Date: 17th April 2011
Technically yesterday was day one in Philippines, but today was when I would officially begin my sightseeing. After a good hearty sleep, I woke up in time for breakfast at Kabayan (they start serving really early).
Where they serve breakfast and lunch
The breakfast and lunch isn’t your usual buffet offering. You queue up and get served your choice of dishes. No seconds.
Still, they give you a mouthful
It was enough to kick-start my day.
Although, I went back to my room and ended up watching TV for some time. This Filipino Steve Irwin was showcasing the natural wonders of Palawan, a place I was going to. So I considered it 'research' (even though he spoke mostly Tagalog).
As per my trip itinerary, I was going to be leaving Manila tonight for Banaue, but thanks to Aimee who already bought the bus ticket for me, it freed me up today to go see the Manila American Cemetery and Memorial — which wasn’t far from where I was staying.
I had to check out by noon — and I duly did so by noon. I kept my luggage at the reception and told them I would collect it in the evening. Since it was already 12pm, I had lunch from Kabayan before leaving.
My first taste of Filipino cuisine. First impression: dry. Not a whole lot of varied flavour. Unlike Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand, I guess curry isn't common here. I only had chicken stock to flavour the hard sticky rice.
Done with lunch, I made my way to a very busy Pasay MRT station. Bought myself a one way ticket to Ayala station (as that’s where Aimee told me I needed to go first).
Ticket cost ₱10
It was a short 5 minute ride to Ayala
This stop is is a popular shopping hub because of SM and the Glorietta malls here
I also saw a Convergys office here, not that I was surprised to know big Indian BPOs have offices here in the Philippines.
I took a taxi because the cemetery was to be a short drive from here
But the taxi driver in his broken English started hinting as though he had no idea about the cemetery, its existence or how to get there — which I knew was just an act. The cemetery is quite famous and located in the posh Fort Bonifacio area in Taguig. Plus, its freaking huge!
I was getting a little irritated by the taxi driver as we were slowly driving around business parks with the cemetery nowhere in sight
Fortunately, there was a traffic policeman up ahead and I forced him to stop so that I could ask the officer as to how to get to the cemetery. The officer gave the taxi driver instructions and I could see a smile on the driver’s face as if he was thinking “yeah, yeah, I know where it is. Fine, I’ll take him there!”
A few minutes later, I arrived at the cemetery. The fare: ₱135 ($3/€2.2). Way too much!
Anyway... phone camera in, time for the DSLR to begin its usage
There isn’t an entry fee for the memorial. The security guard only asked me to sign my name in and advised me not to step on the grass or walk through the first two lanes (don’t know why).
Didn't look like there were many people inside
Stuck to the left side
With over 17,000 graves, this is the largest war cemetery outside the United States
I shot a lot of panoramas because there was no other way I could capture the scale of the cemetery
The Memorial Plaza
I didn't seem many workers here
I could see the cemetery from the sky just as I was about land yesterday
You find the occasional Jew among the crosses
This cemetery is a symmetrical haven
(Panorama comprised of 12 shots)
I like how they decided not to cut some trees
Panorama comprised of 11 shots
Panorama comprised of 13 shots
Back of the Memorial Plaza chapel
I took a break from the circle and decided to check out the Memorial plaza
I wrote a note in the visitor’s book they have inside the chapel and left.
The battles these soldiers fought are all showcased here
Mostly World War II and the other Pacific battles America fought in
The names of the 17,000 plus soldiers buried here are engraved on these walls
I couldn't help but notice there were a lot of Filipino names on the walls too
Ah, that explains it. I was under the impression only American soldiers were buried here.
The have the respective state seal corresponding to the walls with the soldiers from the same state
I left the Memorial Plaza
Took the 70-200mm lens out for this shot
Even though it was scorching hot, I chose to come at this time for the lighting: I wanted shadows
Panorama comprised of 10 shots
You can bring your vehicle inside if all you want is drive through
You can't really see it but the water was evaporating as soon as it hot the hot tarmac
Larger the panoramas, the smaller the crops when making it fit on my website
This and the above photo was one composition that had to be cut into two. It was fun to pan through the original full size panorama though.
Had to try black & white
Added a bit of grain to this one
It was time to leave
A recipient of the Medal of Honor
All the new construction around Fort Bonifacio (Panorama comprised of 10 shots)
Took this on the Canon 450D, which I was also carrying
Panorama comprised of 14 shots
I walked back to the Memorial Plaza for one final look
From a little higher up
After 3 hours of sweating it out in the hot sun, I finally walked towards the gates
I felt satisfied with the photographs I took today. A good start to this trip.
The memorial is maintained by a US government agency
I went inside the visitor’s lounge and stayed for a few minutes. Not that they had anything to see inside, but the room had air-conditioning and a water cooler. The retired American army colonel who manages the place smiled at me as he walked into his office and said: “Enjoy it”.
Enjoy it I did
Feeling a bit cooler, I left the memorial. The Manila American Cemetery and Memorial is one among the few attractions in Manila worth seeing. You may not want to spend 3 hours here, that too in this heat, but I found it peaceful and a calm place for a bit of photography. Of course, do keep in mind this is still a cemetery honouring soldiers and not your usual family picnic park. So do show some respect for the dead once inside.
I took a taxi back to Ayala station
The taxi ride was through McKinley Road, and I quickly realized how posh this area was. The taxi driver told me very rich people live on McKinley Hill.
Passed a few highly fortified houses, which usually implies bureaucrats, individuals with questionable incomes sources and other high profile people live here
Unlike my rip-off taxi ride to the cemetery, the journey back was through the right path and it only cost ₱56
Figuring I still had some time (and craving for some more air-conditioning), I checked out Glorietta Mall
This was the only photo I took from inside before the security man came over and told me photography is prohibited. Oh well.
I checked out a few floors and left soon after
I took the MRT back to Pasay, went back to Kabayan, freshened up, collected my bags and called Aimee. She asked me to come to Central station, where she would meet me there.
Once at Central, we took a taxi and went to Sampaloc, cost ₱70.
We got down here
From there, it was a short walk to the Autobus office. I collected my ticket, paid Aimee back (₱450 for a one-way ticket to Banaue) and we sat a convenient store to chat for some time.
This is Aimee, and the Autobus office is in the background
I saw Aimee off and boarded my bus, a small one. I’ll talk about how the ride was in my next post but all in all, today was a good start. I had high hopes for the next few days.
Philippines 2011: Flying over South China Sea for the first time
Other posts in this series:
Philippines 2011: Day 2 – Banaue rice terraces; trekking to Batad village
Philippines 2011: Day 3 – Banaue town; heading to Sagada via Bontoc
Philippines 2011: Day 3 – Sagada’s Lumiang burial cave, Sumaguing cave, Hanging Coffins of Echo valley
Philippines 2011: Leaving Sagada for Baguio, and arriving in Angeles city (Days 4 & 5)
Philippines 2011: Day 6 – Good Friday in San Fernando, San Pedro Cutud Lenten Rites
Philippines 2011: Day 7 – Leaving Angeles City for Manila, Mall of Asia
Philippines 2011: Day 8 – Manila tour: Rizal Park, Intramuros, Manila Cathedral, China Town
Philippines 2011: Day 9 – Cebu: Fort San Pedro, Basilica of Santo Niño, Taoist Temple
Philippines 2011: Day 10 – Bohol tour: Chocolate Hills, Loboc river cruise, Tarsiers, churches
Philippines 2011: Day 11 – Arriving in Puerto Princesa, Palawan
Philippines 2011: Day 12 – Puerto Princesa Underground River tour, Palawan
Philippines 2011: Day 13 – Puerto Princesa to El Nido by bus
Philippines 2011: Day 14 – El Nido island hopping tour A and sunset at Las Cabanas beach, Palawan
Philippines 2011: Back to Manila, shopping, and my final thoughts about the country (Final post)
Tags: crosses, graveyard, mall, manila, manila american cemetery and memorial, philippines, sm mall, soldiers, tombstones, war memorial