Monday, March 5, 2012


March 1st, Corregidor Island

Corregidor Island, or referred to by the U.S. Army as Fort Mills, is the largest island at the mouth of Manila Bay in the southwestern part of Luzon. Corregidor has been described as the last fortress to fall during the Japanese occupation in 1942. It was at this site that American and Filipino forces joined together under the command of General Douglas MacArthur to fight against Japanese troops but the fall of neighboring island, Bataan, on April 9, 1942 ended with MacArthur retreating to Australia and the U.S. army surrendering to the Japanese under the command of General Jonathan Wainwright.

The most poignant experience for me was to visit this sight with an older generation of Filipinos (my parents, my uncles Pepe and Angel, and my three ate's Laurita, Carmen, and Lita) who were old enough to witness and experience the Japanese occupation of the Philippine islands during WWII. We took the trolley throughout the island and listened to our tour guide describe how the island was used first during Spanish colonization in 1570, then during the Spanish-American war and U.S. colonization in 1880, then with the Japanese colonization in 1942, and finally, with the combined forces of the American and Filipino armies the island was liberated from the Japanese in February of 1945. It was in 1946 that the island was declared part of the Republic of the Philippines. My parents and Uncle Pepe talked about the atrocities of war and the Japanese infiltration of the other islands, the incessant bombing, as well as oppression under Japanese military rule. They also talked about the brutality of Filipinos at the hands of the Japanese soldiers as well as Korean soldiers . The latter group apparently was even more brutal toward Filipino citizens especially since Korea was also under Japanese rule and its male citizens were conscripted and forced to fight for the Japanese army.

Waiting for our tour boat (seated from the left: Ate Carmen, Uncle Pepe, mom Dolores, dad Hernan, Uncle Angel, and Ate Lita)

View of Bataan Island from Corregidor, site of the infamous Bataan Death March, where 76,000 American and Filipino prisoners marched from Corregidor to Bataan. Roughly 5,000-10,000 Filipino soldiers perished and 600-650 American soldiers perished during this march. My parents talked about the determination of Filipino soldiers to aid American soldiers as they tried to liberate the army. Many Filipinos are fond of General Douglas MacArthur and they still remember his famous phrase, "I shall return," when he was forced to retreat to Australia. Indeed, he returned in 1945 with a daring plan to liberate Corregidor from the Japanese.

An American and Filipino soldier arm in arm, a symbol of brotherhood during the Japanese occupation.

Monica standing in front of the "Bachelor Quarters," appropriately enough.

According to our tour guide, the "Married Soldiers' Quarters" had fireplaces to emulate home. Interesting since the weather was tropical hot and humid.

Standing in front of a map at the museum entrance

For history fans, a cool, wall-sized map of all of the battles in the Pacific starting with the bombing of Pearl Harbor and leading up to the battle in Corregidor

The Peace Monument

Large battery/artillery

Lots of caves and tunnels on the island

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Location:Makati, Manila

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Bohol Province

February 26-29 Bohol Island
We couldn't get any internet service since Bohol Island, so I'm adding some late posts. At present, we're staying in the suburb of Makati, Manila.

Bohol Island - Lots of Spanish influence, mostly Christianity, which is reflected in it's churches. The following photos include our visits to the oldest church on the island, Baclayon Church, a cruise down Loboc River, and a few other photos of the beach, the Tarsier sanctuary, Chocolate Hills, and nipa huts.

Monica and Elliot in Baclayon Church, which was established by the Jesuits in 1602.

Nipa Huts (the traditional hut made of bamboo and a roof of nipa leaves)

Cruise on Loboc River

The Tarsier is not a miniature monkey, as we had wrongly assumed, and it is actually more of a kind of rodent, which traveled over from China. It's difficult to tell from this picture, but it has large, round, beady eyes, claws and a long tail like a rat. It is a primate and it's carnivorous. It is also a nocturnal animal, and it belongs to the endangered species.

Monica thought they were still pretty cute, and she wanted to bring one home with us!

The famous "Chocolate Hills," an unusual geological location in Bohol Island because of the mounds of rolling hills. It is so named because during the dry season the grass-covered hills dry up and become a rich, brown color.

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Location:Visayas Island

Sunday, February 26, 2012

"Dog Show"

I didn't get a chance to describe the event that was happening at Cebu Park yesterday. Although I didn't take any pictures of the event, the park was crowded with people and their dogs, old and a few barely a week old. According to one of the hotel staff, the town mayor loves dogs and have a couple of her own. She decided to dedicate one day to offering free dog services to the residents. Student veterinarians from the neighboring university were hired to work at the event. A few tents were set up with signs that read in English, "Deworming," "Dog Care," and even "Castration." Although we could get a clear view of the inside of the tent, I didn't dare look in especially when I heard some yelping!

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Location:Cebu Park

Cebu Tour

Here are a few photos from our tour of Cebu on Sunday, February 26.

Cebu Park - Memorial of the Blood Pact between Ferdinand Magellan's crew and Filipino King Humabon.

For history buffs - Did you know that Ferdinand Magellan was killed in Cebu by a famous Filipino warrior named Lapu Lapu? Our tour guide, Roland, was quite proud in pointing out that the blood pact between the Spaniards and Filipino tribes failed after the Spaniards repeatedly misused and abused Filipino hospitallity. In spite of the colonial heritage, the Filipinos have survived and transformed their rich heritage into one that combines Filipino, Spanish, and Chinese traditions.

A statue of Lapu Lapu

A sculpture of different scenes depicting the history of Cebu entitled "Discovery of Cebu"

Monica in front of a museum that used to be a residence of a famous Bishop Gogoron. The architecture of the house has much Spanish influence.

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Saturday, February 25, 2012

City of Cebu

The city of Cebu was the first Spanish settlement in the Philippine islands in the 16th century, and was founded by Portuguese explorer, Ferdinand Magellan, who also happened to die at the hands of then King of Cebu, Rajah Humaphon. The city has a population of about 825,000 people, but it is also the center of a metropolitan area that includes three other cities with a total population of about 2 million. It is located on the eastern part of Cebu, right on the water called Cebu Strait. The city is the Philippines' main domestic shipping port. We go on a tour Sunday morning, so there will be more to come.

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Airport Vignette

When we disembarked from the airport we were immediately hit with the warm, humid air. We walked to the baggage terminal and I noticed a group of young men who were assisting travelers with their luggages. It wasn't clear whether they worked for the airport because they didn't wear a uniform. My mother immediately engaged a young man to help us with our luggage. My biggest observation was my mother's interaction with the young men and the others that we met who helped us carry the luggage outside and identify the hotel van, or the driver who drove us. She was talkative and and engaging, and she asked questions about the city or various things along the way. The young men were respectful and polite, referring to my mother as "mom," which I believe is the same thing as "ma'am." There was a deference and respect in the way they addressed her. More amazing was how much I understood when she spoke to them in Tagalog. I would not have been able to utter a single word, but for some reason everything they said was clear to me.

As we left the airport and drove to the resort, along the way we noticed shacks, almost like shanty villages lined up along the two lane road. On each side were small stores, places to eat or to cut your hair but the buildings were rough and many roofs were made of corrugated tin. People were outside selling every kind of item or food. Wooden crates of exotic fruits were displayed outside, and we noticed one young woman who seemed to be grilling something that looked like coconuts that were cut open on a huge grill. There were many people walking or on bikes or small Filipino jeeps (,or.r_gc.r_pw.r_cp.,cf.osb&fp=c62546f6641911c7&biw=1024&bih=672). The kids immediately noted the poverty and the stark contrast of the people and shanties that we left behind and the gated resort where we were staying. Once inside the gate, we drove about a mile up a road that was lined with the local trees, a few that I identified as bamboo. The road opened up to a huge, modern hotel that was situated on what seemed an endless beach.

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Location:Cebu International Airport

Finally Arrived!

Finally arrived to Cebu, Philippines after 24 hours with a layover in Newark, LA, and Hong Kong. Although we were incredibly exhausted - economy seats, oh dear, we were greeted with friendly faces at the Shangri La in Cebu, a lot of sun, and 84 degree weather and humidity.

Location:Cebu, Philippines