Thursday, March 26, 2009

Things I saw on my 6:45 a.m. walk today. Jeff wrote some things about this area.

The Manor at Camp John Hay - Baguio, Philippines

From WWI to WWII to the Korean War and the Vietnam war, Camp John Hay was the oasis of peace in the wilderness of war. This Mile High retreat in the northern mountains of Luzon island is now the summer vacation spot of the Philippines. The typical heat of this tropical country is left behind the further you climb until you get the sense of Colorado in summer time. Cool evenings and glorious days.

Really cool chess set in lobby of hotel

It seems everything grows here. A walk over the rolling hills is quite a work out but well worth it for the views you will see.

Simply beautiful

When I was a boy growing up, this was the one place my family was able to truly escape to for a vacation. When the sun came up, it was father and sons, headed for the golf course. There was always a heavy morning dew on the ground and many days, fog blanketed the lower lying areas. It seemed impossibly calm, quiet and cool, to this lowland, city slicker raised in a city of 14 million.

Jack Nicklaus' Golden Bear International redesigned this course a few years back and everyone says it is awesome. However, I will miss the old layout that I knew so well. Back in those days they would let us bring our two German Shepherds, Apache and Raider, to run while we golfed. On holes 8 and 9 there were some agressive blue birds that didn't like our dogs and without fail, every day, they would swoop down and peck our dog's heads while screeching out a warning.

And... I will miss the 3rd hole, the infamous, dastardly, diabolical "Cardiac Hill." The green was at least 400 feet ABOVE the tee box! It was so steep that there was a large hemp rope that wound around pulleys and would literally pull the golfers up the hill. In those days there were no golf carts either. They would not have been able to navigate the extreme hills. Good thing Cardiac Hill was early on in the round because if it were later, I am sure there would be some that would have just said, "Forget about it!! I ain't doing that!!!"
One day my dad and I were on the tee box waiting for the sun to come up and we finished out 54th hole of the day as the sun was going down. What were we thinking?!!? 3 times up Cardiac Hill in one day?

I remember that one day my brother Gerry had an errant shot and it skipped across the road at a high rate of speed (maybe this very road) and smacked into the back of an unsuspecting jogger. "Wack!!!" We could hear the sound of that ball hitting the poor lady in her back from a long way off.
When we got to the lady, she lay on the side of the road, in the grass, writhing in pain. I heard Gerry say, "Shoot!! That's my math teacher!!"
And it was. Gerry has some 'splanin' to do.

On the way up the winding road to Baguio you are greeted by many sights. One of them are waterfalls. (Not like this man made one, but real torrents spouting out of various mountains and cliffs.

I'm so glad they posted that sign....

Also, on the road to Baguio, you look over the edge, (no guard rails in many places) and can see the rocky ravine so far below. You can see the mangled, rusting remains of buses, jeepeny's and cars that sure would have appreciated some guard rails.

Brenda literally anointed all four bus tires with oil before she got on. She also found a way to sneakily anoint the bus driver with oil. He didn't know what that oily spot on his back was, but vaguely remembers a white lady clumsily tripping over something and her hand hitting his back. He thinks to himself, "The weird thing is that she said, 'In Jesus Name.'" as she stumbled.

There are many legends of Japanese gold bried up in these far,
blue mountains. In fact, as legend has it, President Ferdinand Marcos,
(husband of the woman with all the shoes) purchased his way to power
in the early 1960s with some of this fabled treasure. It does make sense
since this former WWII solider, who had no great political connections,
family wealth, or power, could suddenly, one day have enough money to
do ANYTHING he wanted.
I heard from an old man who claims to have seen that very treasure
with his own eyes that there was a solid gold Buddha that must have
weighed a ton or more and gems and artifacts from all over the South

In the closing months of World War II, in the Philippines, several of Japan's highest ranking imperial princes hid tons of looted gold bullion and other stolen treasure in caves and tunnels, to recover later. This was the wealth of 12 Asian countries, accumulated over thousands of years that they had robbed in the early years of the war. Expert teams accompanying Japan's armed forces had systematically emptied treasuries, banks, factories, private homes, pawn shops, art galleries, and stripped ordinary people, while Japan's top gangsters looted Asia's underworld and its black economy. When American tanks were close, the chief engineers of those vaults were given a farewell party 67 metres underground in Tunnel 8 in the mountains of Luzon, stacked with row after row of gold bars. As the evening progressed, they drank great quantities of sake, sang patriotic songs and shouted banzai (long life)."He went on to say, "At midnight, General Yamashita Tomoyuki and the princes slipped out, and dynamite charges were set off in the access tunnels, entombing the engineers. Their vaults would remain secret."
Apparently the young Ferdinand Marcos was watching from his hideout as this drama was being played out, and years later, it financed him to power.

Now imagine a young boy, (me) growing up hearing of stories like this, from old men
over faded and worn chess tables, on countless evenings... oh yea, when I looked out
cross those mountains I wondered every time, "I wonder if I am looking at one of those
sights right now." Gold. What an allure it has.
I must admit that at time I might still might wonder if I am looking at the very spot
where those treasure tunnels were.

The history between the Philippines and America is long and complex, like crazy
cousins who love each other but at times, MAN do they bug each other! For the most
part, the love between the Filipino and the American is strong. WWII saw some of the
greatest stories of loyalty and dedication being on exhibition between the Filipino and
American soldier. Their mutual respect was high and the Filipino Scouts were some
of the most courageous fighters in the entire war, according to those who fought beside

Statue of Abraham Lincoln

Manuel Quezon

The path I took on my walk this morning.