Monday, October 20, 2014

70th Anniversary of MacArthur's return to the Philippines

It seems like almost everyone was aware of or was reminded that June 6, 2014, was the 70th Anniversary of D-Day.  We wonder how many of you recall that today, October 20, 2014, is the 70th Anniversary of the return of General Douglas MacArthur and the American forces to the Philippines.

Today we were honored to escort a small group of Americans to Palo, Leyte, for the ceremony which remains dear to Filipinos but for the most part forgotten by Americans.  Our group included two men who were in on the initial landing, as well as the daughter of a man killed on Leyte.  We hope we are wrong, but expect that U.S. media will fail to mention this important event which helped end World War II.
In order to get this to you on the actual anniversary, we threw together a few photos from the events.  We hope to have a much more extensive report of our entire tour in a week or two.
Self-explanatory (and true)

Soldiers awaiting arrival of VIPs

Fay and Virgil (Bub) Simmons, Dwain Bell, and Steve.
Bub and Dwain landed on Leyte on the 20th.  Bub was in demolition and was wounded here.
Dwain was in the engineering corps and helped build a bridge and lay ten miles of road from Dulag northward.

His Excellency, Philippine President Benigno Aquino III, addressing the crowd

U.S. Ambassador to the Philippines, Philip Goldberg, greeting our veterans

 Sally Moege, whose father died ten days after the initial landing, talking to a television reporter; this was her first trip to the Philippines

Ceremonial wreaths

Dwain Bell talking with a man whose father was also in the engineering corps on Leyte

Bub, who is short to begin with, looks even shorter next to the statue of General MacArthur

Filipino Boy Scouts coming ashore with the general and his entourage

Our group being treated to a scrumptious lunch at the Palo Municipal Hall

Our VIPs with Filipino veterans of WWII

Palo Mayor Remidios Petilla and American Chamber of Commerce in the Philippines Executive Director Ebb Hinchcliffe talking with Fay and Bub
More to come later.
Steve and Marcia on the Rock

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Butterflies, birds, and U.S. Marines

The past few weeks have seen beautiful weather, undoubtedly the warmest and driest September we have experienced here.  Certainly not what we think of as “rainy season” weather.
Marcia has photographed more butterflies and birds.  Included are pictures of an arctic warbler, a dollarbird, and a rufous night-heron that are first-timers to the blog.  Every nature photo was taken at Middleside very near our house, except the one labeled as taken at Battery Cheney.
We also had a visit by U.S. Marines who belong to the Special Forces “Recon” branch.  They were very impressed to learn the part the 4th Marines played in defending the island in 1942.
Butterflies on Shanghai Beauty blossoms

 Another Butterfly feeding on Shanghai Beauty blossoms

Butterfly camouflaged on a wall at Battery Cheney

Butterfly in the old butterfly garden

Butterfly on the house: the spots where you see blue are actually brilliant blue in sunlight, but this one insisted on posing in the shade - it would be considered large, except compared to the birdwing species we have see on the island

Not a butterfly, not a bird, but Marcia got this picture of a spider stringing its web along the clothesline attached to a dirty kitchen roof post

Grey-streaked flycatcher hunting from the acacia tree right behind the house

Black-naped oriole

Black-naped oriole seen in flight, defending a nesting site

Brown shrike hunting from a dead tree beside our solar panels

 Arctic warbler, heard frequently in the yard, but so active that it is hard to photograph

Dollarbird: it visited the yard for most of one day, and then appeared briefly the next morning

Rufous night-heron in the shadows of the acacia tree above the reservoir:
we have sometimes heard them call out in the early morning or just after dark, but this is our first sighting of the pair who feed on frogs in the open reservoir cells

Rufous night-heron above the reservoir

Unenhanced photo of clouds lit up over Cavite Province opposite the setting sun

Road to Battery Cheney blocked by fallen tree as a result of July's Typhoon Glenda.  A fair amount of work needs to be done to return the trails to walkable condition

U.S. Recon Marines and Filipino Special Forces members pose 
with Steve (in bright green shirt) at Battery Way

We are only a few days away from hosting another exciting tour.  This year we are anticipating having two WWII veterans with us who were part of the “Leyte Landing,” where General Douglas made good on his “I Shall Return” promise 70 years ago this coming October 20.  Our tour, arranged by Valor Tours of San Francisco in coordination with Rajah Tours here in the Philippines, will be part of the festivities in Leyte.  We have been there three times, including April 2013, and are wondering what we will see following the devastation of Typhoon Yolanda, purportedly the strongest typhoon to ever make landfall over a populated area.  It will be very interesting to see how the resilient people of the Philippines have recovered in less than a year’s time.
Steve and Marcia on the Rock

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Steve and Marcia begin their final months "on the Rock"; pictures from Typhoon Glenda

We are just approaching the beginning of our seventh – and final – year of staying “on the Rock.”  We are hoping to stay through next May 6, which will be the 73rd anniversary of the Fall of Corregidor.  Our long-term plan is to move back to Minnesota.  The reasons are many, and we have discussed them with our family and some of our closest friends.  Until then, we have a schedule with Valor Tours for groups in October, January, February, and April, and look forward to many visitors here on the island.
A strong typhoon named Glenda hit Corregidor while we were in the United States.  From what our friends here tell us, the winds were from the north, then calm, then strong from the south.  This would indicate a direct hit, with the eye passing directly over the island.  Metro Manila, northwest of here, sustained high winds and some areas suffered loss of electrical power for weeks.  Here on Corregidor it was cleaning up fallen trees and branches.  We are told that regular Sun Cruises tourist traffic resumed in a week.
We have included several pictures of the typhoon and its aftermath, taken by our helper, Gilbert Secosana, who is also a professional photographer.

One of the large bancas being thrown about by the heavy winds; fortunately it survived

Glenda's waves rolling into the north sea wall

A particularly impressive photo, just moments after the previous shot

Damage to the building on the end of the Engineering Dock

Damage to the north side sea wall (center); Baywalk store in background

Tree branches strewn about on Bottomside

Damage at Mac's Cafe

More damage at Mac's Cafe

One of many uprooted trees, this one on the South Beach; "kiosk" in background

Damage to the roof of one of the picnic area shelters; zip-line tower in background

Although there was no damage to our house, bodega, or jeep, there were many branches down

"Chainsaw George" (note cloud of exhaust) and others cleaning up near Battery Grubbs

Beneath these fallen branches is the road in front of Milelong Barracks at Topside

Signs damaged at the west entrance to Malinta Tunnel

A tree down and blocking the road on Tailside

Although it is still “rainy season,” we were able to take a walk along the north access road to assess the damage to one of the trails which we so enjoy.  We saw about what we expected: lots of fallen branches and vines, and some downed trees.  We were able to make our way past them along the road, but are concerned that trees could obstruct the many other walking trails.  We anticipate some the trails will require clearing on a larger scale, something that is always the case after rainy season.  We are hoping to work with Sun Cruises to establish walking trails that they can offer their visitors as an alternative to the standard tour, and especially for those people who stay overnight.  Once we are no longer living here, we hope and trust that such trail maintenance will continue.

One of the obstructions on the north access road

Steve and Marcia "still" on the Rock