Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Week 20 - Year One

Beautiful things come to us when we need them most.

I've been trying to write about this thought over the past week, desperately attempting to coincide with our anniversary.

I've failed.

For some incomprehensible reason, I've ran into a brick wall at each attempt. I've given it much thought for the past few days (and I swear I really did).

Maybe it's a bit of a cop-out (yet I'll never admit it squarely), but I realized that perhaps it's because I've written little things over the past year - snippets and notes that I'm pretty sure I can't really remember how to decrypt anymore (hah).

If there's anything to be said to sum things up (and something I could share with the world), it's that the promise of easily walking the elysian fields of perfection does not (and should never) define a relationship.

It's the acceptance that there will be happy days and there will be slightly sad ones (and there will be plenty days in-between) that makes it a journey of personal and mutual growth. And that's okay, because it is the belief that both people are working towards a net balance in the happy ones that makes it all worthwhile.

And speaking of journeys, a whole bunch of us headed for Corregidor last Saturday. It was a guided tour (from Sun Cruises) and I must admit that it was much more interesting than what I expected.

Pictures, a quick summary and whatnot after the cut, as always.

After an hour-and-a-half ferry ride, we arrived at Corregidor under the sweltering summer sun where we were led to our buses hosted by the tour guide guy Kuya Juan (or Joe for the expats who were with us).

Corregidor, dubbed The Rock, was one of the most important locations in the World War II Pacific Theatre. Two major battles marked two very different turning points during the war - the first being the Fall of Bataan during 1942 which marked the start of Japanese occupation and the second being the battle for its recapture in 1945 which was key to the liberation of Manila (and in turn the entire country).

It doesn't really look like much at first glimpse (which obviously isn't the case) but Corregidor holds more secrets to those with a keen eye, such as a tunnel hidden amongst the sea caves which the Imperial forces used to launch attacks using their suicide boats.

War memorials littered the island, commemorating the thousands who have lost their lives in trying to retake this piece of rock in the middle of the ocean. Somehow, it reminded me of Carl Sagan's thoughts on the Pale Blue Dot.

"From this distant vantage point, the Earth might not seem of any particular interest. But for us, it's different. Consider again that dot. That's here. That's home. That's us. On it everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives. The aggregate of our joy and suffering, thousands of confident religions, ideologies, and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilization, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every mother and father, hopeful child, inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every "superstar," every "supreme leader," every saint and sinner in the history of our species lived there – on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam."

It's a terrifying thought, really, to know that for most of history humanity has always been its own worst enemy - and Corregidor is one such grim reminder of the horrors of war. To think that a lot of our resources are spent (and are still being spent) to deter us from destroying ourselves, that we spend a lot to protect ourselves from being destroyed by members of our species who, at the very least, should know how it feels to be human.

Gun batteries littered the island, each one meant to protect it as a bastion of freedom in the Far East. Many remain intact, while others were restored only to the point that they were found post-war, like relics from a long forgotten era.

The ruins speak of the same stories. Barracks, housing facilities, theatres and other amenities dot the paths. Unlike most places in the Philippines, Corregidor was mostly devoid of a civilian population, save for a few families of the officers who lived there. For the most part, the island was no man's land - a battlefield of war.

One of the more interesting parts of our tour was an off-the-book visit to a cross-shaped building, which was apparently once a field hospital. According to our guide, overnight visitors were encouraged to visit the place to hunt for ghosts. At night.

If there is any consolation, one thing that Corregidor teaches us is that as long as there are people who have a heart to oppose tyranny, the idea of freedom will carry on like an eternal flame. Are these Americanized values? Perhaps.

But I believe that people the world over want such things.

Free will, after all, is human nature.

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