We took the Sun Cruiser II to Manila on Wednesday afternoon, but instead of going straight to our hotel, we boarded the Spirit of Manila for a Manila Bay dinner cruise. The boat has an open upper deck as well as a closed, air-conditioned lower deck. Since it was still very hot and humid even late in the day, we opted to stay below, although many of the guests did go topside.
The boat cleared the breakwater and headed south at a leisurely speed toward MoA (the SM Mall of Asia). People who have not been to Manila in recent years would not recognize the bay front; Dewey Boulevard used to run for miles right next to the water. Now Roxas Boulevard – same road, new name – only runs right beside the bay in the area between the U.S. Embassy on the north and the Manila Yacht Club on the south, not much longer than a mile. Now, as you continue south, there is a lot of reclaimed land extending westward into Manila Bay, providing property for many of the nicest hotels, shopping centers, and even the Manila World Trade Center.
We turned around just south of MoA and headed north. About that time we were served our meal, which included chicken in a sauce with which we were unfamiliar, pork kaldereta, rice, corn, and some type of muffin with a sweet cheese topping. Throughout the cruise a young man and woman sang songs. After dinner Steve went on top for a different view. Because of the breeze he didn’t realize just how hot it was until he went back down into the aircon below. The cruise proceeded north until it got near Manila Ocean Park, just short of the Manila Hotel and Pier 15, formerly Pier 7. Then we turned around and headed for the pier. All in all, the cruise took about 75 minutes. We docked just before sunset. Next time we will try to go during the second trip, so that we can experience the sunset while on the water, and also see the buildings at night.
Since we both enjoy being out on the water and the food was good, we’d definitely say we enjoyed ourselves. About the only negative factor had nothing to do with the cruise; it is very difficult to hail a taxi at six o’clock in the evening anywhere near the pier. We had to walk toward our hotel for at least a mile, crossing Roxas Blvd. before finding an available cab. We’re sure that most people who take the dinner cruise would be coming from the city area or be returning from the Corregidor tour, and would have their rides arranged ahead of time. You can see the information online www.corregidorphilippines.com/packages.html.
The reason for our trip to Manila was to sign a book contract with Anvil Publishing. The book has been in the making since 2003. When we met with Karina a few weeks ago, she seemed eager to be able to recommend it to their review board. She told us that the only other book about World War II that they had published was last year’s “Jungle of No Mercy: Memoir of a Japanese Soldier,” by 89 year old Hiroyuki Mizuguchi, a Japanese man who grew up in the Philippines but served in the Japanese Army.
Although we have been calling the book “We Managed to Survive” for the past eight years, we are awaiting their title recommendations. The manuscript will now go into editing, and then we will have to decide which proposed changes should be made and which ones need further discussion. It’s exciting to finally have something happening! Since Anvil is a Philippine publisher, we have a few options for selling the book in the U.S., including finding a second publisher. But one step at a time... It should be available here in time for the yearly book fair in September.
We had to return to Corregidor on Friday morning, since it was May 6, the 69th Anniversary of the Fall of Corregidor, with the surrender of the Philippines to soon follow. Steve’s first such ceremony was in 2002, the 60th Anniversary, with five Corregidor and two Bataan Death March survivors present. We came to Corregidor together in 2003 but there was no formal ceremony. Starting in 2009, the first May after we moved to the island, there has been a ceremony each year. We are expecting that next year, being the 70th, will be the biggest in a while, and are hoping against hope that we can have at least one POW present for the ceremony, as well as many family members and friends of POWs. The problem is that those POWs we know are challenged by health issues, making it difficult or impossible for them to travel such a long distance.
As in the past two years, Steve was the featured speaker. He talked about the significance of that day in history, and also shared some of his father’s love of the island. As you may know, Walter was reluctant to talk about his war experiences with the exception of pre-surrender Corregidor. Speaking of being a POW of the Japanese, he once said, “I wouldn’t take $1,000,000 to go through that for one day!” We have both come to love Corregidor as much as Walter did, if that is possible, and it didn’t take us very long. Everyone who comes here is amazed by what they see, and by how well maintained the island is.
A final note: Walter passed away on Mother’s Day, May 8, 1988. So this Mother’s Day we again remember Walter, who has been gone an incredible 23 years. Walter suffered from the effects of the beriberi he acquired as a POW for the remainder of his life; the pain in his feet never stopped. He always slept with his feet uncovered, he shed his shoes and socks the moment he entered the house, and almost every photograph we have of him shows his bare feet.