Thursday, June 25, 2009

Last week in the Philippines before going to America

We are about to embark on an eight week trip to the United States. Since the purpose of this newsletter is to talk about Corregidor and the Philippines, we will not be writing anything new. However, many of you have sent us interesting stories which could be passed along. Write to us if you have a story to share and we’ll see if we can use it. Don’t worry about your English skills, we can always do some editing if you wish. Since we have so many new readers, we may send along a few “best of” newsletters as well.

Despite the fact that we do not fly to the United States until tomorrow, we decided to be safe rather than sorry, and headed for Manila a few days early. Rainy season means that Sun Cruises often does not run trips Monday thru Wednesday, and there would be no guarantee that they would run a trip on Thursday because typhoons are in the area and could cause cancellations. (As it turns out there were two trips on Tuesday but no others since Sunday. Today’s was cancelled because of high winds on Manila Bay.)

After arriving in Manila on Sunday, we attended Mass, the first time since Easter. The church is located outdoors, in the middle of the Greenbelt Mall in Makati. The Mass was at 3:00 PM, one of at least a half dozen during the day, and was standing room only. Hundreds of worshippers stood outside the circular chapel as well, listening on the loudspeakers. The priest was obviously American and probably retired, judging by his speech and appearance.

On Monday we went to a bazaar at the Manila World Trade Center, which featured mostly Filipino offerings including furniture, basketry, jewelry, clothing, and much more. There were several stands with quilts, and one with hand-made lace. After lunch we paid a visit to the Corregidor Foundation, Inc. office in the Department of Tourism Building to discuss the projects that “Benny and the Bolos” will be doing while we are away.

Later in the day we visited Collis and Violi Davis at their 19th floor apartment which is just across Roxas (formerly Dewey) Boulevard from Manila Bay. Collis taught media studies for many years at the Ohio State University. He is the co-author with Charles Hubbard of “Corregidor in Peace and War,” a 2006 coffee table book that is filled with pictures and a history of the Rock. It is available at

On Tuesday we met with members of the Philippine Retirement Authority, including General Manager Reynaldo de Leon Lingat, a retired general with the Philippine National Police. Our names came to their attention when they read about us in the Philippine Daily Inquirer. We applied through the PRA to retire here, and acquired our Special Resident Retiree’s Visas last October. They may feature our story in an upcoming newsletter. The PRA website is As we develop more of a relationship with the PRA we will pass on more information, but suffice it say that it is a great opportunity for Americans, and others, who want to retire earlier than they otherwise could, in part because of the relatively low cost of living in the Philippines.

While we were visiting in the GM’s fourth floor office we could see a thunderstorm moving into the city. By the time we were ready to leave it was “raining buckets.” During the short taxi ride, made necessary by the sudden downpour, it actually seemed as if invisible men were throwing buckets of water on the windshield. This was the first line of storms from the anticipated typhoon, Feria or Nangka, which ultimately took a turn westward just before it could have any major effect on Metro Manila.

On Wednesday we went to the SM Mall of Asia and visited with our friend Soma. The MOA is one of the largest malls in the world, but it is not the largest in Metro Manila, having been recently surpassed by another mall owned by the same man, Henry Sy, Sr., a Filipino of Chinese descent who is now one of the richest men in the world. He started with a single shoe store in 1946, turned it into Shoe Mart, and eventually turned that into simply SM, which now could stand for Super Malls.

Today we visited with Jessie Lichauco, age 97. Her granddaughter Sunshine took us to visit her in her home. She invited us for lunch after reading the PDI article about our life on Corregidor. Her beautiful 200-year-old Spanish-era mansion is huge and is on the Pasig River in Manila. The lunch was the most complete and delicious one that we have had in our eight months here – not that we are complaining about other meals – but this one was out of this world for a Thursday afternoon lunch. We were invited back to her house, and since she is such an interesting woman – she knew Gen. MacArthur and his wife Jean among many others – we will write about her in much more detail after our next visit. She is delightful, extremely knowledgeable about Manila history, and “sharp as a tack”. She does not need glasses except to read, of course. However her hearing is not the best and Sunshine thinks she has her persuaded to get hearing aids. We believe and hope she will get many years of use out of them.

Tomorrow morning we will be heading to the airport for our flight to Detroit. The first leg is slightly more than four hours and will take us to Tokyo. After a short layover we will board a 12-hour flight to Detroit. The route will take us north of Alaska and near the North Pole. We will arrive the same day we left, compliments of the International Dateline, with a dose of jetlag to attest to the many hours of travel. Our son Nick plans to meet us.

Our itinerary is not set in stone, but basically it will be broken down into three phases. Sometime early next week we will drive to northern Minnesota to spend the first half of July with Steve’s mother Mary Anne. Included will be the annual 4th of July get-together at Ely Lake at the home of Mary Anne’s late twin brother. The second half of July we will be in the Minneapolis area visiting most of Marcia’s family and attending a family reunion, and spending time with Steve’s sisters’ families as well. The first half of August we will be in mid-Michigan, staying with Nick and family, and anyone else who wants to put up with us for a night or two. We are still thinking about trying to fit in a quick trip to Lake Placid, NY, to see our son Tony.

We have really enjoyed our first eight months in the Philippines, especially Corregidor. The people have been so hospitable, and many of them feel like family. Although we look forward to seeing our family and friends, we also look forward to returning to the Rock.

Hope to see many of you on our return trip,
Steve and Marcia on the Rock

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