Monday, October 27, 2014

The Ambassador's Residence in Baguio City, Philippines

Besides our trip to Leyte, which we wrote about in our last blog, two of our tourists opted for an extension to Baguio.  We contacted the U.S. Embassy, and staff members arranged for the four of us to tour the Ambassador’s Residence in Camp John Hay.
Ken Hemmelgarn served in the U.S. Air Force and was stationed at Clark Air Force Base in Angeles City during the Korean War.  During that time, he visited Baguio, Lingayen Gulf, and Manila.  He wanted to see those places again.
Ken is president of Norwood Medical of Dayton, Ohio.  He told us that he has quite a number of Filipino employees who warned him to expect major changes.  All during our trip he kept saying how much things have changed, which is certainly true since the Philippine population has quintupled since he was last here more than sixty years ago.  He kept saying, “None of this was here, none of this was here,” wherever we went, especially at Clark and Baguio, although areas of the Kennon Road and the Marcos Highway looked familiar to him. We spotted sections of old bridges, which had been part of the roadway in those days.
Inside the residence we saw the room and the table made famous because of the formal surrender of General Yamashita Tomoyuki on September 3, 1945, the day after Japan surrendered in Tokyo Bay, ending World War II.
U.S. Embassy symbol over the entrance

The Ambassador's Residence pamphlet cover

U.S. Embassy Residence, Baguio
As you can see, the driveway is wet - a passing shower occurred while we were inside the building, and had ended by the time we came back outdoors

Flagpole in front of Embassy Residence

Landscaping near main entrance

 Ken, Jane, and Marcia at the entrance with our guide, Tess

Tess and Marcia in the entryway

Living room: portraits of Thomas Jefferson (center) and General Jonathan Wainwright (far right)

Wainwright portrait

Photo of the General Yamashita surrender (Wainwright sits at the table on far left,
and Yamishita second from bottom and just right of center)

Steve, Marcia, Ken, and Jane with surrender painting between them, Embassy living room

Famous surrender table, which is now located in the dining room

General Douglas MacArthur portrait located in the dining room

Closeup of the General

Ken, Jane, Marcia and Steve with the General

Tess climbing the spiral staircase

Bedroom at the top of the stairs said to have been used by General Yamashita

Hallway leading to other upstairs bedrooms

Spiral staircase as seen from above

Marcia and Tess as we said goodbye

Monday, October 20, 2014

70th Anniversary of MacArthur's return to the Philippines

It seems like almost everyone was aware of or was reminded that June 6, 2014, was the 70th Anniversary of D-Day.  We wonder how many of you recall that today, October 20, 2014, is the 70th Anniversary of the return of General Douglas MacArthur and the American forces to the Philippines.

Today we were honored to escort a small group of Americans to Palo, Leyte, for the ceremony which remains dear to Filipinos but for the most part forgotten by Americans.  Our group included two men who were in on the initial landing, as well as the daughter of a man killed on Leyte.  We hope we are wrong, but expect that U.S. media will fail to mention this important event which helped end World War II.
In order to get this to you on the actual anniversary, we threw together a few photos from the events.  We hope to have a much more extensive report of our entire tour in a week or two.
Self-explanatory (and true)

Soldiers awaiting arrival of VIPs

Fay and Virgil (Bub) Simmons, Dwain Bell, and Steve.
Bub and Dwain landed on Leyte on the 20th.  Bub was in demolition and was wounded here.
Dwain was in the engineering corps and helped build a bridge and lay ten miles of road from Dulag northward.

His Excellency, Philippine President Benigno Aquino III, addressing the crowd

U.S. Ambassador to the Philippines, Philip Goldberg, greeting our veterans

 Sally Moege, whose father died ten days after the initial landing, talking to a television reporter; this was her first trip to the Philippines

Ceremonial wreaths

Dwain Bell talking with a man whose father was also in the engineering corps on Leyte

Bub, who is short to begin with, looks even shorter next to the statue of General MacArthur

Filipino Boy Scouts coming ashore with the general and his entourage

Our group being treated to a scrumptious lunch at the Palo Municipal Hall

Our VIPs with Filipino veterans of WWII

Palo Mayor Remidios Petilla and American Chamber of Commerce in the Philippines Executive Director Ebb Hinchcliffe talking with Fay and Bub
More to come later.
Steve and Marcia on the Rock

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Butterflies, birds, and U.S. Marines

The past few weeks have seen beautiful weather, undoubtedly the warmest and driest September we have experienced here.  Certainly not what we think of as “rainy season” weather.
Marcia has photographed more butterflies and birds.  Included are pictures of an arctic warbler, a dollarbird, and a rufous night-heron that are first-timers to the blog.  Every nature photo was taken at Middleside very near our house, except the one labeled as taken at Battery Cheney.
We also had a visit by U.S. Marines who belong to the Special Forces “Recon” branch.  They were very impressed to learn the part the 4th Marines played in defending the island in 1942.
Butterflies on Shanghai Beauty blossoms

 Another Butterfly feeding on Shanghai Beauty blossoms

Butterfly camouflaged on a wall at Battery Cheney

Butterfly in the old butterfly garden

Butterfly on the house: the spots where you see blue are actually brilliant blue in sunlight, but this one insisted on posing in the shade - it would be considered large, except compared to the birdwing species we have see on the island

Not a butterfly, not a bird, but Marcia got this picture of a spider stringing its web along the clothesline attached to a dirty kitchen roof post

Grey-streaked flycatcher hunting from the acacia tree right behind the house

Black-naped oriole

Black-naped oriole seen in flight, defending a nesting site

Brown shrike hunting from a dead tree beside our solar panels

 Arctic warbler, heard frequently in the yard, but so active that it is hard to photograph

Dollarbird: it visited the yard for most of one day, and then appeared briefly the next morning

Rufous night-heron in the shadows of the acacia tree above the reservoir:
we have sometimes heard them call out in the early morning or just after dark, but this is our first sighting of the pair who feed on frogs in the open reservoir cells

Rufous night-heron above the reservoir

Unenhanced photo of clouds lit up over Cavite Province opposite the setting sun

Road to Battery Cheney blocked by fallen tree as a result of July's Typhoon Glenda.  A fair amount of work needs to be done to return the trails to walkable condition

U.S. Recon Marines and Filipino Special Forces members pose 
with Steve (in bright green shirt) at Battery Way

We are only a few days away from hosting another exciting tour.  This year we are anticipating having two WWII veterans with us who were part of the “Leyte Landing,” where General Douglas made good on his “I Shall Return” promise 70 years ago this coming October 20.  Our tour, arranged by Valor Tours of San Francisco in coordination with Rajah Tours here in the Philippines, will be part of the festivities in Leyte.  We have been there three times, including April 2013, and are wondering what we will see following the devastation of Typhoon Yolanda, purportedly the strongest typhoon to ever make landfall over a populated area.  It will be very interesting to see how the resilient people of the Philippines have recovered in less than a year’s time.
Steve and Marcia on the Rock