Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Ninety-four year old Lingayen Landing veteran Leon Cooper; rainy season 2014 is here

One of the most interesting and exciting things about spending so much time in the history-rich Philippines is the opportunity to meet World War II veterans who are returning, sometimes for the first time in about 70 years!  Do the math and you realize that these men are, at the very youngest, close to 90 years old.

On Monday we met just such a veteran, 94-year-old U.S. Navy veteran Leon Cooper.  Leon is here in the Philippines with producer Steven Barber and director/camera man Matthew Hausle, who are filming for a new documentary, Return to the Philippines: The Leon Cooper Sequel.   Leon, Steven, and Matthew have already made the documentary Return to Tarawa: The Leon Cooper Story.

We spent several hours escorting Leon, Steven, Matt, and Ms. H to key sites on Corregidor, a place Leon had never before visited.  While here, he expressed both hot and cold feelings toward General Douglas MacArthur, among other Philippines-related topics.  He said that meeting the friendly Filipino people has made him rethink his previous opinion that the United States should have bypassed the Philippines and gone directly to Formosa (now Taiwan).  Below are a few pictures from Leon's visit.

U.S. Navy veteran Leon Cooper arriving with "Ms. H" at Corregidor's Engineering Dock

Leon is being filmed by Matt near the Lorcha Dock and the MacArthur statue, as Steve listens to Leon's thoughts about the General and his determination to "Return" to liberate the Philippine Islands from Japanese control

 Steven and Matt assisting Leon down from the jeep

 Matt and Leon resting outside the museum during a warm and busy tour

Leon at Battery Hearn

Betsy, a friend from Manila recently brought a group of four young (to us, anyway) folks who are working in Metro-Manila;  Max from Moscow , Alex from Munich, Chloe from near London, and Jose from Spain - we don't recall the city name, sorry.  The seven of us spent the day-tour hours hiking, starting from our drop-off at the Spanish Flagpole and proceeding along the Senior Married Officers' houses toward Battery Wheeler.  We included Wheeler Tunnel, a stop to see Battery Cheney, and then followed the jungle trail toward Battery Hanna and on to Battery Smith and our pick-up point at Battery Grubbs.  The driver took us to the hospital building for a quick walk-through, and we wrapped-up with a picnic lunch at MacArthur's Cafe before sending them back to Manila.

Tile-imprint as photographed on the kitchen wall at Fort Mills (Corregidor) Hospital

 "Bolzenburg" can be seen after reversing the image

Tile imprint as photographed

"Made in Germany"

Jose, a recent visitor from Spain who is currently working in Manila (Jose, can you see the resemblance to a famous comedian whose initials were A.K.?)

Following are a few photos of beautiful blossoms here on Corregidor.  Sorry, no bird pictures this time, although Marcia did spot - with the binoculars - two young Brahminy kite chicks nearing adult size in the nest we've followed since April.  The distance and lighting have prevented her from getting a decent picture.
Wild jasmine blossoms along the road to Battery James - we have also seen a number of jasmine trees in bloom when hiking Malinta Hill

  Tamarind blossom from the tree in our front yard

 Unknown blossom spotted beneath trees on Malinta Hill - if you can identify the tree, we'd like to know the name

Besides Leon Cooper and company, and Betsy's group, we have enjoyed hosting several other visitors in the past couple of weeks.

The Small family from South Dakota, whom we met thanks to their day-tour guide, Armando; David Jr., William, David III, and Sylvia, with Steve, and Marcia at the Corregidor Inn after we hiked Malinta Hill together
[Notice the light-colored objects on the leaves at the right edge of the photo]

Clusters of frog eggs hanging in the plants along the Corregidor Inn stairway (the light-colored objects from the previous photo)

Joel, Kyle, and Cheryl, recent day-tour guests thanks to Valor Tours, pose in front of a beautiful poinciana tree with MacArthur's Cafe in the background

Closeup of poinciana blossoms from the tree near Cine Corregidor.  There are many poincianas in bloom now all around the island, with brilliant colors ranging from yellow-orange to this bright red-orange

Suddenly, it seems, rainy season has arrived.  One way to know that it's coming soon is to watch the poinciana trees, also called flame trees or fire trees.  Typically, when they reach their peak color it indicates that rainy season is right around the corner.  We went from hot, dry days, to mostly-sunny days with rain at night for a few days, to now having lots of clouds and varying amounts of rain during the day and almost every night.  Fortunately all of our recent visitors had good weather.  As we write this, it is raining at midday, and had been since the wee hours of the morning.

Rain dripping off our roof at noon, proof that rainy season 2014 has arrived

One of the reasons we visit family and friends in the United States during July and August is that those are the two rainiest months in this area of the Philippines.  We are leaving for our annual trip to the States soon, knowing that we will have plenty of rainy weather in September when we return to Corregidor .  Blog posts may be even more erratic, but we will have email access almost all of the time and would enjoy hearing from you.

We hope to see many of you this summer.

Steve and Marcia on the Rock