Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Steve and Marcia's last night and last day on Corregidor

On Tuesday night we attended a party for Steve and Lt. Col. Artemio Matibag, Executive Director of Corregidor Foundation, Inc (CFI).  Steve and Art share May 20 birthdays, but since we'll already be back in the States by then, Art decided to call it an early birthday party rather than a going away party.

We began the party at the "Motor Pool."
Some of the gang at the Motor Pool

CFI island manager Ron, Steve, and Art in front of the motor pool, as we move the party to "Baywalk"

Our last sunset on Corregidor was once again very colorful

Art Matibag

Willy, who lives off island, staffs the motor pool and operates large bancas that ferry guests to and from Bataan

Ron, who seems saddest of all to see us go

What would a party in the Philippines be without karaoke?

Our former helper, Gilbert

Mechanic Budoy

Auto technician Jujit

Steve singing "I Can't Help Falling in Love" to Marcia while we dance

Steve and Ron singing a Beegees Medley

Gilbert joins in

Ron and Marcia dance while Steve sings "Rock Around the Clock"

Steve's final song was especially for Ron, Carole King's "You've Got a Friend."  Gilbert closed out the party by singing "Farewell," unfamiliar to us but very appropriate.

The next morning, May 6, was the 73rd anniversary of the fall of Corregidor, and the 13th anniversary of Steve's first visit to the Rock.  As he has done on several previous occasions, Steve began the day by spending the sunrise at Battery Way, where his father Walter was commanding the last big fixed gun firing at the invading Japanese from Corregidor.  According to Walter, the last shots were fired at about sunrise, when the Japanese were already ashore and the gun was too hot to function.

The entrance to Battery Way just before dawn

"Battery Way" above one of the magazines

Battery Way as seen from the left entrance

The four mortars of Battery Way.  The back right gun is number one, and the guns are numbered clockwise from there.  Number two (front right) is the last gun firing and the one that Walter commanded.  Number one was never in action, as it was unserviceable and used for spare parts.  Before the Japanese landings began, numbers three and four (the two on the left) were knocked out of action by Japanese artillery located on Bataan.

"Walter's gun"

Steve pondering the moment exactly 73 years ago, mortar firing while under fire, probably impossible to understand unless you've been through the genuine hell of war.

Steve's book, HONOR, COURAGE, FAITH: A Corregidor Story,  tells Walter's story of Battery Way and survival in the prison camps.  It is available on Corregidor, and in National Bookstores throughout the Philippines.  The Kindle edition is available worldwide from Amazon.
We saw these bushes on our way to breakfast at MacArthur's Cafe.

Variegated hibiscus (gumamela)

Santa Ana (santan)

At 11:30 a small ceremony was held at the "Parachute Dome" on Topside to commemorate the Fall of Corregidor, which also precipitated the Surrendered of the Philippines.  It would take General Douglas MacArthur almost three years to fulfill his promise to return.  The dome is a reminder of the initial parachute assault in 1945.
Below are photos of the ceremony, where once again Steve was the main event speaker.
Parachute Dome

Ceremonial wreath offered by CFI and FAME/AmCham Phils

Steve and Marcia presenting the wreath

Marcia giving the invocation

Steve speaks about remembering those who served during the "Fall of the Philippines"

During the ceremony, Art referred to a plaque that he is going to have installed under Walter's plaque at Battery Way.  It will read:

We extend our gratitude to our historian Mr. Steve Kwiecinski and his wife Marcia who spent six and one half (6 1/2) years on Corregidor researching and rediscovering the island's historical legacy from World War II.  Steve's father, SSgt. Walter Kwiecinski, is a great inspiration to them and to all.
Corregidor Foundation Inc (CFI)
Filipino American Memorial Endowment (AmCham Phils.)

Sun Cruises Inc (SCI)

Afterwards several guests in the audience came forward to talk with us.

Marcia with Beth Urbano, who runs several businesses on Corregidor

Marcia with a present from Beth

Steve, Art, Marcia, Beth, and Willy.  Steve, Art, and Beth all were born on May 20, though in different years.

Steve, Sylvia, and Marcia at our last stop at MacArthur's Cafe

Gilbert on Steve's old motorcycle, our departing gift for his loyal service

Ron and Steve:  Can you see that these guys will miss each other?

Sun Cruises' Bay Cruiser II, which will take us to Manila

One last look at Corregidor

Then we bid adieu to Corregidor and boarded the boat to Manila.  We fly home in less than two days, and will be with Steve's mother Mary Anne for the first Mother's Day in many years.  Walter passed away on Mother's Day, 1988.

Steve and Marcia (one last time) on the Rock

No comments:

Post a Comment