As you probably know, the area we visited in Leyte was hit especially hard by Typhoon Haiyan (locally known as Yolanda) last November 8. Tacloban and the nearby cities were almost destroyed, with only the strongest-built buildings standing a chance against the ferocious winds and storm surge. Yet less than a year later the area has been rebuilt and sometimes it was easy to miss what had taken place. This is true because the Filipino people are used to tragedy, and rebuilding is a way of life for many of them. Also, the vegetation has returned, so it’s once again green everywhere.
Vicky Middagh of Valor Tours informs us that she will once again be offering an optional extension to Leyte with next April’s Ghost Soldiers Tour. It certainly seems we will once again be going not only to Manila, Corregidor, Bataan, Subic Bay, Clark Field, Camp O’Donnell and Cabanatuan, but Tacloban and Palo, Leyte as well. Check out the Valor Tours website at www.valortours.com. It’s one thing to read the stories and see the pictures, it’s something else entirely to be there and experience it for yourself.
Since we do not know what the future holds for us once we return to live in the United States, next April could be our last time hosting the Ghost Soldiers Tour. We certainly hope not, but “you never know.” We hope some of you can join us for the upcoming April tour.
Steve addressing the group on the bus on the first day
Museum staff member Maita talking with Bub and Fay at Santo Tomas University
Maita gives Bub a hug for his part in the liberation of the Philippines
Ken and Jane between President Quezon and General MacArthur inside Intramuros
Kyle under the entry arch at Fort Santiago, Intramuros
Sally presenting a wreath to her father at the Wall of the Missing, American Cemetery, Manila
Note the Jollibee (Filipino version of MacDonald's) next door
Dwain, Leyte Landing veteran, and his son Jim on the steps below the cross at Mount Samat Shrine
Malcolm accompanied us on several tours before passing away a few years ago.
Note: All of the preceding photographs were taken by Rogelio (Ojie) Santos, who accompanied us on the first four days of the tour.
We cannot imagine the patience that was needed by the local people as they waited for services to be restored. But for thousands, it was also waiting to find out if their friends and loved ones were among the living. Although the official death toll from Typhoon Yolanda is under 10,000, many believe that 50,000 dead would not be an exaggeration. We talked to many local people who are so grateful that others from around the world contributed through international charities and organizations, enabling them to regain some part of their past lives.
The famous Leyte Landing Memorial has been restored
Next week, on the first anniversary of the devastation, we plan to show you photos of the early aftermath of the storm, taken by our local guide Romilo "Butz" (pronounced boots) Eguia, who has kindly offered to share them with you.
Steve and Marcia back on the Rock