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Saturday, May 24, 2014

Araw ng Kagitingan - Day of Valor

This is one of the big days on the trip. It is a huge observance for the Filipinas, who bus and walk for miles around to attend. Mt Sagat was the last line of the defense of the Philippines, and it is here our forces fell.

There is an enormous memorial way up on top, and many dignitaries participate. We do the same sorts of things at Arlington.
 
 
This banner welcomes the president of the Philipines to the 72nd commemoration of the event. He was rude and showed up 45 minutes late. Here we all are packed into a tent, waiting. Luckily it was cloudy.
 
 
Finally they laid their wreaths where we couldn't even see them, but here's the press corps.
 
 

Then they played the three national anthems. Aside from Ambassador Urabe and his staff, I appeared to be the only one who knew the Japanese anthem. I am not shy. I sang it, and our own, plus the Philippine anthem. I was quite the object of curiosity. I love national anthems, and I learn them for fun, in their native languages. Here's the difference between the Japanese and Philippine. The Japanese is one of the oldest (the oldest of all is the Netherlands) and the shortest. You can learn it in a week. "Lupang Hiniram" ("Land of the Morning") has about eight verses and three tunes and took the entire eleven months before I left to learn it. But I had a hunch it would come in handy.

Then the colors were brought forward and the dignitaries came in and gave speeches. The Japanese ambassador's was best, conciliatory and short. You may wonder why the Japanese participate and apologize every year. Money. They have it, the Philippines wants it, and they get it because let's face it, the Japanese owe them big time. Hooray for reconciliation.

 
Flags of the provinces.

 
Wreaths at memorial altar.

 
Me and Merchant Marine cadet. See how thrilled he is. This was Fred's idea. Click to see my hat detail.
 
There is no way I can describe to you how hot it was without quoting Dante's Inferno. Two bottles of water and no need to pee. Standing around in hot sun on a steep incline waiting for the bus. Keeping Abe's wheelchair from plummeting into a ravine of piss-soaked trash. That was the second time I got dumped on my ass but there was no way I was letting that happen. Crammed into a tiny bus with a dozen Filipino WW II vets. It was definitely a day to remember. Right after that we headed up the road to yet another resort, and we were grateful for how nice it was there. You'll see in the next entry.

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