Eight years and we only got to go on an out-of-town together once many years back when she invited me to her company’s summer outing to Enchanted Kingdom . In fact it really wasn’t an out-of-town trip for me since I was still living in Sta. Rosa then. I have since traded my quiet provincial life in Laguna with a more exciting, faster, and money-draining lifestyle in the big city.
Then a few weeks back she asked, after her move was finalized, if I wanted to tag along to her PhD class’ field trip to Corregidor Island . I wasn’t sold on joining since I didn’t want to give more blows to my already bruised financial situation. I changed my mind after learning I would only be shelling out half of the normal price.
The price was a steal so off we went together with another cousin. The trip, which was my fourth for the year the last of which was way back in March, was a blast. I had fun. I barely listened to the history lesson barked by our tour guide as I basked on the LOST-like island. I wondered how the island may have looked decades ago when it was still teeming with life.
I imagined the buildings, bombed to smithereens during World War II, inhabited by soldiers playing tennis, swimming at the pool, holding office, or having a leisurely walk on lazy afternoons. It would have looked imposing at night bathed by the moon’s light, music and laughter wafting from the barracks.
Now, more than a half-century later the architectures looked dead – battered by age, roofless, floorless. The island, similar to the structures built on top of it, showed no signs of life except maybe for a couple of monkeys we saw near the Pacific War Memorial. The place was quiet; seemingly still mourning the lives lost. It is said that ghosts roam the island – unable or unwilling to move on to the afterlife.
The day spent in Corregidor was a pretty good history-learning experience. I learned that Corregidor is not a part of Bataan but are two different places, islands. I learned that Corregidor was a penal colony during the Spanish era and protected Manila Bay from invaders. I learned that the last Japanese soldier to surrender hid in the forest for more than three decades. He went out of hiding in 1979.
A visit to Corregidor could and should make us realize that blood had to be shed, lives had to be lost, and battles had to be fought to earn back our freedom and that it must never be taken for granted.
We should, as Capt. Miller said as he lay dying in Saving Private Ryan, “earn it, earn this”.