Tuesday Photo Challenge — STONE

Week 179 of the Tuesday Photo Challenge is STONE (“Turn to something a bit more permanent.”)

Self went searching among her recent photos for examples of stone.

First, the fire pit at Manggapuri Villas, Purok Pagdanon, Don Salvador Benedicto, in the Philippine province of Negros Occidental (Dear Departed Dad’s home province). Just beyond, shrouded in mist, the still-active Canlaon Volcano. Don Salvador Benedicto is about an hour-and-a-half drive from Bacolod City:


Manggapuri Villas: September 2019

Next, a photo of Courthouse Square, just prior to the Annual Redwood City Salsa Festival:


Courthouse Square Before the Annual Redwood City Salsa Festival, Saturday, 21 September

Finally, a statue of General Douglas MacArthur on the Philippine island of Corregidor (That’s self standing with son and his cousin Georgina, 20 years ago. She found the photo when she was cleaning out the closets recently):


Georgina, Andrew and Self on the Island of Corregidor, at the Mouth of Manila Bay

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.




The Big Picture: Slowly Coming Together

Self has spent the last eight years working intermittently on a World War II novel. She would occasionally make forays into the Hoover Archives and spend the day there, reading memoirs.

Once, she requested an item, some memorabilia an American soldier stationed in the Philippines had taken back to the States with him. She was amazed when a librarian actually came out to talk to her. “We can’t bring the box out here to the reading room. But we can let you take a look at the contents if you follow me.”

So of course she followed the librarian. And he took her a level below. And there were people in an office staring at her. And someone asked, “Is this she?” And the librarian said yes. Then they took out a box and stood back while self looked in it. And, damn. Samurai swords. What?

She was the first person ever to request that particular item, and she’d done it simply on a hunch. Because the man was an American soldier, a survivor of Bataan and Corregidor.

Self never knows where her curiosity will lead her. It sure does lead her to some interesting places.

She knows what happened on Bataan and Corregidor. Of course. She is from the Philippines. She’s been to Corregidor, looked at the American gun emplacements, seen the flag of Japan flying alongside the flag of the Philippines on the quay. She’s walked the maw of Malinta Tunnel, which is said to be haunted.

She read the transcripts of the trial of General Yamashita, responsible for the overall defense of the Philippines, who the Americans convicted of war crimes and hanged in Los Baños (Yamashita’s lawyer was a very young and inexperienced American who knew the only reason he’d been assigned the defense of the general was because he was not expected to win. At the death sentence, the lawyer cried)

But, damn. Hampton Sides. Thank you for laying it all out so vividly. In command of the Japanese Imperial Army was Lieutenant General Masaharu Homma.

Ghost Soldiers, pp. 56 – 57:

There was little point in occupying the Philippines if the Japanese Navy or merchant marine could not freely use the docks and wharves of Manila Bay, the finest natural harbor in Asia. Yet one could not control Manila Bay without controlling Corregidor. Fixed with cannons that could fire twenty miles, honeycombed with deep tunnels and lateral shafts, Corregidor was stuck like a steel bit in the mouth of Manila Bay. The island was shaped like a tadpole, its squirmy tail pointing off toward Manila, its bulbous head aimed at Bataan.

There was only one way for Homma to take Corregidor, and that was for him to move his forces into southern Bataan, array his artillery pieces high along the southern flanks of Mount Mariveles, and rain unmerciful fire down upon the island, softening it up until an amphibious assault could be reasonably undertaken.

It is an axiom of Euclidean geometry that two points cannot occupy the same space, and therein lay Homma’s problem. Before he could move his forces into southern Bataan, the surrendered Americans and Filipinos (80,000 men, approximately) would have to be moved out . . . the Bataan prisoners would have to be hastily cleared away — swept off the stage, in effect, so the next act could begin.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

The Writer at 16: “Bivouac,” Part II

“Bivouac,” Part II

Elena and some of the other girls spent the hours before lunch gathering colorful stones to take back as souvenirs to Manila.  Their fair skin blushed an angry red because of the intense heat, perspiration gleamed on their necks and backs, and the hot rocks baked their feet, but they were happier than when they had been lying in the flimsy tents with the darkness assaulting their senses.

Elena was reminded of Matabungkay, where she and her family used to spend long weekends.  There was the same laughter hanging in the air, the same feeling of companionship.  She wished she could remain on the beach the whole day, but the sergeant had announced that morning that they were going on a hike to the tunnel the Americans had built on the other side of the island during World War II.  He had sounded as apologetic as ever, and blushed ridiculously for a grown man.

(If self had remained in the Philippines, she probably would have continued writing like this:  unhurried descriptions, langurous moods.  But —  water under the bridge.  Now she is here, and she has perfected the art of telegraphing emotion in very short, spare pieces.  Probably because, here, she is always pressed for time!)

Memorial Day: Reading “War, Literature and the Arts”

This past weekend, the History Channel showed a number of war documentaries.   Yesterday, self finally got to watch Clint Eastwood’s Letters From Iwo Jima.  She had refused to see it when it was showing in theaters, out of some vague, unfocused sense of loyalty to the husband, whose grandfather, a brigadier general in the Philippine Army, was taken from his family by the Japanese and never returned.

But, darn if she didn’t find herself so absolutely moved by the film.  In fact, she told the husband, she was more affected by that movie than she was by Saving Private Ryan.

Self is on the War, Literature & the Arts e-mail list, and this evening there was a message in her “in” box about a new post.  So she eagerly went to read it, and it was absolutely fascinating.  James Moad II, who edits the blog, used to teach in the Air Force Academy.  Self thinks he is very brave.  He writes, “Of course, war is not moral, and maybe that’s the tragedy of it all for those who have to fight.”

He recounts a time when he was still teaching in the Air Force Academy, and he got a call from a concerned parent whose daughter was experiencing nightmares after reading one of the books Moad had assigned in his War Literature course.  The book was called Tiger Force and dealt with American atrocities in Vietnam.  Self has read quite extensively about American atrocities in Vietnam, and can certainly see why a young person might suffer nightmares after readings like that, but Moad reminds his readers that the student was enrolled in a Military Academy, after all.

Moad (in passsing) mentions “the anger of Odysseus upon his return home in The Odyssey” (which reminds self very much of the anger of returning Vietnam War veterans, whose sacrifices went largely un-recognized), and about Plato’s The Cave (“about how focusing on moral certainty can keep us from seeing reality”) and it’s just a really great essay, which reminds self that she took son and Niece G on a tour of Corregidor when they were about seven or eight years old.  That was a great tour.  The guide seemed to speak with such passion about the events of a long-ago time.  The tour ends at a memorial, on a bluff overlooking the sea.  And what self remembers most clearly were that there were a few very old American veterans on the tour.  At that memorial, they all broke off to stand singly, and stared out at the sea, and some were visibly weeping.

And self thinks that every returning Filipino must be required to take this tour.  But why leave out the rest?  Let’s just say, every Filipino who is in high school or college in the Philippines, must be required by their schools to take the Corregidor tour.  If Israel can require its citizens to spend time on a kibbutz (or the Israeli army), certainly the Philippine government can require its people to honor the sacrifices made on Corregidor.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

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