Tag Archives: Department of Tourism

The story of Kagitingan: Looking back to the lessons of History in Corregidor

 

For as long as I can remember, I have always been fascinated by war – the heroism, the sacrifice, the toll on the human spirit and the lessons behind it. Often times, I would consume copious amounts of books retelling the various stories of war in the Pacific and even in Europe during the First and Second World Wars — devouring page by page by page. One of my favorites was the novel, “Helmet for my Pillow,” written by the World War II veteran and military historian Robert Leckie. Leckie’s book, along with another favorite, “With the Old Breed: At Peleliu and Okinawa” provided vivid recollections about the war and how it took a toll on the life and spirit of the soldiers fighting for the islands, as well as the many people killed displaced and affected by war.  Both books were later on adapted for the small screen and were used as source material for the immensely successful war series, “The Pacific.”

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The Philippines is not a stranger when it comes to the stories of heroism during the Second World War. All throughout the archipelago, men died fighting for their homeland. While numerous lives were lost — what remains true to this day is the deep sense of patriotism and the lessons learned from the past. Nowhere is this more celebrated than in Corregidor Island.

Both Bataan and Corregidor are legendary in the history of war. Despite relentless attacks by Japanese forces in 1942, and without reinforcements coming from the United States, Filipino and American troops fought back for several months, from January to April of 1942, after being overwhelmed by superior Japanese firepower and troop numbers.

Corregidor suffered heavy bombardment from the Japanese Imperial Army for five months. Until finally, on May 6, the leader of all US and Filipino Allied forces in Asia, Lt. Gen. Jonathan Wainwright, led his men in their surrender to the Japanese. They fought as long and as hard as humanly possible. The surrender resulted in 80,000 Filipino and American troops walking more than 100 kilometers from Bataan to Capas, Tarlac where they were interned at Camp O’Donnell. This was the infamous Bataan Death March where out of  80,000 prisoners of war (POW), only 54,000 made it to camp alive.

Today, attractions like the Pacific War Memorial with its Dome of Peace, and the sculpture, Eternal Flame of Freedom can be found in Corregidor in commemoration of the sacrifices and heroism of those who fought there. There’s also the Pacific War Memorial Museum that houses World War 2 memorabilia.  It is now considered the world’s biggest war museum.

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PACIFIC WAR MEMORIAL. This was built to honor the valor of Filipino and American soldiers who fought side-by-side in WW2, as commemorated through a sculpture showing a Filipino and American soldier. The Philippines and US flags fly behind them, while the Peace Dome can be glimpsed at the back.
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12-INCH (305mm) MORTAR on Battery Way.  This weighs 54 tons and fires a huge shell weighing 1,000 pounds. Battery Way has four 12-inch (305mm) mortars. The original mortars (already destroyed by Japanese bombs) effectively defended Bataan from invading Japanese forces. They pounded the enemy that tried to land on Bataan’s Southwest Coast.

As the Philippines celebrates its heroes –April 7th is Veterans Day, and April 9th is Araw ng Kagitingan or National Heroes’ Day — it is good to remember and revisit Corregidor. It has become synonymous with Filipino and American courage and determination in protecting our freedom.

Walking down history lane is made more engaging in Corregidor via the guided tram tour of the island.  Passing through the Malinta tunnel with lights and sounds show that simulates what it was like during the island’s darkest days during the second world war is something that visitors of the island should not miss.

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MILE LONG BARRACKS.  Measuring 1, 520 feet, This is reportedly the longest military barracks in the world. During the American Commonwealth and before World War 2, this structure housed some 8,000 U.S. troops. These ruins are all that is left after Japanese forces bombarded the area

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MALINTA TUNNEL. This tunnel is 831 feet (253 m) long, 24 feet (7.3 m) wide and 18 feet (5.5 m) high. It served as the residence of Philippines President Manuel L. Quezon and Vice-President Sergio Osmena along with their families after they fled Manila during the Japanese invasion. Quezon, Osmena, and their families were eventually brought to the U.S. along with Gen. Douglas McArthur via submarine. The tunnel also housed soldiers, medical personnel, and civilians left behind while Japanese forces laid siege to Corregidor.

Corregidor Island, which is a popular historical tourist attraction in the Philippines, is currently undergoing more improvements following a 10-month tourism masterplan by Palafox Associates.

Now categorized as an eco-tourism site, Corregidor is managed and operated by the Corregidor Foundation, Inc. (CFI) under its current chairperson and CEO, Ms. Cynthia Carrion.  It is strongly supported for development and marketing by the Tourism Promotions Board (TPB) under the aegis of the Department of Tourism (DOT).

The DOT, TPB and CFI jointly manage Corregidor to remind us not so much of the horrors of war but rather, how high a price we must pay for our freedom and how we must all work to keep the peace.

As an eco-tourism site, Corregidor is not just a repository of history but an island full of fun and excitement.  A fully functional beach resort and campsites are available for families and friends to relive history, relax and unwind. Indeed, history is made more fun in the Philippines!

Like always, April 9 is a Holiday – what could be an even better way to celebrate it by setting foot in one of the places where the men and women before us truly sacrificed for the motherland? Going to Corregidor is easy. Head to the ferry terminal located from the Esplanade Seaside Terminal at the SM Mall of Asia Complex.

For more information, go to www.corregidorisland.com.ph 

 

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Airport Taxi Scam at NAIA3

After an amazing trip to Taipei, we arrived at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 3 sleepy and cranky following a 1AM flight from Taipei. It was almost 4AM and we are tired and badly in need of sleep. Like any enterprising Pinoy, we avoided the line of cabs at the Arrivals area, mainly because they do not use the meters and in the rare instances that they do, it is set too fast which results to almost 3x the normal fare.

Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 3
Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 3

Along with other arriving passengers who apparently had the same idea, we went up the Departures area where metered taxis were known to drop off departing passengers. The first thing that greeted us (and a sign of things to come) was all the doors roped off, with a handwritten “closed” sign taped in the middle. To further emphasize a point, discarded passengers’ chairs was placed on the same area, should someone have an idea to sneak past the rope. All four exits had this, and all the tired and sleepy passengers were asked to head to the last exit at the farthest corner of the terminal.

Desperate to find a cab and finally go home, we headed for the only exit available. Outside was a line of white taxi cabs eagerly engaging the emerging passengers who were all harried looking. Everyone wanted the same thing: it was 4 in the morning and we all just wanted to go home and sleep in our beds.

Because we have been burned before by crooks masquerading as taxi drivers, we asked the guard on duty if the line has metered taxi – the guard said yes. Not satisfied, I asked the taxi driver who was eagerly stuffing our luggage in his trunk if his taxi was metered. Again, he said yes. Satisfied with his answer, we climbed on the back seat and waited for him to open the meter (which, all taxi drivers do before even stepping on the gas). Nothing. So I asked him twice to switch on the meter. On my third try, he finally opened his meter. It was then that we realized that his so-called “meter” is different from the correct meter usually seen on cabs. Instead of the cost of the trip, what was reflected instead were just numbers. Good thing we weren’t that far from the airport doors. We asked him to stop the car, pulled out our luggage and walked back to the taxi stand.

Now that I think about it, I realized that it took him so long to switch on his meter so that we won’t have no choice but to stick with him, since the airport’s drive way is dark and long and we will find it hard to hail another one considering it was 4AM.

Well, he thought wrong. My sister and I walked back to the cab stand and realized that all cabs in line were not metered taxis at all but those who contract passengers depending on their destination. The real metered cabs were out in front and were not allowed to enter the cordoned area where the scammers masquerading as cab drivers were located.

We were lucky to find a real metered cab, who explained that the NAIA 3 does not allow them to fall in life and usually blocks them from reaching the passengers. As soon as they drop off passengers, they were asked to leave the premises immediately. Even if there are passengers who are flagging down. The guards usually point these passengers to the line of white cabs. Our concern was this: what is important to the security people of NAIA – earning extra bucks by conniving with these unscrupulous drivers or ensuring the safety of passengers? We spent so much to promote Manila and the rest of the Philippines to foreign guests so that they will come and visit what our country has to offer but we can’t even provide them a better infrastructure, especially safe and credible transportation from the airport going to the city. The pathetic looking rope with handwritten “closed” signs — the pathetic row of chairs, is this what we want them to see the moment they step off the plane and into our country?

I feel for the Department of Tourism, whose efforts to promote the country and make it appealing to visitors was truly commendable. While DOT is doing its job, the airport management is still as lousy as ever.

When I relayed this information to my friends who also frequently use the NAIA 3 and usually gets their cab from the Departures section, they said that this might be an isolated incident since they didn’t experienced this at all. I learned that all their flights are in the morning and they are usually in the airport by at least late afternoon. It is then that I realized that this scam might be in full effect during late evening to early morning flights when people are few, there are no police presence and passengers are desperate to go home and rest.

No matter the time, I think the airport security should look into this. Not all who use our airports are freaking millionaires who can pay for unmetered cabs and deal with the crap usually given by crooks (masquerading as cab drivers). We were appalled considering that the flight we are in had tons of OFWs and foreigners who all wanted to get out of the airport as soon as possible, and the first experience that they will have is an encounter with scums like these cab drivers.

I realized that this rant will fall into deaf ears. In fact, I even sent a message to DOT as soon as I arrived from Taipei but no one bothered to reply to my message. Maybe because I am not a celebrity or a celebrity blogger, but damn it, I pay my taxes and I deserved to be heard. I am still thinking if I should refer this matter to public affairs programs airing here in Manila while I do not welcome the hassle it will give me (provide a statement, etc.) I kept thinking that if I don’t do anything, the unscrupulous behavior of airport taxis will continue.