Visiting Filipino Scholar Rediscovers Hoover’s Archival Sources On Japanese Presence In Prewar Davao

Monday, December 17, 2018
Anderson Villa

The archival materials and documentary sources at the Hoover Library & Archives were brilliantly enriching as they provided a platform for my independent research for “A Reexamination of the Japanese Migrant Settlement of Davao in the Interwar Period through Images and Text: A Colonial Discourse Analysis.” This study re-examines the historical context of Japan’s migration settlement of the Philippines, particularly in the Davao region of Mindanao (Philippine South) during the interwar years of the 1920s and 1930s. This research attempts to address the crosscutting issue of the settlement of Japanese migrants in Davao, otherwise known as Davao-kuo or “Little Japan.” Through a trans-Japan and colonial discourse, the study focuses on how the Filipinos and the Americans interrogate the “Japanese colony” in Davao during the US occupation of the Philippines.

The Hoover Library & Archives is just what I needed to pursue this research. I found incredibly significant archival sources that exceedingly expanded the depth of my study. The Japanese diaspora collection and the Japanese modern history manuscript collection offer fresh insights on the expansionist policy of Japan over the South Seas and how this juxtaposes the seemingly problematic settlement of Davao in the Philippines. Materials about Nihon Yusen and other documents on pre-World War II, including text, images, maps, and brochures, vividly captured the thriving Japanese agricultural industries and shipping routes to Davao and elsewhere in Asia. The multi-volume “Glimpses of East Asia” published by the Nippon Yusen Kaisha (N.Y.K.) from the 1930s to the 1940s were also thought-provoking in understanding the political economy behind the settlement of Davao and how this interrelates to the broader context of Japanese emigration to the South Pacific Islands, Central and South America, and immigration to North America such as in California, as well as in Hawaii.

What made my visit at Hoover Institution more fruitful was the on-campus access to the digitized newspaper sources of the Hoji Shinbun Digital Collection. Along with other Japanese American newspapers, published both in English and Japanese, such as Hawaii Hōchi, Rafu Shinpō, and Hokubei Jiji, which covered Japanese presence in Davao during the interwar years, the microfilm on Dabao Shimbun (Davao, 1943-1944) and hard copies of the wartime era newspaper named Davao Times (1944) were all terrific finds. In fact, Davao Times contains articles written in Cebuano/Visayan language. These sources help me retrospectively validate historical claims, local narratives, and other interrelated discourses.

I am immensely indebted to Dr. Kay Ueda of the Hoover Institution for her kind assistance in looking for sources related to Davao. Words cannot fully express my warm appreciation for her patience in translating to English selected articles of Japanese and Okinawan newspapers such as Jitsugyō no Hawaii, Nippu Jiji, Dabao Shimbun, among others. Coming to Stanford was extraordinarily providential – one of those things I considered an impossible dream in my academic career life. Surprisingly, I made it here as visiting fellow, and I could not have done it without the full support of all the people at the institution. Indeed, Hoover Institution is a must for visiting researchers, scholars, and fellows working on war, revolution, and peace. 

Anderson Villa
Anderson Villa PhD

Visiting Scholar

Anderson Villa, a Visiting Scholar at the Hoover Institution, earned his Ph.D. in Asia Pacific Studies from the Ritsumeikan Asia Pacific University, Beppu, Oita-ken, Japan. He is currently Associate Professor of the International Studies Department at the Ateneo de Davao University in the Philippines. He co-authored the book, “Mindanao Muslim History: Documentary Sources from the Advent of Islam to the 1800s,” and his recent work on Filipino migrants in Japan appears at the Asia Research Institute (ARI Working Paper Series) of the National University of Singapore. He heads the Migration and Diaspora Studies of the Ateneo Center for Politics and International Affairs (CPIA).