Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Manila American Cemetery

We got up early again so we could go to mass. Kurt (as a recovering Catholic) wanted to go to mass in one of the old churches in manila. There are many baroque ones from the time of Spanish conquest in the 1500's. We decided to go to San Beda which is a chapel within a college. Of course it was almost all the way downtown again. Traffic was god-awful. It took us over an hour to get there. The guide book said there was mass daily from 530 am to 8 am. There wasn’t. We sat for half an hour or so just taking it in. It was heavily frescoed. There were 24 life size (human life size) angel statues holding elaborate electric candelabra all around the top of the nave and the altar. Above each archway was a painted station of the cross. A lady was praying them. The Filipinos seem very devout. The chapel was in the baroque style. After leaving the chapel we had breakfast at McDonalds. We were super hungry and it was the only thing around. It was just like America except you leave your things on the table. There are people hired to clean it up.

Our next destination was the Manila American Memorial Cemetery (from WWII). The book said it opened at 630 am. LIE! It opens at 9 am. We had to hang around outside for a while to get in. Our main reason for visiting was to locate and photograph the grave of a man who worked for my family as a hired man in the 1940's. He was killed in New Guinea but by a tree branch accident instead of in battle. His only sister is in her 90's and still alive. My great aunt and uncle thought she’d really appreciate someone going to visit and photographing the grave. The cemetery is immaculate. It is mowed daily (by John Deere’s thank you very much!). I had located his grave on the net ahead of time. We stopped in the visitors center to find out where it was within the complex. They asked if we were family. I explained the situation. They gave me a packet of information that is only given to "bona fide next of kin" to give to his sister. It was neat including order forms for flowers and aerial photographs. A pregnant little filipia drove us to the site in a golf car. She took a couple of buckets with her to clean off the stone. The second bucket had graphite or something similar in it. She rubbed that into the letter on the stone so it would stand out. We took quite a few pictures then walked to the main memorial which consists of a tower and two semi circle structures radiating from it. The structures contain mosaic maps of the Pacific battles, seals of each state, and names of the dead and missing. All of the grass at the site was propagated from two hunks of sod from the USA. The cemetery is part of Fort Bonaficio. This is the prosperous part of Manila. Opposite the cemetery are glass hi-rises where the rich and expats live. Imelda Marcos lives in one of them. It was getting hot and we were getting tired so we flagged down another taxi. We decided to go to the biggest mall in Asia to look around and have lunch. We got dropped off at the wrong place. I’ve never ridden with such clueless cabbies.

We ended up having lunch at a Cajun place. One of their specials was an Iowa chop! That pretty much decided where we were eating. Kurt had that and I had a roasted lobster. He got the better meal. Afterward we headed back to the Regalia for sleep. It was a nap for me and a "night’s" sleep for Kurt since he had to go back to work that evening.

While Kurt was at work I was online and my laptop got hacked and I got the blue screen of death.

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