Planning to Retire Soon!

If you are planning to retire in the Philippines soon, I suggest you visit several excellent websites on pro's and cons of retiring in the Philippines. However if you want to retire in the provinces, where life is simple, standard of living cheaper, less traffic congestion and pollution, availability of fresh seafood and vegetables compared to the big cities, my island province is the place for you! If this is your first time in my site, welcome. Please do not forget to read the latest national and international news in the right side bar of this blog. Some of the photos and videos on this site, I do not own. However, I have no intention on the infringement of your copyrights. The photo above is the front yard of Chateau Du Mer-Our Retirement Home in Boac, Marinduque, Philippines

Monday, October 31, 2011

Today is Halloween-Time for Witches, Nonos and Ghosts

Photo from Marinduqueno, mandin

This last couple of days, if you go to the retail stores and shopping malls here in Northern California, you will see that most of the decorations are now about Halloween costumes, candies, masks and other items for the Halloween Night Festivities.

In the Philippines, the Internet and newspapers are already filled with stories about witches (aswang), capri (giant people), or elves(nonos) as well as stories about ghosts and apparitions. Superstitions and folklores are part of life in the Philippines, specially in the provinces.

When I was growing up way back in the late 1940s, my parents and relatives had been telling me of stories about aswang (flying witches) visiting homes in the middle of the night and looking for pregnant women, so they could suck the fetus from their stomach or for beautiful babies so they could eat their liver. The aswang takes the form of an animal perhaps a black flying cat during the night. But during the day, they lived a normal life and looked like an average person or perhaps even a beautiful young lady.

One way of discouraging the aswangs to your homes is to put garlic in all the windows as well as amulets. Other superstitions are about the giant people called capri. There are two kinds, the white (the good one) and the black (the evil one). Opposite to this are the small people, the elves or Nono as known in Marinduque. The Nonos lived on big trees in the jungles or even in your back yard. They may be harmless if you left them alone. But if you disturbed their territory, be prepared for bad luck, calamities or sickness.

One of the most popular beliefs and folklore in Marinduque are the existence of Nonos . Last year, the 12-year old son of our caretaker disappeared for about 4 hours. When he returned he told us that a group of elves had captured him. He said they were friendly and told him that we should not cut the big balete tree in our backyard.

There are also stories about ghosts ( white lady apparition) and witches. In Iloilo, my town of birth, there is one town where there are a lot of witches according to the residents of the neighboring towns. However, there are no proofs that this is true.

In my resort property here in Amoingon, Boac, Marinduque some of our neighbors claimed that once in a while in a moonless night they have seen an apparition of a white lady. The white lady is supposed to protect the property from robbers and intruders. She is supposed to be the ghost of my mother-in-law who loved the beach resort and its gardens. The neighbors are scared of this apparition. So far, I have not seen this lady in the flowing white dress.

With regards to the Nonos, even though I really do not believe in their existence, I still say TABI PO NONO (Excuse me, Nono) when passing under the trees and bridges in my property at night and after sunset. Even my 4 year old grand daughter from Sacramento, has learned of this phrase. We told her of the TABI PO NONO phrase four years ago, during our golden wedding anniversary celebration. The funny part is, when they were in Boracay (an island resort) a week later for a vacation, she said the same phrase while passing a bridge at the Boracay Regency Hotel, where her mother and grandmother were staying. Hurrah to the memory of a 4-year old.

Witches, nonos and ghosts are part of life in the Philippines not only during Halloween but also the whole year round. I hope you have a super-scary Halloween night!

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Moriones Festival 2011 Slide Show

Good Friday Procession, Boac, Marinduque, Philippines

Moriones Festival,Holy Week in Marinduque 2011 Slideshow | TripAdvisor™

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Writing Update with ViewsHound

My New FaceBook Profile Picture-Me and Harrison Ford
Just an update for today. I have now 46 articles, over 9500 views, and 6 followers. I am still hoping for the silver, bronze and a readers award. Target goal: 50 articles by the end of the year!

The power is within you | ViewsHound

Monday, October 24, 2011

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Baby Sitting for Andy and Coffee Videos

Image from

These are two videos with a gay theme. So, if your are homophobic do not watch these two videos. But if you want to laugh, the first video is a must view. Enjoy!

Friday, October 21, 2011

Modern Heroes of the Philippines

Image from ( OFW's are the Modern Heroes of the Philippines)

Around 8.6 million to 11 million overseas Filipinos are the estimated count worldwide or about 11% of the total population of the Philippines are the Filipino modern heroes. Without the remittances of these OFW's, the Philippine economy would not look as bright and positive compared to the economy of other countries.

More than a million Filipinos try their luck each year to work abroad through overseas employment agencies and other programs.

A majority of them are women applying as domestic helpers and personal service workers. Others emigrate and become permanent residents of other countries. Overseas Filipinos often work as doctors, physical therapists, nurses, accountants, IT professionals, engineers, architects,entertainers, technicians, teachers, military servicemen, seafarers, students, caregivers, domestic helpers and maids.

Remittances sent by OFWs to the Philippines contribute to the country's economy, with a value of more than US$10 billion in 2005. This makes the country the fourth largest recipient of remittances with India, China, and Mexico in the top list. OFW remittances represent 13.5% of the country's GDP, the largest in proportion to the domestic economy among the four countries.

In 2008, overseas Filipinos sent US$15.9 billion worth of remittances to the Philippines, up from the US$14.4 billion in 2007, and US$13 billion in 2006.

And as we read this, there are also thousands of Marinduque OFWs out there sacrificing away from their families in order that they may provide them good life
and better future and their remittance helping to boost Philippine economy.

Note: On a personal level about 80% of the clients of Chateau Du Mer Conference Hall are Marinduque's OFW's and their relatives.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

A Sad story of a Man-Joke of the Week!

Image from

I received the following article from my e-mail last week. Let me know if you like this story!

A sad story of a man:

Last week was his birthday. His wife didn't greet him. His parents forgot and so did his kids.

He went to to work. Even his colleagues did not greet him. As he entered in his office, his secretary said "Happy Birthday Boss..!" He felt special. His secretary asked him for lunch.

After lunch his secretary invited him to her flat. They went there his secretary said, "do you mind if i go into the bedroom for a minute..?" He said ok in a sexy mood.

She came out five minutes later with a cake and

his wife

his parents

his kids,

his friends and colleagues. All screaming. "SURPRISE..!"

And he was waiting on the sofa..


Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Indiana Jones and Me vs Harrison Ford

The above photo was taken in Las Vegas about 15 years ago. Do you recognized the face of Indiana Jones from the movie Temple of Doom? I looked good and young then!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Palawan Subterranean River Park

The Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park is located about 50 kilometers north of the city of Puerto Princesa, Palawan, Philippines. The National Park is located in the Saint Paul Mountain Range on the northern coast of the island. It is bordered by St. Paul Bay to the north and the Babuyan River to the east. The City Government of Puerto Princesa has managed the National Park since 1992. It is also known as St. Paul's Subterranean River National Park, or St. Paul Underground River. The entrance to the Subterranean River is a short hike from the town of Sabang.

GEOGRAPHY ►► The park has a limestone karst mountain landscape with an 8.2 kilometer navigable underground river. A distinguishing feature of the river is that it winds through a cave before flowing directly into the South China Sea. It includes major formations of stalactites and stalagmites, and several large chambers. The lower portion of the river is subject to tidal influences. Until the 2007 discovery of an underground river in Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula, the Puerto Princesa Subterranean River was reputed to be the world's longest underground river. The area also represents a habitat for biodiversity conservation. The site contains a full mountain-to-the-sea ecosystem and has some of the most important forests in Asia. It was inscribed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site on December 4, 1999.

FLORA ►► The Park has a range of forest formations representing eight of the thirteen forest types found in tropical Asia, namely forest over ultramafic soils, forest over limestone soils, montane forest, freshwater swamp forest, lowland evergreen tropical rainforest, riverine forest, beach forest, and mangrove forest. Researchers have identified more than 800 plant species from 300 genera and 100 families. These include at least 295 trees dominated by the dipterocarp type of species. In the lowland forest, large trees such as the Dao (Dracontomelon dao), Ipil (Intsia bijuga), Dita (Alstonia scholaris), Amugis (Koordersiodendrum pinnatum), and Apitong (Dipterocarpus gracilis) are common. Beach forest species include Bitaog (Calophyllum inophyllum), Pongamia pinnata, and Erynthia orientalis. Other notable plant species include Almaciga (Agathis philippinensis), Kamagong (Diospyros pulganensis) Pandan (Pandanus sp.) Anibong, and Rattan ('Calamus sp.)

FAUNA ►► Birds comprise the largest group of vertebrates found in the Park. Of the 252 bird species known to occur in Palawan, a total of 165 species of birds were recorded in the park. This represents 67% of the total birds and all of the 15 endemic bird species of Palawan. Notable species seen in the park are the Blue-naped parrot (Tanygnathus lucionensis), Tabon scrub fowl (Megapodius cumunigii), Hill myna (Gracula religiosa), Palawan hornbill (Anthracoceros marchei), White breasted sea eagle (Halitutus leucogates ). There are also some 30 mammal species that have been recorded (Madulid, 1998). Most often observed in the forest canopy and along the shoreline feeding during low tide is the long-tailed macaque (Macaca fascicularis), the only primate found in the area. Other mammal species in the Park are the Bearded pig (Sus barbatus), Bearcat (Arctictis binturong), Palawan stink badger (Mydaus marchei) and the Palawan porcupine (Hystrix pumilus). 19 species of reptiles have been identified, eight of which are endemic (Madulid, 1998). Common species in the area include large predators like the Common reticulated python (Phython reticulatus), the Monitor lizard (Varanus salvator) and the green crested lizard (Bronchocoela cristatella). Amphibian fauna include ten species. The Philippine woodland frog (Rana acanthi) is the most dominant and frequently encountered. One species, Barbourula busuangensis, endemic to Palawan was also observed in the area. Notable are the nine species of bats, two species of swiftlets and whip spider (Stygophrynus sp.) found in the cave, and the Sea cow (Dugong dugon) and the Hawksbill sea turtle (Chelonia mydas) that feed in the coastal area of the Park.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Silent Monks singing Halleluja

I hope you enjoy the following video and the related videos in this set particularly the Meow duets( boys choir and animated cats)

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Marinduque Video and Chateau Du Mer

Amoingon Sunset from the Balcony of Chateau Du Mer Beach House

Thank You, Ms. Lisbeth Vergara and Jenecar Caponpon for listing Chateau Du Mer in the other attractions in the island.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Photo Memories of Pittsburgh, Pa-1959-1960

The following four photos were taken during my first winter and spring in the US in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, 1959-1960.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Sleepsong by Secret Garden with Lyrics

Front Driveway of Chateau Du Mer-not my secret garden
Its time for some music for relaxation. I hope you enjoy the following video.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

101 Things to do before you Die | ViewsHound

Chateau Du Mer Beach House-see item #72 in the list (Owning a beach house or a small island), Boac, Marinduque, Philippines
101 things to do before you die | ViewsHound

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

End of the World-10/21/11 or 12/21/11

Photo from

There is an Esoteric Agenda behind every facet of life that was once believed to be disconnected. There is an Elite faction guiding most every Political, Economic, Social, Corporate, some Non-Governmental or even Anti-Establishment Organizations. This film uses the hard work and research of professionals in every field helping to expose this agenda put the future of this planet back into the hands of the people.

The End of the World-October 21, 2011 or December 21, 2011?

Monday, October 10, 2011

The Power of Nicotine Addiction

Photo from
My sister-in-law, Bella(not her real name)is a retired public health and visiting nurse. She has practiced her profession for more than 25 years here in US and knows the health hazard of cigarettes. In her nursing career as a public health nurse, she had visited several patients in their homes who are dying of lung cancer due to smoking. But she can not quit smoking or may be just can not stop the habit. Her husband, Ben (not his real name) had tried every incentive to help her quit smoking. Ben even enrolled her to a smoking cessation clinic offered by his employer in the mid 1990's. Bella quit for six weeks after the clinic, but went back to smoking. She has tried quitting twice, but the power of nicotine addiction is just too hard to break. Ben tried to bribe her, a vacation to Aruba, Spain and Cancun, bought her a grand piano, but she is still smoking today. Ben tried to nag her, but it does not work and so he finally give up. As a result of smoking, she acts much much older than her chronological age. She is only 70 but is physically weaker than our 87 year old aunt in the Philippines. So based on statistics, she will be lucky, if she survives until she reached 80 years old. Ben on the other hand do not smoke. Bella needs a wheel chair when they travel to the Philippines annually during their snow bird sojourn. Ben told me that Bella is happy when she smokes, so he stopped nagging her to quit. Ben just made it sure, that he does not breath second hand smoke, by not allowing Bella to smoke inside their house. Bella started smoking in the mid 1980's while she was in nursing school. She told Ben, she will not quit smoking even if she gets emphysema or lung cancer.

The "Power of Nicotine" addiction is indeed hard to fight. It overpowers and clouds the reasoning of an intelligent women who knows the hazard of cigarette smoking. If Bella dies of lung cancer, will Ben have the right to sue the tobacco companies for selling a hazardous and dangerous product? Any lawyers reading this article?

Do you know of a relative or friend addicted to cigarettes? Did your friend or relative survive beyond 80 years or older?

Friday, October 7, 2011

The Power is Within You

The Bataan Death March
Two years ago, I reached a positive step in my writing activities. I have my first article published (Marinduque: Ecotourism Capital of the Philippines) by last July 2009 The next day, my second article ( US Parks Encourage Tourism to National Parks and Monuments) was also published by this Citizen News Review-an on line newspaper/magazine. is an independent news organization that encourages citizens like me to contribute daily news and reviews on business, politics, health, science, technology, sports, arts, recreation and social issues from all parts of the world. will publish articles on the above topics or on any subject that in the judgment of the author will make our world more livable and better. So why do I consider this event a positive step in my writing career. Let me explain why.

I never had any formal training on news writing or creative writing and English is not my mother language. My expertise is in science and new drugs development and regulations. My first writing experience was during my high school days way back in the late 1940's in a small rural high school in the Philippines, when I was elected Editor of our high school newsletter published quarterly. My whole college experience was all devoted to science and chemistry so that by early 1960's, I obtained my masters and doctorate degrees in Pharmaceutical Chemistry from the University of Illinois in Chicago. Then there is the period of almost 38 years, working as a bench chemist for three major Pharmaceutical companies and later as a Chemistry Team Leader for the Food and Drug Administration(FDA) supervising the work of five chemists with doctorate degrees. My job in FDA required reviewing new drug applications submitted by pharmaceutical companies worldwide in the field of Anti-infective drug products ( antibiotics, anti-malarial and anti-parasitic drug products). My professional career did not require the ability of writing news. However it did require, the ability to write concise and simple scientific reports, easily understood by both non-scientists and scientifically trained personnel.

After my retirement from FDA in 2002, I decided to start blogging, just to keep busy. Surprisingly, I enjoyed writing articles about my life experiences, and about my second home in Marinduque, as well as other miscellaneous topics, such as retirement, travel, hobbies, medical mission management and volunteerism. I also started creating a website for my small beach resort business( Chateau Du Mer) in the Philippines. Today, I have 9 blog sites on tourism, retirement opportunities in the Philippines, life in general in the Philippines and United States. I have also completed writing my autobiography that I dedicated to my six grandchildren here in the US. In this autobiography, I also discussed the lives of my parents who were born in the early 1900 in the Philippines. In my dedication to my children and grand children, I indicated that knowing their roots should give them a better understanding and clearer picture of their future.

Prior to the publication of my first article on, I have three articles about the Philippines that had been published by a private on line magazine publisher in the Philippines. Today, I have written more than one thousand articles in my 8 blog sites. Prior to the publication of my first news article, I feel just like an ordinary blogger. Once in a while, I get comments from a couple of visitors in my site that they enjoy my style of writing but still feel like a frustrated writer.

When I wrote in Face Book that I no longer feel like a frustrated writer but a full-pledged citizen journalist, my sister-in-law from Australia commented that any thing you want, you can accomplished, since the POWER IS WITHIN YOU. With this comment I feel motivated to write more news articles for and continue my blogging activities. I finished my third article( Revival of the Bataan Nuclear Power Plant (BNPP),Philippines and was publihed also on July, 2009.

Seven weeks ago, I discovered ViewsHound via my FaceBook account.I have submitted 36articles and 4 photographs. Thirty-one of my articles and all of my photographs have been published so far. I am enjoying writing for Viewshound. I have over 6500 views, and four followers at present. I have won a gold award($50)for my article on my childhood memories of the Japanese-American war in the Philippines. This award reinforced my feeling that I am now a full-pledged writer and not a frustrated blogger.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

My Favorite Four Classical Pieces

It has almost been a year when I posted four of my favorite classical pieces. Today it is high time to listen to classical music, just a break from reading my photo travels and war memories and about what is going on in Marinduque. Listening to classical music lowers my blood pressure and relaxes me and I forget all the problems of the world. How about you, do you have any favorite classical music? Does classical music relaxes you? Or are you bored and prefer rock and roll or Lady Gaga's music? I have Lady Gaga's music in my older post in this site also.

Tchaikovsky-None But the Lonely Heart
Do not forget to listen to other pieces in this set.

Shoztakovich-Romance (From the Gadfly)
There are other pieces in this set that is worth listening to.

Rachmaninov- Rhapsody from the Theme of Paganini

Chopin Waltz-Grand Valse Brillante

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

My Last Farewell- Mi Ultimo Adios-by Jose Rizal

Jose Rizal-national hero of the Philippines

I enjoy this video and like to share it with you today. This was written before he was executed by the Spaniards in 1896-two years before the Americans colonized the Philippines.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Ben Steele, Age 94-Survivor of the Bataan Death March

Photo from
The following article is about Ben Steele - the central character in the book, Tears in the Darkness by Michael and Elizabeth Norman. Ben Steele is now 94 years old. He is one of the only few remaining survivors of that catastrophic event in the history of the Philippines today-The Bataan Death March.

WWII POW uses artwork to counter dark memories

By Joe Nickell Missoulian | Posted: Monday, October 3, 2011 12:00 am

MISSOULA (AP) — Ben Steele remembers it all. He vividly recalls the faces of the dead and dying along the roadside as he marched with thousands of other American prisoners of war from the Bataan Peninsula to the city of Capas in the Philippines. He remembers the bits of fire-pit charcoal that he squirreled to his prison cell and used to draw pictures of his beloved Montana on the floor. He remembers the coal mines of Japan, and even his hazy visits to death’s doorstep.

Of course, it helps that he has pictures of those experiences from that dark period of World War II. But unlike today’s soldiers, who often travel through war zones with cameras strapped to their bodies, Steele’s photographic record is his sharp memory, and his pictures all flowed from his hand.

“I have very vivid memories of what went on, because it was a gruesome and difficult situation,” says Steele, at 94 one of the last remaining survivors of the infamous Bataan Death March in which Japanese soldiers forced more than 75,000 malnourished, exhausted, injured and sick American and Filipino prisoners of war to march more than 60 miles over the course of less than a week, leading to the deaths of thousands of prisoners.

“I have lots of images in my head,” Steele adds. “I could paint them for the rest of my life. I don’t have trouble recalling anything in there; I can recall dates in the camp that I can’t remember in my normal life since. I was impressed very deeply by it.”

Fame of their own

In the decades since World War II ended, Steele’s memories — translated to 11 oil paintings and 78 stark charcoal drawings — have taken on a fame of their own, not only because they are among the only images that exist of the march, but also because of their raw emotional power.

A number of the images were featured in “Tears in the Darkness,” a best-selling 2009 book about the march by Elizabeth and Michael Norman, which also features Steele as a central character.

Now, the vast majority of Steele’s images from the Bataan Death March are on display at the University of Montana’s Montana Museum of Art and Culture, where they have come to reside as part of the state-owned museum’s permanent collection.

“These images form such an important part of Montana’s cultural history,” said Brandon Reintjes, curator at the MMAC. “They have almost a mythic back-story to them, they convey such a powerful and important lesson in history, and they’re truly a reflection of a powerful artistic vision that I think inspires everyone who encounters them.”

Something of a miracle

Indeed, the mere existence of Steele’s paintings and drawings is something of a miracle. After entering the U.S. Army Air Corps at age 22, Steele found himself caught up in one of the first and most protracted land battles of the war in the Pacific, as U.S. and Filipino forces attempted to defend the peninsula of Bataan in the Philippines.

The 99-day battle ended with the surrender of 76,000 U.S. troops, including Steele. It was one of the worst defeats in American military history.

Steele survived the legendary Death March, and ultimately spent three-and-a-half years as a prisoner of war in the Philippines and Japan. Crippled by a combination of dysentery, pneumonia, malaria, blood poisoning and Beriberi, Steele came so close to death that he was read his last rites by priests on two occasions.

Drawing to maintain sanity

To maintain his sanity, Steele began drawing — first employing nothing but a charred stick on the bare concrete floor, and later on paper that fellow prisoners supplied him.

Reached earlier this month at his home in Billings, Steele said that those drawings literally saved him.

“I was awful sick and I thought I was going crazy, so I had to do something to occupy my mind,” he said. “So I started to draw on the floor.”

At first, Steele drew images of cowboys and mountain scenes from his home state of Montana. In an earlier interview with Reintjes, Steele described the depth of his longing for home during that time.

“I used to dream about Montana more than anything else, more than I did food — and I used to dream about food all the time,” he said.

Then, as other prisoners began to take notice of Steele’s pastime, they suggested he draw what he saw around him. So Steele began creating depictions of life in the camp - at first on the floor; then on paper, with pencils that were smuggled to him.

Steele was later transported to Japan, where he worked as a forced laborer in coal mines. During that time, he was kept too busy to draw.

In 1945, he was finally liberated. But his drawings were lost.

Drawings lost, then re-created

“When I went to Japan in ‘44, I left the drawings with a chaplain, thinking he would get out when the Philippines were retaken,” says Steele. “But when he did get out, the ship he was on was sunk by the American Navy, so the drawings went down in the China Sea.”

So, during his yearlong recuperation at a hospital in Spokane, Steele re-created the lost drawings and several paintings.

“I hated to lose those drawings, but I was lucky to get home in one piece myself,” he says today. “So it didn’t bother me all that much, and it gave me something to do during my recovery.”

Following his recovery, Steele pursued a degree at the Cleveland Institute of Art, where he studied with noted artists George Grosz, Hans Mueller and Clarence Van Duzer. After receiving teaching credentials from Kent State University and a Master of Art degree from the University of Denver in 1955, Steele became a professor of art at Montana State University-Billings.

Emphasis on realism

But despite all that exposure to the ever-transforming art trends of the 20th century, Steele continued to devote himself to a creative aesthetic that emphasizes realism, brutal as it may be. Over time, he created several more images from the Death March — images which he considers his most important works.

“I kind of felt an obligation to the guys who went through that, to illustrate what went on over there,” he says. “I wanted to tell the story.”

In that sense, Steele knows he is different from many World War II veterans, who on the whole were notorious for their reticence about speaking of what they had experienced on the battlefields of the Asian and European theaters.

But, he says, opening up about his experiences was an important step in his own life.

“I didn’t talk about my experiences for years; and I have friends who won’t talk about it still,” he says. “But when I did all these artworks, it kind of opened me up because I had to explain them. It got me to talk about it very freely. I didn’t have any choice but to talk about it after I did the artwork. I think it helps you to talk about it. Some people ask me how I can draw that stuff, but it’s very easy because it’s so vivid in my mind.”

Copyright 2011

Monday, October 3, 2011

Ben Steele Drawings of the Bataan Death March

Yesterday, I posted my review of the book on the Bataan Death March, Tears in the Darkness. The protagonist in the book is Ben Steele, a cowboy from Montana who became a painter and Professor of Art after the war. In the first video, Ben Steele sketches and drawings are shown with his own description of the events. The next four videos are professional videos of the Bataan Death March up to the Raid of Cabanatuan-saving the prisoners of war from the camp in early, 1945 just before the end of the war. I hope you enjoy the videos.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Tears in the Darkness-The Bataan Death March and its Aftermath

I have just finished reading the above book. It is the story of the Bataan Death March and its aftermath. It was written by Michael and Elizabeth Norman in 2009. I recommend the book to all Filipino-Americans who are history nuts and to all who are history enthusiasts of the Japanese-American war in the Philippines (1941-1945). As a son of a former Filipino-American guerilla defender of the Philippines from the Japanese invaders, the book reminds me of my childhood fears as well as the valor and heroism of all the 76,000 Americans and Filipinos who died and survived from the first major land battle of World War II: the battle for the Philippine peninsula of Bataan. I have still nightmares remembering the sufferings of the Filipino and American prisoners from the hands of the Japanese two days after reading this book. But it was worth my time relieving history and the story of heroism and survival of one cowboy named, Ben Steele. The book describes in detail the 41 months of starvation, dehydration, hard labor, deadly diseases, tortures, murder and journey on "hell ships" of the Filipino and American prisoners of war to the enemy's homeland. Here's a short video of the book.

The following is one of the many reviews of this book when it was published in 2009. It was written by Dwight Garner of the New York Times on June 17, 2009. He titled it "Revisiting Wartime: 66 miles of Cruelty".

“Tears in the Darkness” is authoritative history. Ten years in the making, it is based on hundreds of interviews with American, Filipino and Japanese combatants. But it is also a narrative achievement. The book seamlessly blends a wide-angle view with the stories of many individual participants. And at this book’s beating emotional heart is the tale of just one American soldier, a young cowboy and aspiring artist out of Montana named Ben Steele.

This story begins in earnest on Dec. 7, 1941, the day the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor. Japan had planned to attack American military bases in the Philippines, where the peninsula of Bataan lies, at the same time, but its bombers and fighter planes were delayed by fog, eliminating the element of surprise, Japan thought. But when its planes flew over, eight hours after Pearl Harbor, the American planes sat on runways, inexplicably, like sitting ducks. It was carnage.

Two weeks later Japan invaded the Philippines. The poorly trained and untested American and Filipino forces were overmatched; they eventually retreated into the mountainous jungles of Bataan for a brutal last stand, one that the Normans, who are husband and wife, describe as “a modern Thermopylae.”

After four months of intense fighting, the Allied forces — their ranks decimated by hunger, dysentery and malaria, and with no relief or reinforcements in sight — surrendered. “No American general had ever surrendered such a force,” the Normans write, “76,000 men, an entire army.”

The authors are sympathetic toward Ned King, the surrendering American major general, who was beloved by his men. (General King made it clear to his soldiers that he had surrendered, not they.) Mr. and Ms. Norman reserve their scorn for the initial Allied general overseeing Bataan, Douglas MacArthur, whom they accuse of not leading from the field and later abandoning his men there.

What is now known as the Bataan Death March began on April 10, 1942. Some 76,000 soldiers, many already close to death, were forced to walk 66 miles during the hottest season of the year — there were almost no buildings along the way, no trees, no shade — with little food and almost no water.

It was called a death march for a simple reason: if you stopped marching, you were killed, by bayonet or rifle. There were many other ways to die during the Bataan Death March; it was a spree of arbitrary brutality. For sport, Japanese soldiers fractured skulls with their rifle butts. Japanese tanks ran over men who fell. Good Samaritans who tried to help fallen comrades were beaten or stabbed. Men were forced to bury others alive.

To be on this march, one soldier said, was what it must feel like to “come to the end of civilization.” Some 11,000 died along the way to the ultimate destination, a prison camp.

What’s remarkable about this story, for Ben Steele and many others, was that it was just the beginning of the horrors that awaited them as Japanese prisoners of war. There are accounts here of train journeys in deadly, overheated box cars; of foul prison camps and hospitals filled with dying men; of being placed into the holds of transport ships like “pickles jammed into a jar”; of work details that were their own kinds of death marches. Many men who didn’t die simply lost their minds.

There are many Japanese voices in “Tears in the Darkness.” Mr. and Ms. Norman don’t excuse Japan’s actions, but place them in careful context. Japanese soldiers, they write, were the products of “a closed world of violence where men were subjected to the most brutal system of army discipline in the world.” These soldiers “had been savaged to produce an army of savage intent.”

Mr. Norman is a Vietnam veteran and formerly a reporter for The New York Times; Ms. Norman’s books include “Women at War: The Story of Fifty Military Nurses Who Served in Vietnam.” In this book they step back, at regular intervals, to explain dispassionately what it was like to undergo the experiences these men went through.

What are the physics of suffocation? How does a bomb blast actually kill a person? What exactly does lack of water do to a human body? “Tears in the Darkness” is a grim and comprehensive catalog of man’s inhumanity to man.

In the end, though, “Tears in the Darkness” is a book about heroism and survival. All along you are glued, out of the corner of your eye, to one story, Ben Steele’s. If you aren’t weeping openly by the book’s final scenes, when he is at last able to call home and let his family know that he is still alive after more than three years “missing in action,” during which time this thin young man lost 50 pounds, then you have a hard crust of salt around your soul".

Note: I purchased this book last week, hard bound for $6.95 ( bargained price) from Barnes and Nobles. It is also available on line on Amazon new or used.
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