The 2011 Corregidor Basketball League Tournament got underway this week. As is traditional, the teams lined up at the administration building and paraded to the basketball court. Then they were introduced in their new uniforms, some of which were not delivered until an hour before opening ceremonies. Another tradition is the team “muse.” Each team has a young lady in her ladies’ style uniform, and the muses perform individually for the audience. One muse presented an a capella vocal number, two did solo dances, and two performed partnered dances.
Then it was time for the ceremonial opening toss. Steve, the CBL commissioner – i.e., the one who raises the money to fund the tournament – was at center court with inn manager Ed, island manager Ron, and the captions of the first-game teams. By luck of the draw, the opening game pitted Battery Way, captained by our helper Roy, and Battery Geary, led by the 2008 tournament’s MVP Jerry. By the way, many Filipinos pronounce Geary more like JEER-ee, so that is why Jerry decided to go with Battery Geary for his team name.
The opening game was probably the most exciting of the first week, with Battery Way edging Battery Geary in “The Battle of Mortars” 60-58. Because it was opening day the players had asked to schedule two games, and in the second, Battery Grubbs beat Battery Crockett in “The Battle of Disappearing Guns” by 53-47. Steve worked out a five-team schedule so that no team would have to play two consecutive days if only one game per day was played. However, because of the two games held on opening day, Battery Way had to play again on day two, facing Battery Hearn – the lone “Long Gun.” On top of being scheduled on consecutive days, only five of their players were suited up at game time, versus all eleven players for Battery Hearn. This was partly due to men who had previously scheduled vacation and were off-island, an unavoidable challenge for every team. Battery Way fell behind early, with a sixth teammate not arriving until the 4th quarter. Battery Hearn won 70-62.
On the third evening, Battery Geary defeated Battery Crockett 64-52. On the next night, completing the first week’s schedule, Battery Grubbs beat Battery Hearn 68-54, having gained a 21-4 lead early in the game. Battery Hearn was never able to draw closer than ten points, and this left Battery Grubbs as the only team to be undefeated after playing two games. Next week includes Halloween, All-Saints Day and All-Souls Day, important days here in the Philippines, so it will be a short week for basketball. The five teams will ultimately play each other twice, followed by championship playoff games.
By the way, the uniforms look very nice, and each team has a slightly different style. Battery Way is a royal blue with white trim, Battery Geary is canary yellow with green, Battery Hearn is white with blue, Battery Grubbs is black with red and white, and Battery Crockett is dark green with white and black. The total cost – for fifty-six player uniforms, five muse uniforms, four committee shirts, and two referee shirts – was p37,200 (about $855). Compare that to a recent Michigan State University game in which Nike reportedly paid $200,000 (almost nine-million pesos) to outfit MSU with what some stated were the ugliest uniforms on the planet (one man called them “jammies”)…to be worn for one only game, against the University of Michigan, who also wore reputedly ugly one-game “throw-back” uniforms.
Hikers occasionally still discover pre-war relics. While our friend Karl was here he happened upon a large pitcher, the kind you often see with old-fashioned pitcher-and-basin sets. It is white enameled metal, and not in great shape – until you recall that it has lain in the jungle for about 70 years. It actually cleaned up fairly well, but has several holes and the handle is missing. The initials, “U. S. A.” and “M. D.” appear to be stamped on the bottom. Perhaps one of you readers can tell us what the “M. D.” stands for.
We wish to bring your attention to an artifact which is slowly disintegrating here on the island, and want to know your opinions on whether or not anything can and/or should be done about it. On February 16, 1945, the Americans landed on Corregidor to recapture the island from the Japanese. Members of the 503rd Parachute Regimental Combat Team first landed at Topside. We have learned that the first American flag raised that day was not at the historic Spanish Flagpole, the site of the ceremonial flag raising upon MacArthur’s return on March 2nd, which stands at the southeast corner of the Topside Parade Ground. It occurred on a flagpole that stood near the Post Improvement Building, down the hill and across the trolley line which ran west of the Parade Grounds.
Several of our explorer/history-nut friends are certain that they have located that flagpole. Or at least what little remains of it. As you can see from the picture, it now consists of several pieces of wood in the concrete-lined 14-inch hole which formed the flagpole base. Our friend Karl is standing next to it. It appears to have been burned down to around two-feet high. Assuming that this is in fact the actual base of this less-known but very historic flagpole, should something be done to preserve what is left of the pole? One suggestion would be to remove the few pieces of wood that are left and exhibit them, maybe in the museum or near the Spanish Flagpole. We also wonder if folks with ties to the 503rd PRCT might wish to sponsor a permanent marker to be placed in or beside the actual flagpole base.
Finally, about the pastry gift we received from Hitomi: Father John Nariai said, “The Japanese goody in the photo that you ate is ‘Shun no nama Yatsuhashi’ that is ‘dry cookie made of sweet potato, pumpkin and Japanese chestnut.’ It is baked only in spring and autumn.” Juan M. wrote, “My Japanese colleague here at work tells me it’s a type of Japanese ‘Hopia’ called Manju in Nihonggo.”