On Monday we woke up to see a beautiful bird in our backyard. Not only are many birds here beautiful, they are also extremely shy, and require luck and patience to get a good picture. Included is the best one we have taken so far. We hope you enjoy it, and that someone can help us identify it. Gilbert and Armand said that they had never seen one before, but Greg said he has seen that type near Battery Way.
We also took a walk along the north side of the “tail” of the island. We specifically walked where the Japanese invading beach forces landed on the evening of May 5, 1942, forcing surrender 12 hours later. The beach, as you can see from the pictures, is rocky, making it difficult to walk along. You must be careful to not trip or slip. The morning started out beautifully clear, got cloudy by the end of the walk, with sunshine returning before lunch.
We had to descend a fairly steep trail to get to the beach. After we walked as far as we wanted to, we tried to take a short cut through deep grass back up the hill. This turned out to be a mistake. Although it looked like it might save us time, we were forced to turn around once we emerged from the deep grass and all of a sudden were about to enter a thorny area. So we returned the way we came, not all bad, since the scenery in the reverse direction kept us looking at the Bataan peninsula, which is quite picturesque.
Sunday night may have been the end of the month long basketball tournament. We say may have been, because the ending was sadly controversial. It all boiled down to a two of three between the top two teams. The Aces won on Saturday. On Sunday a Baywalk player drove through the lane and heavy traffic and made a layup that may or may not have been shot before the clock expired, the score having been tied. There was a lot of shouting from the Aces coach and players but the basket was deemed good, giving Baywalk the game and tying the series at one to one. Today the story is that Baywalk is refusing to play game three, forfeiting the championship. We hope that cooler heads will prevail and the deciding game can yet be played.
Up until that play, the tournament was a lot of fun to watch. There were some runaways, but enough close games to keep it interesting. We went to a lot of the games to show our support, and even sponsored a free throw competition last night. As we’ve said before, they love their basketball here. A few of the players are quite skilled in ball handling and shooting. It’s just that they are so short that they would stand no chance in America, where many 8th graders would tower over most of them.
The court is a rough hard surface, and also can be used for tennis. The ball is a worn out rubber basketball. Since games are played after work, they start in the daylight and end after the sun goes down. The court is surrounded by a hodgepodge of lights, some incandescent, some the sodium type, and some fluorescents. Some of them go on and off at random during the game. Most games have been interrupted briefly when the lights go out entirely. Since the island is run on generators, the lights only come on after someone throws the switch, and that can be anywhere from half an hour before sunset to after dark. Many peoples’ homes are powered by the same generator, by the way, meaning that their refrigerators are only running at night, making it difficult to store foods.
Another curiosity is the attitude toward smoking. Cigarettes are very cheap here, and we suspect that a lot more people in America would still be smoking at 60 cents a pack. Each pack contains a warning that takes up half of one side, saying smoking can kill you. It’s normal to see players not currently in the game smoking off the court. Even the announcer, who calls play by play on a bullhorn, the scorekeeper, and anyone else sitting at the center table, may be smoking at the side of the court.
Ronilo, the island manager, left for Manila yesterday to spend the evening with his brother. He took the normal Sun Cruises boat, which typically runs every day between Manila and Corregidor if there are enough paying passengers and the seas are safe. We’re wondering if he will make it back today, since we heard last night that Typhoon Ulysses is bearing down on the area.
We have yet to experience a typhoon, although one tropical depression brought quite a bit of clouds and rain here soon after we moved in. The annual Corregidor Christmas party is scheduled for tomorrow, but there is talk of postponing it because of the storm. Since we don’t have internet at the house, and only slow speed internet elsewhere, we have to rely on word of mouth for this kind of information. We kind of miss “weather.com” with their up to the minute radar, but with Coast Guard on the island the information is pretty fresh.
This time of year the storms can be violent, but shouldn’t last too terribly long. Gilbert and Armand were talking last night of a storm a few years ago that basically lasted three weeks, and some people were eating grass to stay fed. We have our own food supply that will be good for at least a few days in an emergency, but again, December storms are generally short-lived. It may mean a short time without cell phone or internet service, but the communication around the island is two-way radio as well as “grapevine,” so we will be well cared for.