Balwarte Park –February 12, 2014

2014-02-11 12.44.13 2014-02-11 12.38.20 2014-02-11 12.36.45 2014-02-11 12.29.33 2014-02-11 12.27.03 2014-02-11 12.19.55

 

We enjoyed the pleasant tropical breeze as we stood on the hillside looking out over the sea.We were in a beautifully landscaped memorial called Balwarte Park. As we walked the tiled trails and enjoyed the tirred fountains, our guide commented on the sites.

 

They say that the bad spirits come to sit in that tree. See how it has roots that start any place on the tree and trail down to the ground?

See the lava cliffs? This would be a good place for rappelling.

This is where canons were mounted during World War II. The big one would have been there, to control the sea. A smaller one on that side could control the river.

The parapet here was built to protect the soldiers defending this hill.

 

The peaceful, pleasant park was not always peaceful or pleasant It seemed that we could imagine the ground stained with the blood of those who died there.

 

The Philippines was a major player in the Pacific Theater of World War II. The country’s strategic location in this part of Asia made the Philippines a ripe plum.

 

Only hours after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, the Japanese also struck airbases in the American-held Philippines(around noon on December 8, local time). Caught by surprise, a majority of the military aircraft on the archipelago were destroyed during the Japanese air attack.

 

The Japanese followed their surprise air strike of the Philippines with a ground invasion. As the Japanese ground troops headed toward Manila, the capital, American and Filipino troops retreated. By December 22, 1941 they gathered in the more defensible Bataan Peninsula, located on the western side of the large island of Luzon in the Philippines.

 

Quickly cut off from food and other supplies by a Japanese blockade, the American and Filipino soldiers slowly used up their supplies. First they went on half rations, then third rations, then fourth rations. By April 1942, they had been holding out in the jungles of Bataan for three months and were clearly starving and suffering from diseases.

 

There was nothing left to do but surrender. General McArthur was ordered to Australia, leaving behind his famous promise: “I will return!” On April 9, 1942, U.S. General Edward P. King signed the surrender document, ending the Battle of Bataan. The remaining 72,000 American and Filipino soldiers were taken by the Japanese as prisoners of war (POW). Nearly immediately, the Bataan Death March began. After the 66-mile march, only 54,000 soldiers reached Camp O’Donnell

 

Japanese occupation of the Philippines was opposed by active and successful underground and guerrilla activity that increased over the years, and eventually covered a large portion of the country. The sacrifices and will of the people were a catalyst for the American return.

 

When General MacArthur returned to the Philippines with his army in late 1944, he was well supplied with information from the resistance groups. But the return was not easy. The Japanese Imperial General Staff decided to make the Philippines their final line of defense, and to stop the American advance toward Japan. They sent every available soldier, airplane, and naval vessel into the defense of the Philippines. The Kamikaze corps was created specifically to defend the Philippines.

 

Filipino guerrillas played a large role during the liberation. One guerrilla unit came to substitute for a regularly constituted American division, and other guerrilla forces of battalion and regimental size supplemented the efforts of the U.S. Army units. Moreover, the loyal and willing Filipino population immeasurably eased the problems of supply, construction and civil administration and furthermore eased the task of Allied forces in recapturing the country

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Fighting continued until Japan’s formal surrender on September 2, 1945. The Philippines had suffered great loss of life and tremendous physical destruction by the time the war was over. An estimated 1 million Filipinos had been killed from all causes; of these 131,028 were listed as killed in seventy-two war crime events. U.S. casualties were 10,380 dead and 36,550 wounded; Japanese dead were 255,795.

 

 

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