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Monday, June 2, 2014

O'Donnell - Cabanatuan

Outside Camp O'Donnell, several of us got out and walked the last kilometer to honor the suffering of the soldiers. Some walked faster than others, but we all got there. All the prisoners passed through here before either dying, being sent on to other camps, or being placed in Hell Ships.

This obelisk is a joint project of the Japanese and Philippine governments, promising this will never happen again.

The area also serves as the memorial for the Filipino fallen, and lists the name of every soldier who was lost. Here Carol and I are reflected in it. Click to read the inscription.

Then we went to Cabanatuan, the concentration camp where my uncle and so many more died. That was moving because we could see the exact spot where the "Zero Ward" of the hospital stood, so we knew he died right there. Here is a little bit of that garden part of the memorial, where the hospital was.
Also, at Cabanatuan, right in the middle of the Araw Ng Kagitingan celebrations, they had decided to tear down the Walls of the Dead for refurbishment. Steve or someone called ahead and got them to leave my uncle's up for us. I mean, I'm glad they want to refurbish and properly maintain these memorials, but right in the middle of the national observance? Really?
Click to see better. It's misspelled, as usual, but we have been reassured it will be corrected when the new panels are installed, and they will send us pictures.
This is the slab they use as an altar for big events. Behind it is the area where the Walls of the Dead were taken down.
After Cabanatuan, we ate in a mall, did a little shopping there, and drove back to Manila. It was a very long ride and I spent as much of it as possible sleeping. The next day was Sunday and the trip to the cemetary, both emotionally and physically demanding, as we were all headed either home or to Hong Kong, so I wanted to rest as much as possible. Also, I had to repack for flights. Everyone did, and so it was an early night.
Before I forget, here's our trusty bus, an oasis of cold air in the hottest place I've ever been in my life. There's a little banner on the front explaining why we're there.


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