Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Lou and the Loppers

The Philippines lie on a major fault line. There have been several times in the past 15 months where we have suspected that we felt very minor tremors, but there is really no way of knowing for sure. However, a week ago Tuesday, we believe that we felt a very brief and mild earthquake a little after 6 o’clock in the afternoon. To Marcia, who was outside at the time, it sounded and felt like something jumped or fell onto the dirty kitchen roof above her, shaking the whole structure. It was similar to having someone jump on the floor in a room above you. Steve was lying in bed using his computer, and for a second it felt as if he were on a waterbed. The next day, a visitor told us that there had in fact been a minor quake reported at that time.

Since Corregidor is susceptible to major quakes – the last one was almost 20 years ago – we wonder just how strong a quake would have to be to inflict substantial damage to the remaining ruins here, especially Middleside Barracks and the many buildings around Topside. The other thing we wonder is whether the quake we felt on Tuesday was in any way related to the one that devastated Haiti around the same time. Since Haiti is on the other side of the world, you wouldn’t think so, but maybe one of our readers knows if this is in fact possible, and could let us know.

The temperatures have been cool enough at night that we’ve actually been a bit chilly in bed. It’s hard to believe that 72 degrees can almost feel cold, but with the high winds, that is indeed the case. It has been so windy for the past two weeks that the Coast Guard has restricted some travel on Manila Bay, especially with the smaller bancas, the double outriggers that are so common here. So far our ability to get supplies from the mainland has been unhindered, but if the winds get any higher that may not continue to be the case. On the other hand, yesterday seemed to be a bit less windy, so maybe it’s finally calming down.

By the way, for those of you thinking of some day coming to Corregidor to spend a part of your vacation, this is a great time of year in our opinion. It is not too hot or humid, seldom rains, there’s almost always a breeze, and it’s a great time to get away from the cold of the Upper Midwestern US and other wintery spots for a bit.

One man who seemed to have fallen in love with the place is Lou Fielack. Lou owns Fielack Electric Corp on Long Island in New York. Lou’s wife Terry grew up in Mariveles, Bataan, which is only five miles off the western shore of Corregidor. They, along with some of Terry’s relatives, came by banca one day last week, and we enjoyed a walk with them on Tailside and the Malinta Hill trail. Lou offered to come back and work for a couple of days.

So this week Lou came back with three of Terry’s brothers, an uncle, and a close family friend. They set up tents on the south beach – a very economical way to stay – and began to work around the MacArthur House on Tailside. If you remember, Benny and the Bolos cleared out that area, which includes the houses used by General Douglas MacArthur, High Commissioner Sayre, and President Manuel Quezon in late 1941 and early ’42. When Benny was done, it was still not possible to see the MacArthur House from the road, so the first thing that “Lou and the Loppers” did was to clear the brush between the house and the road, making it visible from the tranvias used on the day tours. They also excavated a staircase just feet from the main road, and the sidewalk that led to MacArthur’s House. In addition, they cleared out Battery Kysor itself, which is at the tip of Infantry Point. While there, they found many shell casings and bullets, along with assorted buckles and other items that have been buried for at least 67 years. Lou readily agreed to the standing policy that any artifacts uncovered by the group would be given to the Corregidor Foundation for possible display in the Pacific War Museum on Topside.

Soon a road sign will be installed, identifying the three houses as well as the nearby 92nd Philippine Scouts Headquarters. Our hope is that the tour guides will make a brief stop here to explain the significance of these recently excavated buildings to their guests.

We are very grateful to Lou and the Loppers for volunteering their time and efforts to make this possible. This is a wonderful way to contribute to Corregidor, and we encourage any individual or group wanting to participate in a project like this to inquire. Last year a group of Boy Scouts spent a morning clearing Battery Morrison, for example.

For the second time in less than a year, Steve has been chosen to write the cover story for the AmCham Journal, the monthly magazine of the American Chamber of Commerce in the Philippines, Inc. Last March they featured Steve’s story of our climb up Mt. Pinatubo. This year he was asked to write an article about Corregidor for their annual tourism issue. All photos, including the cover, will be Steve’s. As usual, Marcia’s editing was necessary and appreciated. We hope that this article will lead many more people to see The Rock as the exciting tourist attraction that it is.

P.S. Several readers have pointed out that the area in the Philippines known for its spicy hot food is Bicol, not Bohol. We knew that, but had a memory lapse while putting the newsletter together. We apologize for any indigestion this may have caused you. On the other hand, it’s nice to know that some readers paying close attention.

No comments:

Post a Comment