Sunday, February 3, 2013

Aussie Bill Borg

January marks a time of year when people like to stay for a while on Corregidor.  The temperatures are moderate, there is usually a breeze, and the chance of rain is slight.  Following the visit by Steve’s sisters, we had a short break before being visited by Aussie Bill Borg.  Bill is married to a Filipina, and the two live in Brisbane, at least until “the Boss,” as Bill refers to his wife, retires later this year.  Then they plan to spend much more time in the Philippines, where the cost of living is lower.
Bill is a font of knowledge on Australian military history, and acts as a volunteer at Fort Lytton in Brisbane.  One of the most interesting things about his background is that Bill’s father was from Malta.  Many consider Corregidor to have been the second-most bombed island in the world, with Malta holding “first place,” and Bill’s father was there during that bombing.  Also, Bill’s mother was from Coventry, England.  She lost most of her family when Winston Churchill made the difficult decision that to warn the Coventry inhabitants of the impending aerial assault on their city would alert the Germans that the British had cracked the Enigma code.

Bill first came to Corregidor in 1983, and he provided us with a number of pictures taken at that time.  The roads were unpaved and there were not nearly the improvements or operations that are evident nowadays thanks to the Corregidor Foundation, Inc., and Sun Cruises, Inc.  He has come back on several other occasions, and we met during his last visit two years ago.  Bill contacted us and wondered if we wouldn’t mind spending some time with him, for company and as guides to places he had yet to see.  As with Della and Paula’ visit, Bill ate his breakfasts at the Corregidor Inn, treated us to lunches at MacArthur’s Café, and we provided the dinners, which were expertly prepared by our helper, Gilbert.
We spent time walking through areas of Malinta Tunnel, and climbed to the top of Malinta Hill.  Not only is there a great view, but it also contains the easiest location for exploring a searchlight position.  We also went into what we call the RJ43 Tunnel, so named because it is near what once was called “Road Junction 43.”  You may recall that a couple of years ago Steve almost stepped on a very passive, very large cobra inside that particular tunnel.  This time we encountered no such snake, which is by far the norm in all of the many tunnels here.

One day the three of us hiked on Morrison Hill and saw the only Japanese AA gun remaining in its original position on the island.  Four others were moved to the Japanese Memorial Garden on Tailside.

Bill at the Japanese AA gun on Morrison Hill

Another day, Bill borrowed Steve and Gilbert’s motorcycle and drove around the island.  He eventually worked his way to James Ravine, where he struggled down the rocky beach and eventually made it to Rock Point.  This is something that we personally have never done, but after seeing his pictures, decided that we will have to give it a shot one day.

Bill on Steve and Gilbert's motorcycle

Bill's photo of Rock Point

On our last day together we went to Battery Hanna.  We explored the nearby tunnel.  Then we headed out toward Battery Cheney.  “Old Eagle Eye” Steve led the way, at least until Marcia, in second spot, told him that he had just walked right next to what appeared to be a very large, possibly dead snake body.  Since the snake was right on the trail, we thought it best to see if in fact the snake, which upon quick observation was about a ten-foot long python, was alive.  Steve prodded it with a stick – a long stick – at which the seemingly dead snake raised its head, opened its mouth very wide, and lunged in Steve’s direction.  Although Steve had made sure he was well out of the snake’s reach, he was still a bit startled for a couple of seconds.

The python had obviously fed recently, since its belly bulged.  We estimated that its belly was about the size of Marcia’s mid-forearm, or about 9 inches around.  We took a few pictures – after that initial lunge, it was very docile – and then we went on our way.  Unfortunately, the camera did not capture the blue coloring at the level that our eyes did.  You can get a hint of it in the photo if you look along the sides of the python’s body in the foreground.  We did not immediately report the sighting, since pythons are not venomous, and this part of the trail is very seldom used and quite remote so this one represented no concern to island residents or visitors.
We want our readers to know that we are usually available to accompany them around Corregidor should they decide to stay overnight.  Just give us fair warning so that we can add you to our calendar.  We have had people plan Corregidor trips before consulting with us, and then learn, too late to reschedule, that we would be unavailable at the time they chose to come.  We love having visitors, and hope that some of you will join us here for a special look at Corregidor, whether you’ve been here before or not.
In our most recent newsletter we sent a photo of Steve and his two sisters standing beside the Middleside Barracks.  There was purposely something a little “different” about the picture, but few of you seemed to have noticed.  Look at the three similar pictures that we are attaching and see if you can remember which one it was that we sent with the last newsletter.  You might be surprised at what you see.

Was it this one?

Or this one?

Or this one? 

Did you notice it the first time?  Almost no one did!

Steve and Marcia on the Rock

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