Monday, April 15, 2013

Majestic Bataan - An Educational Tour

Majestic. A word I barely use on my daily life as a traveler  Majestic meaning “greatness or splendor of quality or character”; only to be used in things that show a huge amount of grand. The field trip that we had last March was one of the most interesting adventures I had in the Philippines. It wasn't just an ordinary trip to a science museum or an amusement park like we used to do when we were younger; it was a trip to remember and to discover things about our history.

Waking up early is one of the hardest things to do for me. I never wake up early for anything, it’s either I stay up the whole night and get ready for a trip or sleep and wake up too late to the point I would be missing the trip. However, this trip is one of the exceptions; I slept early (since I was exhausted from school) and woke up early as well. To me it was a miracle; maybe I was just too excited.

Our first stop was the famous Mt. Samat in Bataan. Mt. Samat is a national shrine dedicated to the loss of Americans and Filipinos during World War II against the Imperial Japanese Army headed by General Yamashita. We first went to the museum which was the most interesting part of the area. In the museum, you could see how sad and brutal the lives of the Filipinos and Americans under the Japanese regime were. On the other hand, I somehow felt proud to see these fellow Filipino soldiers, comfort women, children and civilians fought and stood up for our country. Without these kinds of people, we will not be the people who we are now. We would probably under communism or some kind of strong regime acting as puppets.

The photographs during the World War II and the Bataan Death March show a strong message to the people who are here now. I was affected by these photographs like what I said earlier. There was a moment when I talked to the guard of the museum and asked, “Did any Japanese tourists visit this museum already?” He replied, “Yes.” My eyes grew bigger, my love for curiosity ignited. “How did they react when they saw all of these?” For a moment, I was excited what he was about to answer. “They were shocked.” He said, “They didn’t know that the Japanese Imperial Army did this, some even bowed down before Yamashita’s photograph which you could see there.” He lifted up his finger and pointed where it was. First thought on my mind, “Wow, the Japanese of today are not fully educated by their country’s past. Are they ashamed of it?

Different thoughts pondered through my head. Thoughts that only Japanese people can answer, though I’ve always thought they knew about it! Based on my experience, most Japanese people are humble towards the Filipinos. I thought they were like this to have a good image about them and to forget about the past; or they are just simply kind on their own ways.

After the museum visit, we went up to the shrine and got a great view of the sea. It was quite foggy at the moment so we didn't really see much of it.

Our final and most awaited last stop was Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar in Bagnac, Bataan. At the moment we saw the beautiful old houses we all shouted “Finally!” ‘This is it, Filipino living at it’s finest’ – I thought. We were welcomed by the staff in their traditional Filipino clothes and the famous heart-warming Filipino smiles. They assisted us in to our beautiful rooms, it was great. The feeling was mutual as I was showing happiness throughout the time.   

After settling into our very native prestigious Filipino homes, we all gathered around with the tour guide as she started elaborating the different homes in this wonderful place. She explained to us one by one the origin and the history of the house. She also included how it was constructed and from which materials were these traditional houses were made out from. Each house tells a story of the past, whether it was a house of a woman who got locked up in her own room for cheating on her husband, to an old abortion house now turned to a chapel. Each house tells an interesting tale from which history enthusiasts will be very amused once they hear about it.  

The whole trip was nurturing and I really did enjoy learning history outside the classroom. I also got the chance to bond with my schoolmates who I've never really bonded with outside the school before. Not only the trip broaden my knowledge but also the friendship we have for each other. The educational tour is something I would call majestic. Why? The places that we went to were absolutely breathtaking and the history we learned were so interesting that I’m sure you can only find a small amount of these information in textbooks.