Trip Start Jun 06, 2006
78Trip End Aug 22, 2006
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We dragged ourselves out of bed at 5:30. We quickly discovered that Fiona had had a bad night and didn't feel well enough to go. The GI problems were back with a vengeance. I was particularly sad for her because she enjoys history. She has read quite a bit of 20th century history including Stephen Ambrose's excellent books on WWII; books like D-Day and Band of Brothers. Fiona stayed in her room to rest during the day.
As for the rest of us, after a quick but delicious breakfast at 6:00 we were ready to roll at 6:30. We took two taxis to the boat terminal where the Sun Cruises boat to Corregidor docks. We were there by 7:00, and got checked in for the 8:00 departure. At this time of year, the monsoon season, the water can be so rough that such day trips are canceled to avoid having a boatload of nauseous passengers. Though the sky was overcast, and visibility quite limited, the water of Manila Bay was fairly calm.
It took about an hour to reach Corregidor, a polliwog-shaped island sometimes called "the rock" due to its composition and the strength of its fortifications. The boat was not too full, though there was a fairly large group of Japanese tourists present. Upon landing we split into three tour trolleys, two with English-speaking guides and one with a Japanese speaking guide. The tour groups were rather eclectic. The English-speaking contingent included a Muslim family with one woman wearing a burqa, the sack-like covering that some Muslim women wear so that the shape of their bodies will not be visible to men. Only her eyes showed. We thought at first they must have been quite a devout Muslim family. Then later we saw the father and son enjoying several San Miguel pilsners. Apparently they pick and choose in their religion as do a lot of Christians and Jews.
We landed not far from what is left of the Lorcha docks the place from where MacArthur left on the PT boat.
The visit included the Filipino Heroes Memorial, dedicated to the men and women who fought against foreign occupiers (including for a while the USA).
We also visited the site of the Japanese cemetery where several thousand Japanese soldiers were buried (when the Americans retook the island thousands of Japanese soldiers fought to the death or committed suicide - only about 50 out of 7000 or so survived).
From there we visited the Malinta tunnel, which connects the two halves of the island. The tunnel was dug as a fortification.
After the tunnel we stopped at the Corregidor Hotel for a buffet lunch.
The last part of the visit was the Pacific War Memorial near Mile-Long barracks, the largest US barrack in the world at that time. The memorial is built around a sort of round alter on which is inscribed a charged and inspired text: "Sleep, my sons, your duty done, for Freedom's light has come; sleep in the silent depths of the sea or in your bed of hallowed sod; until you hear, at dawn, the low clear reveille of God."
We also saw the old Spanish flagpole nearby. It was originally the mast of a Spanish ship of war captured by Admiral Dewey during the battle of Manila Bay in 1898. When the American army surrendered to the Japanese the American flag was lowered on May 6, 1942. On March 2, 1945 MacArthur was back. He said "I see the old flagpole still stands. Have your troops hoist the colors to its peak, and let no enemy ever haul them down." He obviously had a gift for inspiring words....
We then headed back down to the boat dock for the return trip. The sun had come out and we had a clear view of Bataan across the water as we headed back across the bay to Manila.
We were all dog tired when we reached the hotel. Fiona was feeling a little better, but still didn't want to eat. Richard Pinelli and Lyle Welty had to leave at 3:00 the next morning for their flights back to the States, so they ate early and went to bed. Marjolaine, Tatiana and I joined David Baker and Jeff Caudle for dinner in the hotel restaurant called the Champagne Room. Its ornate decoration is a throwback to the early 1900s and the glory days of the hotel. The cuisine is fine and the service exceptional. David and Jeff were traveling on to Singapore early the next day, so this was our parting meal and we deeply enjoyed the occasion. David, Jeff and I all worked in refugee camps in Thailand at the same time when we were Ambassador College students, and we've remained great friends ever since. It's always a pleasure to spend time with either of them.
Thursday night, Tatiana was sick during the night, possibly from something she ate, but if so it was aggravated by fatigue. I decided we needed to rest before continuing our journey. We had planned to go to Baguio for the Sabbath. There had been landslides because of the typhoon that went through the previous week and roads to Baguio had been cut. Though at least one was repaired and open it would have required a 7-hour road trip to get there, and then to get back again, and I felt the girls just weren't up to it. So I canceled that and decided to take the family for a few days of complete rest over the weekend. David Baker had mentioned a pleasant island a few minutes from Manila by plane. I decided to give it a try, so Friday we headed, earlier than we would have liked, to the airport, where we bought tickets to a little paradise called Boracay Island.
Where I stayed