Monday, April 25, 2011

Conquering Corregidor Island 3: Bottomside

From the name itself, Bottomside is the lower portion of Corregidor Island. A barrio named San Jose once existed there. Most of the docks I think that are currently used for the visiting tourists are found there also. North Dock and the South Dock are two in which I have become quite familiar with.

South Dock

South Dock, from the name itself, faces the south. From this dock, one gets a good view of the neighboring Caballo Island. Found there also is the The Rock Beach Club. It was also on the South Dock that we had our lunch, under the dancing leaves and flying dust. There was once a Chinese market there but only the ruins of the place remains. The view, the silence, the ambiance compels one to just rest, relax, and reflect. It’s really a place of utter enjoyment. But still, I am always reminded that the place was once flooded with blood and the dead. Also, it was there on the South Dock that we boarded the ferry back to Manila Bay when we had our first visit to the island.

* a working pier on the South Dock built over the ruins of the old one, probably the one used during the War

* a view of the pier on the South Dock on the other side
* portion of the Malinta Hill as seen from the South Dock

* Caballo Island as seen from the South Dock

* human intervention worked its way even on the shores of Corregidor Island as can be seen on the shore on South Dock
* a marker found on South Dock commemorating the Beach Cleanup which happened on November 23, 2002
* another marker on the South Dock; I forgot to take note of the details on the plaque
* Trailer Pransis posing with our tour guide Mr. Pol Curato;
taken during the lunch break at the South Dock

Between South Dock and the North Dock is a simple marker for Gen. Jonathan Wainwright who came down in history as the one who surrendered the island to the Japanese. Also found here is the Corregidor Inn and a chapel called San Jose Chapel. Our tour guide urged us to step down our tranvia and pray inside the chapel. I contented myself with taking pictures of the place. Further down, I saw the place where we ate our lunch on my first visit (and played billiards, of all places).

* a marker dedicated to Gen. Jonathan Wainwright

* the place marks the site where a Spanish church used to stand

* a remaining design found on the ground where a Spanish church once stood

* the San Jose Chapel
* some of the chapel’s details

* I got curious on that stone structure jutting out of a side of Malinta Hill
* view of Malinta Hill from the San Jose Chapel
* a line of trees from the Lorcha Dock; on the far side is the San Jose Chapel

* the Lorcha Dock; part of Bataan can be seen on the background

* Trailer Pransis posing beside a gun on North Dock

* while waiting to board the ferry; another blissful history day

North Dock

When we did our revisit North Dock is a busy place being the site for disembarking the tourists. From the map I obtained, the Engineer Dock is just nearby. A short walk from the North Dock will bring you a place called Lorcha Dock. It was there where Gen. Douglas MacArthur bade goodbye to the soldiers in Corregidor to head to Australia. A big statue of MacArthur is erected on the beach.

Towering over the Bottomside is the Mainta Hill which proved to be an important instrument for the American and Filipino soldiers fighting during the Second World War. That would be next in this Corregidor series.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Conquering Corregidor Island 2: Middleside

Corregidor Island is “divided” into four different sections or sectors namely: Topside, Middleside, Bottomside, and Tailside. Each section contains different structures that would tell the visitors many details about Corregidor’s past.

* a far view of the YMCA ruins; the open ground on the foreground is a campsite

* a wall in ruins – part of the Middleside Barracks

* Trailer Pransis striking a serious pose

* view of three-storey structure of the Middleside Barracks;
what we see here are actually the rear part of the barracks

* the curve seen on top of the wall on the far side of the photo could signify the main entrance of the Middleside Barracks

The Middleside part for me is only a transient part, functioning only to make the distinction between the Topside (which contains most of the batteries installed on the island) and the Bottomside (where most of the docks are found). But beside that, the Middleside is still a treasure for there we can find one of the frequently visited barracks – the Middleside Barracks. Spanning several meters, the Middleside Barracks are three-storey buildings. The barracks once housed the members of the 60th Coastal Artillery Regiment. Further up, one can find the hospital which is also a three-storey structure.

* a first look at the hospital in Middleside

* a closer view of the hospital which is also a three-story structure

Containing the bulk of the structures installed in Corregidor is found on the Topside. That would be next in this Corregidor series.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Conquering Corregidor Island 1

* a map of Corregidor Island showing its key places: structures, museums, as well as the locations of the batteries installed there, etc.
* the ferry that brought us to Corregidor Island
* a first view of the land that is Corregidor

* northward while in transit, one can see the beautiful Bataan Peninsula;
Mount Samat is partially concealed by the clouds

* landing point: a first look at an old structure - the island's power plant;
taken at the South Dock

Corregidor Island is one of the few islands in the Philippines I have visited so far which is not easily associated with leisure or beach resorts. Its historical background proves to be a stronger package of description for this island. My revisit to the island is a fortunate one for my first trip was not that as informative as this second one – the first one were lost in the busy-ness of running to catch the tranvia and in keeping up with local relation which was supposed to be the highlight of the visit. I can say that this revisit enabled me to appreciate more Corregidor. But I still say that a one-week stay in the island would help me to know more the island. Well, perhaps in the near future I can do that.

The trip was sponsored by our school, but the actual tour is managed by Sun Cruises. Different tour packages are available and the tour we had differed from my first visit in terms of some places visited and the lunch. This time, the food was included in the package.

As to the island, it is located at the entrance (or mouth) of Manila Bay. Its location tends to confuse a first observer; as it seems to be closer to the shores of Bataan one would think that it is part of Bataan. Corregidor Island is actually part of the province of Cavite. And that is one fact that a visitor should learn from the trip.

Corregidor is curiously shaped like a tadpole (some playful minds have thought of something else) and is joined by smaller islands like Caballo, Carabao, and El Fraile Islands.

Its name (literally “to correct”) describes the island’s original function: to warn the people in Manila of any possible hostile ships arriving or to check necessary paper of the ships entering Manila Bay.

* our dear tour guide, Mr. Pol Curato

* entering the War Memorial Zone

* just as we were starting the tour, we saw this beautiful sight: our ferry going back to Manila Bay to fetch the next batch of tourists
* a far view of one of the islands’ water reservoir during the War; if I remember it right, there were three water reservoirs at that time, some of them were destroyed, making life more difficult for the fighting soldiers

Our Tour Guide

Tour guides are always fascinating people. Besides employment, I think one needs a heart and passion for what you are talking about. This trait I found in Mr. Pol Curato, our elder guide who seems to have a treasure chest of information about World War II and Corregidor Island. I could have said to him that World War II is close to me, having written a short article about it. Perhaps the general interest of my fellow visitors to the sights and not the historical backgrounds dampened his enthusiasm to really share more of the details of the places that we visited.

There was one thing that he said though that I feel is quite debatable. It concerns his affinity to the invasion of the Japanese, opining that we could have been better off under the Japanese. His argument sounds good but it still falls within the bounds of speculation. Nevertheless, I found him an engaging person, ready to answer any question, however naïve they might be. This may be just an after-thought, but I think it is good to have a heart of tour guide in every one of us.

More on our Corregidor Island tour on next entries.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Via Crucis at Colegio de San Juan de Letran Calamba

* an image of Jesus Christ on the fourteenth (XIV) station of the Via Crucis

Reading through online articles, Via Crucis is actually the Latin term of Way of the Cross, referred in other instances as Via Dolorosa or Stations of the Cross. In my travel escapades what I encountered more often is the term Stations of the Cross.

* the participants in the Via Crucis

* the prayers for the last station was held at St. Albert the Great Chapel

My interest in these names came about when I attended a Via Crucis in the school where I am working. The activity is actually a devotion commemorating the final hours of Jesus Christ – from his condemnation to death to his burial. In the Via Crucis, stations are marked in different places. For each station a verse from the Bible is read along with some reflection messages. From the booklet provided to us, Via Crucis can be done anywhere, regardless of the number of participants. One can do it alone if he or she wants to. Seeing these Holy Week-related activities, it seems that such religious events are quite elaborate and require huge amount of focus for reflections.

Palm Sunday in San Pablo Cathedral | San Pablo City, Laguna

My first immersion in the activity they call Palm Sunday was in Lipa City, Batangas. But it was not really participation; it was more of observation as we witnessed the people of Lipa raise their palapas and wave them above their heads. The Palm Sunday that year was characterized by the same festive mood I have earlier ascribed to the church in Bay, Laguna.

* the priest in a ceremony on Palm Sunday on the patio of San Pablo Cathedral

* the raised palaspas

* palaspas in the afternoon

* getting ready for blessing

It came in the form of luck when I was able to catch the same ceremony (when the priest/s bless/es the palm leaves) in San Pablo City, Laguna at Saint Paul the Fist Hermit Cathedral. But unlike in Lipa where we only stood on the sidelines, I found myself in the midst of the ceremony. I only came near the priest to take some photos but when I turned around to go, the devotees had already occupied most of the open space, leaving me with no place to exit.

* the leaves as they were being showered with holy water

* a Sacred Heart statue on the grounds of San Pablo Cathedral

* a virgin on the outside grounds of San Pablo Cathedral

* palaspas being sold outside the church fence along with some rice delicacies

There I was, joining the palaspas-bearing people and getting showered with holy water. It was good in the sense that I was able to experience one of the religious activities the Filipinos inherited from the Spaniards. People still have until Easter Sunday to do their religious activities, or head to beaches or climb mountains. For travelers, four or five days of free time are already a big package for traveling and discovering places and people.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Palm Sunday in Bay, Laguna Church

* a revisit – the façade of the Bay Church, its patron saint is Saint Augustine

* a statue of Mary found on the church grounds; on the background is the church’s bell tower

* the devout attending mass on Palm Sunday

* an angel holding the clam-shaped object (a taclobo?) for the agua bendita

The Holy Week has officially begun with the festive mood of Palm Sunday. There is no other way to see how strong the religious traditions are regarding the Holy Week except to visit the Catholics’ places of worship. The church of Bay, Laguna was the most likely choice for a Palm Sunday visit, being just a few kilometers away from where we currently stay.

Unfortunately, the mass was just starting. We could not stay longer as we still had to travel south. Thus, we contented ourselves in roaming the grounds – looking up again the huge buttresses of the church, visiting the side chapel, observing people’s activities, among other.

* some of the figures found inside and outside the church

* religious items sold around the church;
abanicos of course are not out place given the summer heat

* the day of the palms – palaspas or palm leaves being sold outside the church

* an eye-catching stained glass design on top of one of the church’s side doors

I earlier mentioned about the festive mood. This is my description as it felt like I am in the midst of a fiesta – balloons and toys for sale, fans, food, etc. One thing that would remind you that it is Palm Sunday was the palaspas laid along the church fence and along the pathway leading to the church.

What I missed seeing in the celebration of Palm Sunday in Bay was fulfilled in San Pablo City, which I will be sharing next.