Monday, March 23, 2009

Boy Scouts clean up Battery Morrison; Our niece Angie

Corregidor will occasionally host a group of campers. This week a Boy Scout troop from Faith Academy in Manila spent a few days camping on the island. Steve happened to run into several of their leaders in the museum one day and introduced himself.

The troop usually performs some form of volunteer service while staying here. This year island manager Ronilo asked Steve to come up with something they could do, such as clearing a trail. After thinking about it Steve decided that Battery Morrison, a six-inch disappearing gun battery on Middleside might benefit the most from their help.

Steve met with Brian, one of the troop leaders, who is also a teacher Faith Academy. They went to see Morrison, which is not far from our house. They decided that this indeed would be a good project for the 25 boys. The next morning the troop got a ride to our house and we walked with them to Morrison.

The area was severely overgrown, a result of neglect which in turn is a result of insufficient funds to keep the area cleared. The grass had grown to a height of several feet. Trees were growing in areas that not only blocked views but also threatened the integrity of the concrete. In one case damage has already occurred. Staircases were jammed with leaves, soil, and criss-crossing vines making it unsafe to walk on them.

Several of the boys had bolo knives, highly effective but equally dangerous if used incorrectly. Brian, the leader at least for this project, began with a prayer, then gave some information about the battery, and finished with a warning that the boys stay eight to ten feet apart to avoid hacking each other.

Soon they were at it, cutting grass, chopping trees, and clearing the steps. Occasionally someone had to be warned to move further away from someone else, but for the most part everyone caught on and there were no injuries.

As is typical this time of year, it was sunny and soon got very hot. The boys are used to the heat, but it was obvious that some of them are more used to working in it than others. One of the scout leaders commented that it was easy to tell which of the boys is expected to work and which ones are used to having someone else do work for them, such as their mothers or servants.

There were four adult men and two adult women from the troop who pitched in. Steve and the women mostly moved the cut grass and tree limbs into a pile away from the battery.

The closest thing to an accident came when Steve stepped into a hole that was well camouflaged by high grass. Fortunately the grass padded his landing and the hole was only about two feet deep. He felt a slight twinge in his left knee for a couple of hours but realizes that it could have been a whole lot worse.

The boys were very polite and most of them were very enthusiastic about helping. On the walk back out of the jungle Marcia had a very good conversation with one of them about WW II. She thought it was great that he and many of the others would hold serious conversations with adults they’d just met, a sign of good upbringing and education.

We look forward to working with the scouts in the future.

When we arrived on Corregidor in October there was only one provider of transportation from Manila. We have mentioned Sun Cruises several times, and Steve occasionally has been asked to guide for them. However, recently two other options have arisen, with possibilities of permanency if they are successful. 7107 Islands Cruises has brought people here on three of the past four Sunday mornings, and Steve has been one of their guides each time.

On Saturday another ferry arrived for a test run, this one from a company called Prestige Cruises. Steve led a tour for several of their new employees, some of whom soon may be new guides. The owner, James “Bugsy” de la Reyes, explained that he had run tours here in 2004 and 2005, and was hoping to have the boat ready to begin regular tours here very soon. Their boat is slower than the ones operated by Sun Cruises, but for some people the time may not be a problem, especially if the price is right.

We think that competition is a good thing and are grateful that there is enough interest in Corregidor to warrant multiple choices to enjoy the island. 7101 Islands has a small, nicely out-fitted cruise ship, and Sun Cruises runs the Corregidor Inn, leasing it from the Corregidor Foundation. We’re not sure if Prestige has plans for overnight guests.

We encourage you to write to us. We assure you that we read every email and try to answer all inquiries. Sometimes our answers may seem short, but please understand that we have very slow internet service, so we have to make the most of our time. But please let us know what you think, send a little news, and if you have a suggestion for a topic we would appreciate that as well.

Also, we once again remind you not to send any large attachments to our normal email addresses, as that just slows and sometimes stops us entirely. We have set up a special email account for longer attachments which we will check at least once a month when we are in Manila and have access to hi-speed internet. If you want to send us pictures that’s fine but please reduce the size to 640x480 like we do in our emails to you. However, for anything over 100kb please use:

Steve and Marcia

For those of you interested in a little personal story, read on.

I want to brag about our niece, Angela Keseley. Angie has been playing ice hockey since she was old enough to stand in skates. I think that she played mostly with boys up until 8th grade. Girl’s hockey was becoming more popular in Minnesota, but Angie went to St. Louis Park in suburban Minneapolis, a small “non-hockey” high school. Nevertheless she put SLP on the map, scoring hundreds of points in her career. Despite being the highest scorer in the state her senior season, the University of Minnesota took her for granted, a mistake she made them regret. She signed with Coach Mark Johnson, MVP of the Miracle on Ice team of 1980, at the University of Wisconsin.

Signing at UW was a big risk. They had never won a conference title, much less gone on to bigger things. That was reserved for Minnesota, who had a very high winning percentage against Wisconsin and was the defending national champ, and other Minnesota schools like UM-Duluth where both of Angie’s parents, including my sister Paula, graduated. The first time she played against Minnesota Angie scored the first goal, and for the past four years UW has owned UM.

Wisconsin went on to win the national championships both Angie’s freshman and sophomore years. They had a rebuilding year last year and still took runner-up to UMD. By the way, UMD had an illegal Russian pro player and may have to forfeit all the wins for games she played in, although she did not play in the championship game. I believe that in any men’s sport Wisconsin would have been declared champion.

Anyway, this year they were ranked number one most of the season, losing only two games all year. They won their first playoff game 7-0, with Angie scoring three goals and adding two assists. In the semifinal they beat UMD 5-1, and although Angie did not score, she was on the ice for each of the goals. I was nervous about the final, a rematch with arch-rival Minnesota, but it never occured, as Mercyhurst buikt an early lead and held on for the upset. Wisconsin then went on to destroy Mercyhurst 5-0, with Angie getting a goal and two assists. I have a tear in my eye for her as I write this.

Angie has no desire to play any more hockey competitively. Her two linemates at UW will be on the Olympic Team, and Mark Johnson will be their coach. Angie is a selfless individual. I’m sure there were times in high school when she was described as a puck hog because she scored so much, but she was just that much better than anyone else on her team. Then in college she got teamed up with players as good as and in some cases better than herself. She could have shot more and scored more, but she wanted to be a team player and often passed when she could have tried to score herself.

Here’s the other thing about Angie. She went to Africa a couple of summers ago with her mother Paula, who works for a charity that raises money for schools in Kenya. Angie met a girl there and now sponsors her education. School was never easy for Angie either, but she has done very well at a tough university, sometimes making the dean’s list. Like I said, Angie is a wonderful woman, and I am very proud of her accomplishments on and off the ice.


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