Monday, January 11, 2016

January 12th and 23rd, 1949- "White Russians" Refugees arrived In the Philippines!

‘GIVE ME YOUR HUDDLED MASSES YEARNING TO BREATHE’ ‘White Russians’ disembark on Tubabao Island from their rusty ship after a journey that took them from Bolshevik Russia to Maoist China and finally to the Philippines, the only country willing to shelter them in 1948. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

White Russians arrived in January 1949, 49 of them (the “advance echelon”) by air on the 12th, and 492 by sea on the 23rd, on board  S.S. Hwa Lien. Around a total of 6,000 anti-communist so-called White Russian refugees were welcomed into the Philippines shores in 1949. After fleeing Russia for China, they again had to seek refuge when the Maoist revolutionary army was about to take over Shanghai. Of all the countries in the world, only the Philippines accepted them.

TEMPORARY HOME. The so-called White Russian refugees made Guiuan, Eastern Samar their home for two to 3 years. Photo by the Museum of Russian Culture, San Francisco, USA
After a grueling odyssey from Shanghai, the White Russians found a temporary home in Guiuan.  As refugees poured in, the practically uninhabited island of Tubabao was transformed into what was known as Russian Refugee Camp.   It was divided into 14 districts, each district taking care of its own needs.  Eventually, electricity, hospital, sanatorium, supply office, cemetery and churches of every denomination were set up.  After almost three years of refuge in the island and of waiting for immigration officers, they were eventually admitted to France, Chile and other South American countries, the United States and Australia, but the great majority was finally settled in the U.S. 

However unpleasant may have been their life in the island, especially for the elderly, the White Russians were freed from the power of Josef Stalin and Mao Tse-Tung.  Obviously, their plight was better than of those who chose to remain in China , for whom life in the 1950s was almost intolerable.

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