Manila American Cemetery and Memorial for those who gave their lives.
The Manila American Cemetery and Memorial, what an immaculate place, quiet, serene, peaceful, all the things you would expect a cemetery to be, but I guess this was different, mainly because it is in Manila, where the pace is frantic, horns blow, masses of people head in different directions. At the Manila American Cemetery there is order, it is like an oasis from the outside world.
Where is the Manila American Cemetery?
The Manila American Cemetery and Memorial is in Fort Bonifacio just outside Makati City in Manila, Philippines. From Manila proper it is about 10 km southeast, you will probably go through Forbes Park, the exclusive residential estate, to get there.
Like any travel in Manila, how long it will take you will depend on the time of the day and the traffic, it could take anywhere between 35 and 50 minutes but I would say an average would be 45 minutes. The quickest way back to Manila would be past the Nino Aquino International Airport in Paranaque.
If you ask any taxi driver they should be able to take you to the Manila American Cemetery. Be sure you ask the taxi driver to wait for you, there is parking for the taxi behind the memorial, they will not let you park outside the office, which is just inside the front gates.
When you arrive at the front gates a security guard will approach you and ask you for some identification, usually a passport, I didn't bring mine with me as I always have it locked in the hotel safe. The guard did not appear to be bothered, but I did have to sign in. The guard then gave directions for the taxi to park at the back of the memorial. I left the taxi to park at the back and walked.
Manila American Cemetery - The Site
The Manila American Cemetery is huge, in fact it is the largest in area of all the cemeteries built and administered by the American Battle Monuments Commission. It also has the dubious honour of having the largest number of graves, 17,206 and the largest number of missing persons, 36,282, who are all recorded on the tablets on the hemicycles in the Memorial.
The Cemetery is located on a slightly raised plateau and covers 152 acres, on a clear day if you look to the east you can catch glimpses of Laguna de Bay.
Once you are inside the gates of the Manila American Cemetery you come face to face with the Plaza, as you can see in the photo above and a small fountain. From the Plaza to the Memorial is what they call the Central Mall, which has a grassed medium strip, you can also see the mahogany trees lining the roadway. Off the Central Mall, roads lead off in a circular direction through the gravesites. There are 11 grave areas or plots surrounding the Memorial.
Manila American Memorial
At the northern end of the Manila American Memorial or the furthest end to which you enter, is the Chapel. From either side of the Chapel two hemicycles stretch in a semi circle and almost meet at the stairs at the end of the Central Mall, which you can see in the photo above.
The two hemicycles contain 24 pairs of fin or tablet walls, as you can see in the photo above. On each fin or tablet is inscribed the names and particulars of 36, 282 of the missing, who gave there lives for their country. At each end of the two hemicycles are rooms. In these rooms are twenty five large mosaic maps which recall the battles of the Pacific, China, India and Burma. Carved in the floor of the hemicycles are the seals of the US states and territories.
The western hemicycle lists the names of the United States Navy and part of the missing US Marine Corps.
The eastern hemicycle lists the names of the missing United States Army and Air Forces, the United States Coast Guard and part of the missing United States Marine Corps.
Anyone with some time on there hands in Manila should have a look at the Manila American Cemetery and Memorial, it well worth it.