A token of  friendship & a symbol of unity

There is today a  piece of a concrete wall measuring  3.65 meters by 1.2 meters  and weighing 2.8 tons at the Bonifacio Shrine beside the Manila City  Hall. It  is a part of the old Berlin Wall  donated  by the German  government  to the Philippines in 2014, displayed at the National Museum, and  finally  transferred  to the  Bonifacio  Shrine, where it  was unveiled last Monday,  October 5,  by Mayor Francisco “Isko Moreno” Domagoso  and German Ambassador  Anke  Reiffenstuel.

The piece  of concrete  is part  of the Berlin Wall that used to  separate  Soviet-controlled East Berlin from West Berlin, which was a part of West  Germany  but located  in the middle of Communist  East Germany after the end of World War II.

For  years,  many  Germans living in East Berlin sought  to  cross the border to freedom  in the West, but  were held back by bordee guards  at the Wall.  Refugees  initially made their way through Hungary and Czechoslovakia and  as the number  of  refugees mounted,  East  German officials eased travel restrictions. In November,  1989, refugees  were allowed  to  exit  at crossing points between  East and West Germany and  between  East  and  West Berlin.

East German  border troops   officially began  dismantling the Berlin Wall in June, 1990, continuing until December  and were soon joined by people from both east  and west.  Even foreign visitors, includng some from the Philippines, joined in  breaking down the wall and getting souvenirs.

The  systematic  demolition  removed  184 kilometers of wall, 154 kilometers of border fence,  144 kilometers of signal systems, and 87 kilometers of barrier ditches.  The fall of the Wall on November 9, 1989, was the first critical step towards German reunification which was concluded less than a year later, on October 3, 1990.

In succeeding years, the German  government sent  fragments of the wall to  various countries as tokens  of goodwill.  In 2014, on the 25th anniversary of the dismantling of the wall, the German government sent us Fragment  22 of the old wall’s 40 sections.  This was what  was  officially  installed and inaugurated last Monday by Mayor Domagoso  and German Ambassador Reiffenstuel.

It is a token  of Philippine-German  friendship. It is also a symbol of unity as part of a wall that used to divide Germany.  One   other  nation – Vietnam  – has  also regained  its  unity after years of separation, leaving Korea  as the last one to remain  divided  today.

At  the  Bonifacio Shrine  where  it  is publicly displayed  today,  our piece  of the old Berlin Wall should also be a symbol  of unity for our own country. We may be divided into 7,641 islands,  with so many  ethnic  groups and  faiths,  supportive of  local warring political factions  and of  rival blocs in the world, but we are one Filipino nation and must ever remain so.