Thursday, October 6, 2011

Typhoon clean-up

Last week we wrote about Typhoon Pedring. We hope that we did not leave you with the impression that Corregidor sustained such damage that travel here is not advisable. Just the opposite is true: we are coming out of rainy season, and the island is fully open for business. In fact, we’d encourage you to hop aboard a Sun Cruises ferry and visit the island, and to stay overnight if you can make the time. Just remember that if you want Steve to be your guide you must make arrangements ahead of time.

Despite all of the tree damage that we described, life pretty much went on as usual once cleanup was underway. The majority of the wind and rain occurred on Tuesday. There were Philippine Coast Guard storm signals out for Tuesday and Wednesday, which meant that Sun Cruises was not able to bring tourists here those days, not that they would have wanted to. Roadway clearing was beginning by early morning on Wednesday, with all major routes passable by nightfall. On Thursday, regular tourist trips were resumed and more widespread clean-up continued. We want to point out what an outstanding job was done by the workers, led by Corregidor’s Resident Manager Ron, and Building & Grounds Manager Tony.

We have included several before-and-after pictures. Again, we say that it is remarkable what one man with a chainsaw and several using only their bolos (Filipino version of machetes) and muscle power could accomplish in such a short time.

Sadly, one of the historic buildings sustained notable damage: Middleside Barracks, home of the 60th Coast Artillery (American Army) and 91st Philippine Scouts (Filipinos in American service). The northwest corner of the southern building had a single pillar that had stood unsupported for almost seventy years. Now it is lying on the ground, most likely a victim of the high winds. We have provided the best before picture we could find, along with one of what it looks like now. The pillar was on the left side of the near building.

Those of you familiar with Middleside Barracks will recall the bracing added to certain parts of the southern building under the direction of the National Historical Institute, hoping to preserve some of the structure for as long as possible. There were some who opposed this initiative, people who felt that nature and time ought to be allowed to take their toll. We understand the sentiment, but have a different perspective as history buffs. The supports, although unnatural, will allow future generations to come to Corregidor and be able to get some idea of the buildings that were in use before and during WW II. So we fully support maintenance/preservation projects of this type. Over time, we realize we will see more and more sections of buildings fall. Fortunately, the steel-reinforced concrete is in remarkably good shape in most gun batteries and in parts of the main barracks and hospital, so they should be around for many centuries to come.

This past April our Valor Tours group included Matt Payne, who writes a travel column for the Washington Times. Matt recently wrote an article about his trip. You can read it at: Matt, we thank you for remembering us in your column. Hope to see you here again!

On a sad note, we were just informed that Malcolm Amos, a Bataan Death March survivor, a regular visitor to the Philippines, and a dear friend, has passed away. We have attached a couple of pictures of Malcolm that his son-in-law John Shively sent out. We will surely miss Malcolm.

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