Monday, November 10, 2014

Monday, November 10, 2014

If you’ve just been to the Immaculate Conception of MaryCathedral (or The Cathedral), then just beside it  is a small park, sort of a small-ish version of Manila's Luneta or Rizal Park.  The Plaza Cuartel is not really that impressive for a park, but it has some interesting stories to boot plus a nice view of the bay.

The plaza is a bleak reminder of this city during the WWII.  The fortress looking entrance of the plaza has an underground tunnel on its left side which holds atrocious history.

As narrated by the survivors, the place is an old garrison during WWII when the Japanese soldiers captured 143 american soldiers, they were imprisoned on this tunnel. On December 14, 1944, the Japanese soldiers pour gasoline on the prisoners and set them on fire. 
The entrance to Plaza Cuartel.
The underground tunnel.
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 were laid to rest at the Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery.

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 WWII American POW, one of those who have survived the massacre), the commemorative marker was built.  The bronze marker is located on the right side of the walkway.  The casualties are listed on one side of the quad-pyramid memorial with a statue on top of a skinny guy tangled on a barbed wire that befittingly depicts the atrocities.  There is another bronze marker listing the names of the American POWs who were able to escape the torments of fire.
The statue commemorating the history of the plaza.

The whole place is a landscaped garden dotted with trees, plants, walkways with shape of leaves etched on them, benches, a local horse carriage, a small waterfall with an equally small bridge which I did not see the last time I went there, there must have been some renovation going on.  At the far end is a nice view of the ocean with kampong – a small village of houses, some perched on the water – which also were demolished - reclamation is ongoing.
One of the pathways.

I wonder if someone had not thought about renaming this park from Plaza Cuartel to "The American Park", in honor of those american soldiers who died there?  

Also, I think it would be a good idea if the park development authority will clear the bushes at the far end overlooking the bay and construct a viewdeck of sort, put up a snack kiosk or cafe with tables and chairs, it would be a good source of income for the maintenance of the park, entry is free anyway.

Slap your skin with mosquito off-lotions as the place have a lot of these peskies, especially in the evening.
Take a a tricycle or multicab (fare P8 - 10) that goes to the city center (signboard “Bayan”) and get off at The Cathedral, it’s beside it.  If you’re staying near or around the center, it’s an easy walking distance.

Another stop during a "City Tour".

Entry Free.


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