BrainTeaser | Sherma E Benosa

Life is a puzzle; we are the clues, and God is the answer.

Corregidor Trip: A reflection

malinta-tunnel-scene.jpg

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“Bayang magiliw perlas ng silanganan, alab ng puso, sa dibdib mong bughaw…”

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My mind was traveling back and forth with lightning speed from the present to historical events almost 60 years ago as we sang the national anthem inside the darkened tunnel. As pictures of past and present events flashed in my mind, a cold chill surged through me.

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“Aming ligaya na ‘pag may mang-aapi ang mamatay ng dahil sa iyo.”

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There was a moment of silence after the last note, then noise suddenly erupted when the other end of the tunnel was finally opened and the kids started running out of the tunnel. I looked around for my friends Salve and Celestine. When I spotted them behind the two girls on my right, I walked to them, noticing their subdued countenance. I knew they were as affected as I was.

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“That made me sad,” I told my friends as we slowly made our way out of the tunnel.

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“Yes. That saddened me too,” my friends replied in unison.

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We were at the Malinta Tunnel in Corregidor, and we had just watched a light show about the World War II. We almost did not watch it because we were already tired from the morning tour. It’s a good thing we eventually decided to see it, as it was already the last leg of our day tour.

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The show is about the Japanese invasion to the Philippines. It focused on how bravely the Filipino-American allies tried to defend the country but failed with the fall of Bataan and of Corregidor. Highlights of the show are images of the death march, the return of Mc Arthur to fulfill his promise, and the subsequent mass suicide of the Japanese soldiers from the very tunnel where we watched the show to avoid having to surrender, or worse, being captured.

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As the scenes were flashed from several stations inside the tunnel amidst a moving narration and sound effects, I could feel my heart thumping with mixed feelings, primarily, of pride and desperation.

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I was proud for and thankful of the thousands of men and women who fought and died during those dark times of our history. But I also couldn’t help feeling very sad toward the end of the show, especially during the singing of the national anthem, with the Philippine flag proudly waving over us.

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As we sang, images of the thousands of men who marched to their death six decades ago kept flashing in my mind and I couldn’t help thinking: “God, here are the men who died for the country so we could be free, so we would have all the things that were denied them. But what have we done? And what are we doing?”

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Then images of what’s happening in our country now replaced the decades-old images, and I became even sadder.

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Viewed from the perspective of what the country has become after all those deaths and sacrifices, that part of our history, and even the other parts when our forefathers fought the earlier colonizers, take a very bleak appearance. It’s like everything was for naught. The lessons, glaring though they were, and still are, seem to have been lost to us.

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We are slaves still, though no longer with concrete chains. We, as a nation, are still slaves to the evils of corruption, to the crab mentality that has plagued us, to the evils of the need for power.

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We are still at war, only this time, no longer with outside forces, but with our fellowmen — and may I add — within ourselves.

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Just like the Japanese soldiers of the later part of World War II had been, we too are inside a very dark tunnel, preparing for suicide. Except that our reasons are not as honorable as the Japanese soldiers’ had been. They committed suicide because it would be a loss of honor for them to be captured, and honor was all that mattered to them; and surrender was not a part of their vocabulary.

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Whereas we are pushing our motherland to commit suicide, with the thoughtless acts of our leaders and the apathy in most of us.

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So I sang the national anthem with a sad heart and moist eyes. And a silent prayer. I prayed that we may find our way through all these things that are plaguing our nation now. That somehow, we would be able to give our children and our children’s children something to be proud of.

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As my friends and I walked to the waiting bus, my mind traveled fast forward to fifty years from now. And I shuddered as I wondered: “How would our grandchildren remember us when they look back to this part of history our generation is weaving?”

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Will they remember us as the generation that toppled a corrupt president, only to  replace him with someone who is equally corrupt — if not more — and a liar? I closed my eyes and made a wish, that we will somehow eventually get things right, and be remembered as the generation that stood up against the evils of corruption, and who steered the country to a brighter future.

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I know my wishes are almost impossible at present. Everywhere we look, there is desperation. But let us not allow these negative feelings we have and the bad things that are happening in our to country destroy us as individuals. For even if our problems as a nation have become a tangled web which now seems impossible to straighten, we can do something still, as individuals and as small groups.

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I still think there is a ray of hope somewhere in this dark tunnel we are all in right now. Let us just keep moving, and doing our part. Small things do add up, and make up for bigger things.

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[Photo Caption: A scene from the Malinta Tunnel Light Show]

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//Sherma E. Benosa; 18 March 2008; 1:25am 

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7 comments on “Corregidor Trip: A reflection

  1. Pingback: Corregidor Trip: A reflection

  2. Cliff
    March 20, 2008

    It’s a very patriotic entry Buddy. Felicitations. Je t’aime plus de jour en jour chérie

    Let me ask you tho. Did you see any group of school children touring the place? I know they teach history in our schools but will it make any difference if they’ll see what you saw in Corregidor? Will these kids understand better the meaning of patriotism and become better leaders in the future?

    (I bet my head but your interest in our history was only aroused when you saw the place.)

    Ah, the national anthem -its a lost cause. I know a country whose head of state can’t tell the title of their national anthem but the country and the government are functioning perfectly well.

    –yes, we should be singing our own version of “amazing grace” instead –the funeral tempo, and bury our over-dependence from other foreign goverment’s influence on how we should run our own. We were never really free. They still control us; our government, our economy…

  3. brainteaser
    March 20, 2008

    Hello Buddy! Je t’aime plus de jour en jour chérie TOO. 🙂

    Re your comment on the post:

    We shared our bus with loads of children (grades 5 and six). Three of the buses were occupied by kids. In fact, we had a blooper in that particular trip because we were not supposed to be with the kids, but my friends and I were mistaken to be the kids’ teachers, so no one questioned why we were in that bus. We only found out we were in the wrong bus at lunch time. (We had lots of bloopers in that particular trip, and I plan to blog about them when I have time.)

    Yes, I think visiting the place is a good way of teaching history. It’s better than simply reading things from books, or watching docus. The light show is like a docu, but seeing the ruins, the tunnel, seeing some memorabilia in the museum adds a lot of impact. 🙂

    Becoming patriotic and good leader cannot be achieved by simply watching a docu, or visiting historical places, Buddy. It takes a lot more, although I’d say having a good grasp of our history, and not missing the lessons we should be learning and should have learned, does help. What that visit can do is reinforce the things the kids are learning in school, make them have a better feel of that part of our history, make that part of history more real to the children (by making them somehow feel that they’ve lived those times), and so on.

    I’ve always liked to learn history, and I’ve always loved visiting historical places. But I have to admit, my knowledge of history is limited, mainly because for some reason, the teaching of history in my time had been focused on the whats, whens, wheres, and whos of things. I hated memorizing, so I did not care much about those things. But I like understanding the whys, the hows, the implications and effects of things, so now that I am out of school, I am trying to re-learn history the way I think it should have been taught. And that, I think, is one of the reasons I like visiting historical places.

    (So, you’ve lost your head Buddy. Hahaha!)

    I still think knowing our national anthem and respecting it means something. Of course, being a good citizen and having a good government counts a lot more than simply having citizens and leaders who can sing the national anthem very well. But why chose if you can have both?

  4. Jean Riva
    March 21, 2008

    This is an extremely interesting read. I’m glad I checked out your blog.

  5. brainteaser
    March 22, 2008

    Hello Jean! I am honored you’ve come! Thank you for gracing my blog with your presence.

    I’ve been to your place… your posts are awesome. I’ve learned a lot from you.

    God bless, my friend…

  6. Salve
    March 23, 2008

    It was a very interesting trip. And I’m glad we did it.

  7. brainteaser
    March 26, 2008

    Hi Salve! True, girl. Saan tayo next, Bataan? Jejejejejee!

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