Bataan, Corregidor Island

6 Jun

History has always been fascinating to me, but being here has made me realize that the US and Philippines have been deeply intertwined for nearly 100 years since the Philippine revolution in 1898. We fight for them, they fight for us, and then we crash a mine sweeper on one of their precious reefs, due to “faulty navigation” ….but I digress. After a 3 month battle in Bataan in 1942 the Japanese army forced 60 to 80,000 Americans and Filipinos to march from Marivales, Bataan to Camp O’donnell. Known as the death march of Bataan, it is considered one of the worst war crimes in history.

After the third shift, at 7am, 13 of us packed into a 10 passenger van and drove from Quezon City, Manila to Marivales, Bataan. ( In case you’re wondering how we fit into said van, one American seat actually equals 2 Filipinos, so problem solved!) From Marivales we took boats out to Corregidor Island which has long been fortified to protect the entrance to Manila Bay. Corregidor also happens to site of two major WWII sieges and has been left unrestored in order to honor the soldiers that died there. We toured the island by jeepney and none of us realized exactly how big the island really is. Some of the hot spots include the Malinta Tunnel, the last stronghold of joint Philippine American military, the Filipino Heros Memorial, and the Corregidor Lighthouse, which is one of the oldest landmarks on the island. It seemed like we had the island to ourselves, and even though we were all exhausted, we managed to take an enormous amount of pictures, including jump shots.

Once back on the mainland it was time to find a place to crash for the night and drop off the people that were not staying the night. While we now had 8 people remaining in the 10 passenger van, this is where I get incredibly antsy. ‘What do you mean we don’t have a hotel booked?’ Perhaps it’s only the people I’m with on a daily basis, but they seem to have a difficult time making a decision. My interaction on a daily basis has been the struggle for where to eat lunch and what to order, and yet most restaurants have an 8 page menu. A typical interaction goes something like;
Coworkers: ‘ what do you want to eat?’
Me: ‘What do you normally order?What is the specialty here?’
Coworkers: ‘ umm anything, pork, chicken, beef, what kind of food do you want?’
Me: ‘I’m not sure what some of this is…what is palabok, what is lechon? well what are you getting?’
Coworkers: ‘umm I’m not sure yet, maybe we will go somewhere else’
Me: ‘ where do you want to go?’
Coworkers: ‘ where would you like to go?’ And on it goes.

You can imagine how the interaction went for picking a hotel. I was too tired to care where we stayed. I had faith in my US coworker and our driver, who has been our tour guide on the weekends. My US coworker was leaving for good on Sunday so this was to be her last hoorah. We settled at Villa Imperial, which did not happen to be on the list of hotels I had researched prior. Although there was barely running water and a flushing toilet, the food was excellent, and there was a videoke machine, which is very popular here. While I do not sing any type of karaoke, it was fun to watch, and with 26peso ($0.60) San Miguel beers what more could we ask for? We were provided with garlic rice at both breakfast and dinner, along with milk fish and Nilagang Baboy soup, which tastes like Eastern European sweet and sour cabbage soup. It has pork, bok choi, potatoes, and a type of white radish.

This week also marked one of my coworkers birthdays. In the US when it’s someone’s birthday, we all buy dinner for that person, or pay to go to an event of their choosing. In Asia, the birthday boy or girl pays for all their friends to go out. What a great idea! The birthday dinner happened to be traditional Filipino food at a place called Gerry’s Grill, (there are two locations in California)known for their sizzling pork sisig. We had beef care-care, crispy pla-pla, beef kaldereta, and tanigue kilaw. Some people may be grossed out when they discover what some of the food is, but don’t knock it ’till you try it. To cap off the dinner, we went to Conti’s for mango bravo cake. I love anything with mango, and mango bravo is officially my new favorite dessert here.

Tagalog word(s) of the day
Tawad- negotiate
Mahal- means expensive, but it also means love…love is expensive 🙂

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One Response to “Bataan, Corregidor Island”

  1. Villanueva June 6, 2013 at 12:53 AM #

    Your adventures in Corregidor was awesome, hilarious and exhausting. There’s a shortcut way from Manila to Corregidor, if you’re familiar (I guess) to PICC there’s a ferry travelled there everyday it’s costly but I think the price is reasonable. I been there in Corregidor and I noticed the pebbles on the shore tainted with red color according to them that’s the blood of all the soldiers died on the battle. Creepy right 🙂

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