The first thoughts that come to mind when talking about Bataan would most likely be about bravery, courage, and heroism. Bataan is known as one of the most bitter parts of the WWII. The Philippines effectively became under the Japanese rule when the province fell to the invaders.
The Philippines played a critical role in American strategy during World War II. Before the war, the United States had large numbers of troops stationed on the islands. After U.S. forces were defeated from the islands, regaining the Philippines became an important goal. Especially for General MacArthur, who had been forced to evacuate from his headquarters there in 1942 when the Japanese attacked.
Gen. Douglas Mc ARTHUR
MacArthur decided to evacuate the city of Manila. Relocating his headquarters and the seat of the Philippines’ government to Corregidor an island fortress in Manila Bay. Unable to carry out his original plan of defending the coasts, MacArthur carried out War Plan Orange-3. Which called for delaying the Japanese advance at predetermined points in along the Bataan peninsula. Until reinforcements could arrive from America. This plan had been written with the assumption. Unfortunately, the fleet at Pearl Harbor will come to the defense of the Philippines. But with the destruction of those forces, there would be no reinforcements coming.
After Bataan fell from the Japanese a place called Corrigedor or Fort Mills during the American era. It has been a historic landmark of defense and hope. This island is located at the mouth of Manila Bay. It is the biggest of the heavily fortified islands that make up the harbor defenses of the capital. But years have passed this became into a tourist destination. The place now commemorates the heroism of both Filipino and the American soldier during the war.
This place reminds me of my dad a soldier fighting for our country to protect the freedom that we all have today.
It’s a beautiful sunny day when our rented boat arrived at its dock. We were greeted by few maintenance workers of the island as well as one of the most prominent figures during the war, General Douglas MacArthur was stationed in Corregidor and used it as Allied Headquarters until March 11, 1942. A statue in honor of him stands by the Lorcha Dock, MacArthur’s departure point for Australia. Many think this was where he uttered the unforgettable line, “I shall return.” Truth is, he actually said it when he was already in Adelaide, Australia.
All the hype and excitement leads us to our vehicle for a 5hr day tour. It was a humbling experience to see relics of the past in your naked eye. With the help of our tour guide, we loaded a jeepney type vehicle going around the island. Our first stop is the Mile Long Barracks.
The skeletal ruins of the Topside Barracks have become the most iconic landmark of the island. It used to house the quarters of American officers and enlisted personnel. According to our guide, however, if you walk from end to end on all three stories of the building, you will be covering almost a mile.
Off we go and we reach Malinta Tunnel “The name Malinta came from the word ‘linta,’ meaning leech,” our tour guide explained. “When they were digging through the mountain to build the tunnel, they found a lot of these blood-sucking worms along the way.”
Malinta Tunnel took 10 years to complete (1922-1932), an effort that proved useful during the war as it became the last stronghold of the military operations before the Japanese occupation. An elaborate network of tunnels run through the mountain, sheltering many of the soldiers during the war.
Today, its main tunnel is the theater for the Lights and Sound show, an audio-visual presentation created by National Artist Lamberto Avellana.
MOUNT SAMAT NATIONAL SHRINE
Along with the fortified island of Corregidor, Mount Samat is the site of one of the most vicious battles of the Philippine defense against the advancing Japanese Imperial Army in 1942 during the Battle of Bataan. Suffering heavy losses, Filipino and American troops retreated to the Bataan Peninsula for the last valiant but futile stand. War Plan Orange is part of the US strategy. Bataan finally fell to the Japanese after 78,000 exhausted, sick and starving men under General Edward P. King surrendered to the Japanese on April 9, 1942, the largest US surrender in history.
The site itself is part of the bloody battlefield where the Philippines’ last stand against the Japanese Imperial Forces took place.
It was always an awe to witness this kind of structure, its one of a kind here in the Philippines as part of the war memorial.
A day full of history and heroism. I have a resolve that since freedom is not free everybody should take good care of it.