Category Archives: Taguig

The Manila American Cemetery and Memorial : Homage to the Great War Dead

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“The Nichols airfield (now Villamor) was used to housed the remains before they were brought here,” Mr. Caloud, the American Memorial and Cemetery superintendent on duty said. He recounted so many stories about the history of the cemetery that I felt bad not having my recorder with me. A former Marine from Iowa who’s married to a Filipina he feels sad about the state of our “Libingan ng mga Bayani.” A cemetery a few kilometers away from the beautifully designed and maintained American cemetery. He believes those who made the ultimate sacrifice should be accorded with the highest honors a country could give.

The recent visit by the American Secretary of State compelled me to visit the cemetery. If a busy person like that could spare some time to pay respects to our war dead, what’s my excuse? I practically work a few meters from this cemetery’s fence!

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From the administration office I walked all the way to the middle of the circular designed cemetery. There I found 25 maps of the campaigns during the Pacific wars, these maps are around 10 foot high mosaic and are beautifully made using fragmented shiny colored tiles. On the floor are engraved seals of all the American states.  The Wall of Missing are these massive tablets where 36,000 names are engraved. Those that are no longer considered missing have these bronze button affixed at the beginning of their names.

I was moved to see the names of Filipinos engraved side by side with their American colleagues. Considering that this beautiful cemetery was constructed in the mid 1900’s makes it all the more impressive.

I was told by Mr. Caloud that the funding for the memorial is sourced from their congress. It’s likely that it does not get a fixed budget. The American Battle Monuments Commission is in charged of looking after the cemetery and others like it all over the world. The Manila American Cemetery and Memorial is the second largest US military cemetery with 17,201 graves of known and unknown soldiers.

While I was walking around the cemetery I saw a small but steady flow of visitors. Mostly foreigners who perhaps were drawn to the hollowed grounds by curiousity. Visitors with family members buried in the cemetery usually gets in touch with the superintendent to have the name checked and the lot located. Dropping by and offering a prayer to these courageous heros who died so we all could live in freedom is worth your free time.

For more info about this place please visit:
http://www.abmc.gov/cemeteries/cemeteries/ml.php

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An American Cemetery in McKinley

“Don’t they have one?,” inquired a colleague after seeing a visitor-less cemetery known as the “Manila American Cemetery and Memorial”. They have Halloween but undas is uniquely Filipino. With Spanish-Mexican cultural elements sprinkled in.

The serene beauty of the American Cemetery and Memorial in Manila (actually, Taguig, or Makati, depends where your loyalty lies) taken just outside my office window.

It’s hard not to notice this beautifully designed and maintained cemetery. Whenever I look outside my office, it’s there. Surrounded by the towering buildings of the BGC and McKinley Hill.

How our heroic, glorious war dead feels about all these development? They’re dead yes, we’ll never hear their opinion about all these constructions but you know, I feel all the land development (like here in McKinley Hill) could have been made a little farther from the cemetery grounds.

Everything is being developed around this area. Land development knows no boundaries especially when there’s big money on the line. Looking around, I think 3-5 years from now, there will be more buildings and this cemetery would be totally obscured by soaring edifices.

I can’t wait to bring my brother (a genuine American history buff) to see this cemetery, the biggest outside their country. 17,000 war dead rest in this hilly part of Taguig (or Makati). The architecture is of interest to me. American’s sure knows how to design big and efficiently. My Spanish teacher, during a discussion about Spanish town planning in the last three centuries, conceded that Americans were more broad, wide, practical and effective in designing towns and spaces.

The cemetery is located in a plateau. It has 17,206 graves. Close to four thousand of which are marked unknown.


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