through this book, we hope you could feel how war can destroy lives and the sacrifice people made, especially those by children and infants. We won’t forget victims like Gen and his sibling and how it won’t be just the Japanese but the rest of the world (will be affected) if a war begins.
Ito ay isang malungkot na kasaysayan, ngunit may isa na may tibay ng loob tulad ni Gen, ipinakita niya ang isang paghihirap matapos ang iba. Biro mo ikaw o ang iyong anak ay tulad ni Gen na lumaban para mabuhay at humarap sa kamatayan.
This is one sad history, however one that has the same strength as Gen, who has shown one misery after another. Imagine if it were you, or your child who was like Gen who fought to live and face death.
Si Gen ay nagasasabi tungkol sa buhay ng mga bata dito sa daigdig. Naniniwala ako na makahahanap sila ng bagong mithi at tibay ng loob para maging mapayapa ang ating daigdig.
Gen speaks of the lives of children in this world. We believe that they will find new hope and strength in order for our world to be peaceful.
Patnubayan nawa tayo ng Panginoon at managumpay o mangibabaw nawa ang kapayapaan at katahimikan ng buong mundo!
May the Lord bless us and may peace and quiet win and reign over the whole world!
PROYEKTONG GEN PHILIPPINES
Feb. 5, 1990 ((Nakazawa, Keiji. Barefoot Gen. Translated by Project Gen. New York: Project Gen, 1976))
This copy in Tagalog is the only copy our university has of Barefoot Gen in our local language. Looking through our history, this is the first manga ever translated in Tagalog. While the message was written in 1990, the book was published in New York by a guy named Jim Peck back in 1976. No other details are said in this book beyond that of Masahiro Oshima’s name, his address, and Project Gen.
We don’t know much about Project Gen, what happened to them, and where they are. One thing’s for sure, they were a group who was passionate about their intention to stop the Cold War and the nuclear race and they wished to use the story of Barefoot Gen as an example on where this nuclear war can lead to.
That said, I’m quite sure that at least in the Philippines, this story was hardly heard. Our library has owned this edition since 1991 but only 11 people have borrowed it from our bookshelf. Their hopes of finishing all the volumes only ended with two in Tagalog. I’ve asked our professors if they’ve heard anything about it but sadly, the project seems to be a mystery.
I’d probably go further on my thoughts on this series itself as I read through these volumes in the next few days. I just thought that it might be great to actually share to everyone in this MMF that at least in our country, Barefoot Gen was born with an agenda against war. The first manga in our language had hoped for peace.