Wednesday, May 6, was the 67th anniversary of the fall of Corregidor. There was a small ceremony at Topside to commemorate the event. For whatever reason Sun Cruises failed to bring their guests to this once-a-year short noon-time ritual, and if not for the 11 guests with Edna Binkowski it would have been a non-event. However, one of her tourists, Richard King, was the son of a Corregidor survivor.
Colonel Artemio Matibag asked Richard and Steve to present two wreaths, and to talk about their fathers for the small audience. Richard talked about how his father had first been at Battery Geary and then was at Ft. Drum (the “Concrete Battleship”) during the actual invasion. Steve talked about his father being at Battery Way, but emphasized two things. One, if not for the men holding out on Bataan and Corregidor Japan might have taken Australia, with the possible outcome that America might have conceded the Pacific theatre to Japan. Two, that seven years ago we had seven veterans present, and this year none, meaning that it was now up to the survivors to keep their fathers’ memories alive.
After the ceremony Steve met a man who said, “Did you hear the story about the two brothers at Cabanatuan?” Steve said yes, he was aware of it. The man introduced himself as John Betts, and said that his father was the older brother. At this a tingle ran up Steve’s spine as he remembered his father’s words.
“… they had what they called a numbered system, where say I was in a group of one to ten, and there was another group from 11 to 20 and so on. If any one of those prisoners escaped they would kill the other ones, whoever was left in the squad of ten. And it did happen too.
“There was one squad where somebody escaped so they were going to shoot the others and it just happened that there were two brothers, one was in this squad and he happened to be the younger of the two brothers. The older brother offered to take his place! Can you imagine that? Isn’t that something? And be shot in place of his younger brother! But the answer was no, so they shot the other nine, and of course that ended the running away.” – Excerpt from “We Managed to Survive”, which we hope will soon be published.
Later in the day Steve was asked to lead a private tour for a couple of dignitaries arriving at Topside by helicopter. They were the Governor of Bataan, the Honorable Enrique Garcia, known as “Gov Tet,” along with The Honorable Michael W. Cruz, MD, the Lieutenant Governor of Guam, and also Michael’s wife Jennifer. Michael’s father is Filipino. His mother is a native of Guam, as is Jennifer.
The tour had to be very short due to a typhoon which was heading into the area, but it gave Steve enough time to show them a few of the main attractions, including the “Light and Sound Show” in the famous Malinta Tunnel. All three guests were very friendly, with Gov Tet inviting Steve and Marcia to visit him any time in his office in Balanga, where his son is mayor. Michael surprised Steve by telling him that he did his five-year surgical residency at the University of Michigan, and ever referred to Lansing’s Sparrow Hospital where he’d spent some time before his graduation in 1989.
Speaking of typhoons, the first one of the season moved into our area late Wednesday. Rainy season is “scheduled” to arrive mid-May to early June, but it seems to have appeared this year in late April. As they say, when it rains it pours. Typhoons are the Pacific Ocean’s equivalent of Hurricanes. We were only on the edge of this one, with the eye west of here and heading to the northeast. One of the biggest problems associated with typhoons here is mudslides, which kill hundreds of people each year.
Steve got his first taste of typhoon rains in 2007 when he was leading a private tour. They were at the Capas National Shrine (Camp O’Donnell) at the time, looking at the names of the American soldiers who died there. Off in the distance they could here the rain approaching, sounding almost like a stampede was on the way. They ran for the car and just made it. It was raining so hard that even though the driver drove up to the Philippine memorial, it was impossible to see even the very short distance to the obelisk.
You don’t usually think much of the effect of hurricanes in Michigan, being so far from the ocean, but in reality many times the remnants of hurricanes – including Katrina – came inland and dumped a lot of water there. Now we are living in an area where eventually we are going to experience the full brunt of a tropical storm. The longest one in recent memory lasted for three weeks. So we have our storeroom well stocked just in case. Our house is surrounded by trees and we are assured that the winds near the house will not be nearly as severe as if we were near the shoreline, less than a mile in any direction.
Wind blew over a young malunggay tree in our back yard. Malunggay leaves are used in soups and for medicinal purposes. We heard several branches come crashing down in our back woods. Other than that, so far we have sustained no damage.
On Thursday night we decided to go to the row houses to eat dinner, since the rain had lessened. As luck would have it, the rain got heavier and heavier as we were sitting outside in their dirty kitchen. Finally we made a dash for the jeep during a lull, only to have it start right up with a vengeance the second we got outside. We drove home soaked only to get wetter, if that is possible, while running to the house. If it had been cold we would have been chilled to the bone, but it was like taking a warm shower with our clothes on.
Steve and Marcia
P.S. We have received several interesting comments on the cockfights which we will use in an upcoming newsletter. If you have a comment or interesting story about cockfighting, send it on to us in the next few days.