Thursday, August 08, 2013

Thursday, August 08, 2013

The small statue on top of the memorial marker.

Just beside the Immaculate Conception of Mary Cathedral is a small park, sort of a small-ish version of Luneta or Rizal Park in the city of Manila.

No entry fee getting in the plaza. 

Plaza Cuartel.

The fortress-looking entrance has an underground tunnel on its left side. 

The entrance.

The story is this (as narrated by the survivors), the place is an old garrison during the WW2 when the Japanese soldiers captured 143 american soldiers, imprisoned them on this small tunnel and on December 15, 1944, the Japanese soldiers pour gasoline on the prisoners and set them on fire.  Eleven of them were able to escape by swimming all the way to Iwahig.  The remains of those who died were sent back to Missouri where they finally were laid to rest at the Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery. 

The underground tunnel.
This did remind me of the time when we were at the Canakkale Naval Museum some years back.  I was with an Australian couple and while scrutinizing the black and white old photographs depicting the bravery of the Turkish soldiers against the ANZAC (Australian and New Zealand Army Corps), I heard them saying that the story conveyed by the photos and texts are different from what they have back home.  I suddenly realized, of course, stories will be different from each sides, it will always depend on where you’re standing.  In Turkey, they will definitely proclaim bravery and heroism, the protagonist, whereas, if your stand is from the other side of the fence, then the heroism will also be on that side. 

Which again reminded me of Arthur N. Chamberlain’s quote “In war, whichever side may call itself the victor, there are no winners, but all are losers.”

Going back to Plaza Cuartel, in an effort to honor the gallantry of the American POWs and as promised by the former Mayor of the city – Mayor Edward S. Hagedorn – to Don Schloat (former WW2 American POW), the commemorative marker was built.  The bronze marker is located on the right side of the walkway.  The unfortunates are listed on one side of the quad-pyramid memorial with a statue of a skinny guy that probably depicts the suffering of the American soldiers under the hands of Japanese soldiers.  There’s also another bronze marker listing of the names of the American POWs who were able to escape the tormentors.

The bronze memorial marker.
The whole place is a  landscaped garden with some really huge trees, several plants, walkways with the shapes of leaves etched on them, some benches, a local horse carriage, a small waterfalls with an equally small bridge.  At the far end is a nice view of the ocean with kampong – a small village of houses, some perched on the water. 


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