WESTERN AND EASTERN VISAYAS

WESTERN AND EASTERN VISAYAS

Western Visayas consists of the islands of Panay and Guimaras and the western half of Negros. The regional center is Iloilo City. Its provinces are: Aklan, Antique, Capiz, Guimaras, Iloilo and Negros Occidental.

THe Eastern Visayas consists of the islands of Leyte, Samar and Biliran. The regional center is Tacloban City. Its provinces are: Biliran, Leyte, Southern Leyte, Eastern Samar, Northern Samar AND Samar Scholars have argued that the region of Mimaropa and the province of Masbate are all part of the Visayas in line with the non-centric view. This is contested by a few politicians in line with the Manila-centric view.

Iloilo

Iloilo Province (450 kilometers south of Manila) is located in the center of the Philippine archipelago and is the gateway to the Western Visayas. The province covers 5,000 square kilometers and is home to about three million people and has a population density of 390 people per square kilometerThe province comprises the southeastern part of Panay Island. Iloilo is composed of two cities and 42 municipalities. It is divided into five (5) congressional districts. It has 1,720 barangays.

Iloilo is situated between Iloilo and Batiano rivers forming an angle of a nose. Hence, its old name “Ilong-Ilong” which means “noselike”. Mountain ranges with peaks over 2,000 meters high ft. provide natural boundaries between Iloilo and Antique on the west and Capiz on the north. The rest of mainland Iloilo is largely plain with interspersing upland portions.

Iloilo City is the commercial and cultural center and capital of Iloilo province. Located on the southeastern part of Iloilo Strait, it fans out from a port that been important for foreign trade since 1855. The Spanish settlement, there was frequently raided during the 16th and 17th centuries by the Moros (Moors). Although it suffered some destruction during the Japanese occupation in World War II, most of its old churches and buildings from the Spanish era are still intact. Iloilo City's population is around 450,000, making one of the larger cities in the Philippines. It has shopping malls and department stores.

Iloilo’s climate is hot and humid with two pronounced seasons — the rainy season from June to September, and the dry season from October to May. Hiligaynon (Ilonggo) is the main dialect spoken in Iloilo. English and Tagalog are also widely spoken and understood especially in urban areas. Rice is the major crop. Fish and marine products are an important source of income for many residents of the province. Traditional products include sugar, coco oil, and lime products. Among the also non-traditional products are processed food, fruits and vegetables, gifts and furniture

Tourist Information: Regional Office VI, Western Visayas Regional Tourism Center, Capitol Ground Bonifacio Drive, 5000 Iloilo City, Tel: (6333) 337 5411 / 509 3550, Fax: (6333) 335 0245, e-mail: deptour6@mozcom.com, Website: www.visitmyphilippines.com

Santo Tomas de Villanueva Church in Miag-ao, Iloilo

Santo Tomas de Villanueva Church in Miag-ao, Iloilo is one four Baroque Churches of the been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Built of local yellow-orange sandstone, the large fortress-church was completed in 1797. The church withstood typhoons and earthquakes, but it burned twice: first was during the revolution against Spain in 1898 and the second was during the Philippine-American War a few years later.

The church of Santo Tomàs de Villanueva in Miag-ao is among the best examples in the Philippines of the “fortress baroque” style. The church stands on the highest elevation of the town. The squatness of the church, the massive pair of bell towers and the angled buttresses strengthen its fortress image.

The façade of the church is a Filipino masterpiece. Unknown master carvers incised its entire surface in the high relief. The sumptuous carving on the facade is probably the pinnacle of Filipino naïf where local craftsmen abandon all restraint to reinterpret western decorative styles in the local folk idiom. The church of Santo Tomàs de Villanueva is one of the best examples of the fusion of the western Baroque style embellished with Filipino folk motifs.

Baroque Churches of the Philippines

Four Baroque churches in the Philippines built by the Spanish in the late 16th to 18th centuries — located in Manila, Santa Maria, Paoay and Miag-ao — were designated a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2013 for their architectural style, a unique reinterpretation of European Baroque by Chinese and Philippine craftsmen. According to UNESCO: “The Baroque Churches of the Philippines is a serial inscription consisting of four Roman Catholic churches constructed between the 16thand the18th centuries in the Spanish period of the Philippines. They are located in separate areas of the Philippine archipelago, two at the northern island of Luzon, one at the heart of Intramuros, Manila, and the other in the central Visayas island of Iloilo.

“This group of churches established a style of building and design that was adapted to the physical conditions in the Philippines and had an important influence on later church architecture in the region. The four churches are outstanding examples of the Philippine interpretation of the Baroque style, and represent the fusion of European church design and construction with local materials and decorative motifs to form a new church-building tradition. [Source: UNESCO]

“The common and specific attributes of the churches are their squat, monumental and massive appearance, which illustrates a fortress/protective-like character in response to pirates, marauders and to the geologic conditions of a country that is prone to seismic activities. The churches are made either of stone (tuff or coralline limestone), or brick, and consolidated with lime. They display specific features such as retablos (altars) of high Baroque style — (particularly seen in San Agustin Church, Intramuros), in the volutes of contrafuertes (buttresses) and in the pyramidal finials of wall facades — (particularly seen in Paoay Church), in wall buttresses separating criptocollateral chapels –(particularly seen in San Agustin Church, Intramuros) and in the iconography of the ornately decorated naïf/folk pediment expressing the local understanding of the life of Christ and demonstrated by the use of local elements (papaya, coconut and palm tree reliefs), and the depiction of Catholic Patron Saints (St. Christopher) dressed in local and traditional clothing (particularly seen in the Miagao Church). The fusion of styles is also seen in the construction of bell towers that are either attached to the main church structure (particularly seen in San Agustin, Intramuros and in Miagao churches) or detached from the main church (particularly seen in Paoay and Sta Maria churches) and lastly, in ceiling paintings in the tromp l’oeil style (particularly seen in San Agustin Church, Intramuros). The Baroque churches reflect excellent site planning principles following the Ley de las Indias (Laws of the Indies) enacted by Philip II in 1563 for all newly-discovered settlements within Spanish colonial territories.”

Leyte Island

Leyte (100 miles east of Cebu) is in the East Visayass and not visited by so many tourists. Covered by mountains and the seventh largest island in the Philippines, it is known mostly for its World War II battles and as the place where Imelda Marcos was born in 1930 and Douglas MacArthur stepped ashore on October 20, 1944 to fulfill his promise to return to the Philippines. MacArthur's return is commemorated on Red Beach at Palo with an international monument to world peace and 12-foot-high statues of MacArthur and his staff ankle-deep in a pool of water. Thus far, the garage where Imelda Marcos lived with her mother after her father went broke has not been restored. Leyte is among the Philippines’s most historic provinces. Magellan passed through the province en route to Cebu. It was also the site of a major uprising against the Spaniards.

Leyte is traversed by many low mountain ranges. From the northwestern section to the southeastern extremities extends a very rugged, almost impassable ridge. There are also many extinct volcanoes, the most important of which is Mahagnao. Some visitors to Leyte hike the 50-kilometer-long Leyte Nature Trail which starts in Ormoc and goes through the Mahangnao Volcano National Park and Lake Imelda National Park where there is a very large crater lake. It is rumored that this lake in Imelda Park is so big that it could hold all the shoes in Imelda's collection.

Leyte covers 7,367.7 square kilometers and is home to about 2.47 million people and has a population density of 324 people per square kilometer. It is bounded on the north by Carigara Bay, on the east by the San Juanico Strait and Leyte Gulf, on the west by the Visayan Sea and Ormoc Sea, and on the south by Southern Leyte. The terrain of the province is relatively flat to gently rolling and becoming mountainous and rough towards the center where the mountain ranges begins.

Leyte Island is comprised of two provinces; Leyte province and Southern Leyte Province, Leyte Province is composed of 49 towns and two cities, namely, Tacloban, the capital city, and Ormoc. Tacloban, is the most important seaport on the eastern coast while Ormoc City is the primary outlet on the western coast. Heavy rains occur between November and February while March to April and August to September are the driest months. The main languages-dialects are Waray-waray and Cebuano

Tourist Information: Regional Office VIII, Brgy. 25, Magsaysay Bvd. Kanhuraw Hill, 6500 Tacloban City, (near DILG Region 8), Mobile No.: +639166184280, E-Mails: dotreg8@yahoo.com, Website: www.visitmyphilippines.com

Battle of Leyte

The Battle of Leyte in October, 1945 in World War II, which an important stage of the Allied advance towards Japan, began with a viscous naval bombardment creating enough space on the shore for the landing of 200,000 American troops using landing crafts. It took place after a 1,500-mile seaborne operation that has been called "one of the most daring amphibious landings ever conceived."

Ray Anderson, a gunner on a navy ship at Leyte, wrote: “On October 19th, we remained at our battle stations all day long and went to condition 2 watches (Port and Starboard), four hours on and our hours off. At dawn on October 20th we could see the Island of Leyte - our objective - and more than 700 ships passed between two islands to go into the Gulf. Japs had fled taking only their rifles with them. At midnight we passed through the entrance into the Gulf. The convoy kept changing speed and course which made it very difficult to keep in station. We almost rammed the ship ahead of us once. For three days previously larger ships in our convoy had begun the initial bombardment and fleet minesweepers had swept the Gulf. We could see tracer shells from battleships, carriers, cruisers and destroyers blasting away at the beach. When the sun came over the horizon our planes appeared overhead en route to the beach on bombing missions. The Naval bombardment and aircraft bombing became heavier and heavier. The noise was terrific. [Source:Ray Anderson's Eyewitness Account to World War II, The American Legion, legion.org/yourwords ==]

“At 0900 we headed toward the beach escorting numerous landing crafts that were loaded with invasion troops and amphibious vehicles. We also were firing our mortars and rockets on the beach and farther inland for 15 minutes after the first wave hit the beach. As we neared the beach we began firing 20MM shells strafing the beach and soon from this combined firing the beach was covered by a cloud of smoke. Despite the terrific concentration of fire power there were a few Japs left alive (dug in) and our troops promptly killed them. After we ceased firing we followed the troops as they pushed ahead on the beach. Naval bombardment continued all day and troops kept pouring ashore and LST's (landing ships, tank) beached and unloaded their supplies. Tacloban Airfield and Catmon Hill, the main objectives, were captured that day. Filipinos were running toward the troops waving their arms so our soldiers wouldn't shoot them. We were about 1,000 yards from the beach and ready to give our troops fire support if they needed it. ==

“Our crew was very tired and the men were lying all over the decks trying to get some rest. At sunset, we anchored off the beach between the enemy line and ours to prevent enemy infiltration by small boats, etc. We kept watch armed with Springfields, Carbines and Thompson sub-machine guns looking for Jap swimmers, suicide PT boats and midget subs. No Japs were sighted. Just as we anchored I looked up and saw four Jap bombers flying overhead, almost directly over our ship. They dropped their bombs and I'll never forget that feeling as I watched the bombs coming down. As I watched the bombs coming down I got so weak assuming that they would hit our ship that I collapsed and fell down on the deck. Luckily, the bombs fell in the water off our fantail - too damn close for comfort. ==

“The bombardment kept on all night. Destroyers behind us were blasting away with their 5"38s and the noise was terrible. We could hear the shells swishing through the air overhead. Huge balls of fire shot out from our battleships and cruisers as their 16", 14", and 6" guns kept firing all night but the noise was nothing compared to the sharp banging of the destroyer with their 5"38s. Red and white tracer shells kept pouring on the beach and star shells and flares lit up the whole areas. Occasionally we could see tracers from machine guns and hear rifle fire from our troops ashore. Tacloban Airfield was all lit up as soldiers worked on the airstrip all night. ==

“We went to GQ at daybreak and watched numerous ships firing toward the sky but saw no Jap planes. Two 5"38 shells burst on the water very close to our ship. We were afraid that we would get hit by fire from our ships. We were sent on a firing mission at 1020 and fired at a target area for several hours expending 600 rounds (3 mortar rounds per minute). The surf was high and our ship kept broaching so it was necessary to go out and then go in for another run firing our mortars. Our target was a Japanese infantry concentration. We had good results and no Japs were left in the target area." ==

“After sunset we moved from the beachhead and anchored in front of a heavy cruiser. The cruiser kept firing at the beach all morning with its 6" guns. We were so close to the cruiser that every time they fired a salvo our whole ship would shake and puffs of wind from the gun blasts blew back my cabin curtain each time they fired. The entire ship would vibrate. The lamp in my cabin rattled and the typewriter desk and typewriter would shake making it difficult for me to type." ==

Land Battle of Leyte

On October 20, 1944, the U.S. Sixth Army supported by the Seventh and Third fleet landed on Leyte island, beginning the campaign to liberate the Philippines. MacArthur's Allied forces were accompanied by Osmeña, who had succeeded to the Philippine presidency upon the death of Quezon on August 1, 1944. Landings then followed on the island of Mindoro and around the Lingayen Gulf on the west side of Luzon, and the push toward Manila was initiated.

American troops on Leyte not only had to deal with Japanese troops, they also had to contend with jungles, diseases, gooey swamps, three typhoons and an earthquake. The fighting for a while was touch and go for the American forces.

During the first month of fighting, typhoons dropped 30 inches of rain. "Our fatigues rotted off of us," a veteran of the battle told the Washington Post. "We had more illness casualties than battle casualties on Leyte---jungle rot, dengue fever, dysentery, you name it."

"The Japanese fought to die, the Americans to live," one observer wrote of the Battle of Leyte. Only a handful surrendered. More than 65,000 Japanese soldiers, including almost an entire garrison of 50,000 men, fought to the death at Leyte. Slightly more than 3,500 American GIs were killed and 12,000 were wounded.

A key moment in the battle came when American soldiers were pinned down by machine gun fire below a hill dubbed "Bloody Ridge." A squad leader, who was part of a company that lost half of its men and ran out of ammunition, later told William Branigin of the Washington Post, "At that moment, when the Japanese could have come over and wiped us out, they quit and retreated. It was like an act of God."

MacArthur Makes “I Shall Return” Landing at Leyte

On March 11, 1942, after holding out for nearly three months in the Manila area,, MacArthur left Corregidor, a fort near Manila, while ordering the men that stayed behind to fight. MacArthur maneuvered through a Japanese blockade in a PT boat during his escape. On May 6, 1942, Corregidor was overrun by Japanese. Safe in Australia. MacArthur told the people of the Philippines "I shall return."

On October 20, 1944, MacArthur made his famous landing on Leyte beach. "He wore a crisply starched uniform," wrote historian Geoffrey Ward, "and the sunglasses and soft cap that had become his trademark, and he was eager to step ashore and proclaim his return. Then, 50 yards out, the barge ran aground. Landing craft burned around him, bodies were rolling in the surf, sniper bullets still whined overhead, and when the harried harbor master heard about the general's potential embarrassment he was unmoved. "Let 'em walk! he said."

"Cursing under his breath while photographers clicked, MacArthur and his companions stepped knee'deep into the surf and grimly walked ashore...then he saw a photographers print and realized the dramatic impression it would make in newspapers around the world. Thereafter, he made sure he waded ashore for cameras when landing on other islands."

In a radio broadcast, delivered from the landing beach, over a mobile-radio hookup, MacArthur said: "People of the Philippines, I have returned. The hour of your redemption is here...Rally to me. Let the indomitable spirit of Bataan and Corregidor lead one...Let every area be steeled...As the lines of the battle roll forward to bring you within the zones of operations, rise and strike...For your homes and hearths, strike! For future generations of your sons and daughters strike! In the name of your sacred dead, strike!"

After hearing the broadcast, a radio columnist who was 18 at the time later told Branigin, "My reaction then was to cry for joy." All around him "soldiers and civilians alike...had tears flowing down their cheeks." The broadcast fueled a sudden burst of guerilla activity, which in turn led to the massacre of thousands of civilians by the Japanese.

When MacArthur returned to the Philippines in 1961 three years before his death at 84 to celebrate the 15th anniversary of the nation's independence some two million people filled the streets of Manila to welcome him back.

Imelda Marcos's Early Life

Imelda Remedios Visitación Trinidad Romuáldez was born on July 2, 1929 in Manila and was brought up in Leyte, a large island southeast of Manila. Some articles say she was born in Leyte. Her family belonged to the rich and powerful Romaualdez clan. However, her father squandered his share of the family fortune and her mother was bitter because she mainly married him for his money. Her father, Vicente Romuáldez was the brother of Philippine Supreme Court Associate Justice and her paternal ancestors were from a land-owning family in Tolosa, Leyte, descended from Granada, Andalusia, Spain. She has five other siblings: Alfredo, Alita, Armando, Benjamin and Concepcion who spent their childhood in San Miguel. [Sources: Wikipedia, The New Yorker ]

Imelda's parents separated when she was young. She lived with her mother in a garage until her mother died of pneumonia when Imelda was eight. After their mother died in 1938, the family moved to Tacloban, where she was known as the "Rose of Tacloban", and was raised by her servant Estrella Cumpas. In the film Imelda, she claimed to have met Douglas MacArthur when he landed in Tacloban at the end of World War II. Tacloban was also the city devastated by Typhoon Haiyan in 2013.

At the request of a wealthy uncle, Daniel Z. Romualdez, Imelda returned to Manila in 1950 and lived with his family. She worked in a music store on Escolta street as a singer to attract customers. She took voice lessons at the music conservatory of the University of Santo Tomas. As a teenager she flirted with American soldiers by asking them for chocolate and liked to sing American songs like Don't Fence Me In. American culture had a strong impact on her as did many Filipino. Describing her childhood, Imelda Marcos said, "I knew how to eat an apple before I knew the banana. I knew the American anthem instead of my own anthem."

Imelda was very beautiful. She placed second in a beauty pageant known as "Miss Manila" and was named the "Muse of Manila" after contesting the results.This launched a modeling career, with her pictures appearing in local magazines and newspapers.

In 1954, she was introduced by her uncle to Ferdinand, when he was a young Nacionalista Party congressman from Ilocos Norte, After a two-week courtship they were married. Before meeting her husband, she briely dated Benigno Aquino, Jr., who would later become a political rival. Ferdinand and Imelda were married on May 1, 1954. They had three children: Imee, Ferdinand, Jr., and Irene. She also adopted a girl named Aimee.

Samar

Samar is the third largest island in the Philippines, after Luzon and Mindanao . Located in eastern Visayas, the island is divided into three provinces: Samar (the western two-fifths of the island of Samar), Northern Samar, and Eastern Samar. These three provinces, along with the provinces on the nearby islands of Leyte and Biliran are part of the Eastern Visayas region.

Samar is the eastern-most island in the Visayas. About a third of the island is protected as a natural park known as the Samar Island Natural Park. The island is separated from Leyte by the San Juanico Strait, which at its narrowest point is only about 2 kilometers (1.2 mi) across. This strait is crossed by the San Juanico Bridge. Samar lies southeast of the Bicol Peninsula on Luzon; the San Bernardino Strait separates the two islands. To the south of Samar is the Leyte Gulf, which was the site of the Battle of Leyte Gulf, one of the most decisive naval battles during the Second World War. The gulf opens out into the Philippine Sea, found to the east of Samar and is part of the Pacific Ocean.

Samar is connected to Leyte. It is considered unsafe. The island covers 13,429 square kilometers and is home to about 1.8 million people and has a population density of 130 people per square kilometer According to ASIRT: 1) Road network is limited and generally in poor condition. Few all-weather roads exist. Remote regions are inaccessible during heavy rains. 2) Main roads linking interior regions are being upgraded to 2-lane, all-weather, gravel routes. 3) Some national roads have so many deep potholes that residents planted coconut trees in protest. [Source: Association for Safe International Road Travel (ASIRT), PDF, 2012]

The Church of La Inmaculada Concepcion is Guiuan, Samar was nominated to be a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2006: According to UNESCO: “The present church was first built by the Jesuit Missionaries in the 18th Century, later was taken over by the Franciscan Friars. The church complex is a fortress. Numerous parts of the church interior are decorated with seashells. It is unique in the country. The church still has its original front door, retablos, statues, and other church artifacts. The walls are made of coral stone. The church of Guiuan has undergone further improvements in the 1930's when the present ceiling of the church was painted and the flooring was done. There are repairs every now and then, but the main context of the structure remained. The seashell ornamentation and the church artifacts are intact. The fortress is still in the periphery. Based on an early 20th century picture, the church maintained its integrity. Reflective of the Jesuit and Franciscan sensibilities.” [Source: UNESCO]

Samar Island Natural Park

Samar Island Natural Park, in Samar, embraces the largest contiguous tract of old-growth forest in the Philippines. It is the country's largest terrestrial protected area, with an area of 3,333 square kilometers. The buffer is spread north to south over the island's three provinces (Eastern Samar, Northern Samar and Samar province) and totals 4,587 square kilometers, about a third of the entire island of Samar. The park includes some of the island's well-known natural landmarks and landscapes: Sohoton Natural Bridge, Calbiga Caves, Taft Forest Wildlife Sanctuary, Jicontol Watershed Forest Reserve and Bulosao Watershed Forest Reserve. The park has a large biodiversity, containing a remarkable number of threatened species belonging to the Eastern Visayas and Mindanao biogeographic region. [Source: Wikipedia]

The Samar Island Natural Park occupies the low rugged central mountain range of the island of Samar shared by all three provinces in the island. The headwaters of 25 watersheds begin from the slopes located in the natural park. The largest is the Suribao watershed with an area of 60,145 hectares (148,620 acres), followed by Can-avid (58,653 hectares (144,930 acres). The natural park consists of an interior highland with marked accordant peaks and a surrounding limestone or karst terrain. In the southern portion, the landscape is composed of jungle-covered limestone ridges. Its ecosystems include grasslands, agroforestry areas, forest-over-limestone, riparian ecosystem, lowland mixed dipterocarp forest, and mossy or cloud forest.

The park is a known habitat of the Philippine eagle. It also has a significant population of the Philippine eagle-owl, Philippine tarsier, Philippine flying lemur and Philippine tree squirrel It was declared a forest reserve in 1996 but raised to the status of natural park in 2003. The Taft Forest in Eastern Samar, covering 3,728.98 hectares of rainforest have been protected as a wildlife sanctuary since 1999 and is a known nesting site and natural habitat of the critically endangered Philippine eagle. The endemic giant forest raptor was first spotted in the island in the municipality of Paranas on June 15, 1856, by the British explorer John Whitehead.[12]

The Langun-Gobingob cave system in Calbiga Caves Park within the natural park is considered the biggest cave in the Philippines. The Sohoton Natural Bridge Park is a conservation area and ecotourism site in the municipality of Basey known for its outstanding geological features including its natural stone bridge which connects two mountain ridges across a gorge, and an extensive cave system with unique limestone formations.

Jicontol Forest is a component of the Mounts Cabalantian–Capotoan Complex, an important bird area, which comprises the mountains of central Samar at the border of Eastern Samar and Samar provinces. This forest is home to many threatened and restricted-range species of the Mindanao and Eastern Visayas Endemic Bird Area, such as the Samar hornbill, Visayan broadbill and yellow-breasted tailorbird. Its forest cover consists of typical dipterocarp and molave-dipterocarp with mid mountain type vegetation in the highest peaks reaching to 850 meters (2,790 ft). There have also been sightings of the Southern silvery kingfisher and the Philippine eagle within the forest.

Try Joni of Trexplore Adventures (www.trexplore.weebly.com or samar@trexplore.ph) for information on visiting the park. One person posted in Trip Advisor in 2017: “The first destination in our six-day tour in Eastern Visayas was the Sohoton Natural Bridge Natural Park. And I can say it was a great start. The travel time was a little more than an hour with the road coming from Basey, Samar to Sohoton mostly concreted. After registering, we were fitted with lifejackets and helmets. Then, we rode a pumpboat going to Sohoton Cave. There, we were serenaded with some Waray songs. The cave has some interesting rock formations. After our cave tour, we kayaked our way through to reach the Natural Bridge. It was tiring because it was upstream! But the sight was truly spectacular! Aside from that, river jumping was adrenaline pumping. The tourism office in Sohoton also offers accommodations, catering, and team building facilities.”

Battle of Leyte Gulf

The Battle of Leyte Gulf on October 22-27, 1944 in Philippines was the largest naval battle in World War II and some have called it the greatest naval battle in history. It pitted combined American and Australian forces against the Japanese navy,

Several days after the Leyte Beach landing, Japanese naval forces began challenging the landing forces and a battle broke out offshore in Leyte Gulf involving 282 (218 Allied and 64 Japanese) ships and 1,996 (1,280 Allied, 716 Japanese) aircraft. The battle consisted of three engagements: all won by the United States. In an attempt to scatter and destroy the American flotilla, the Japanese launched kamikaze attacks for the first time. When the battle was over the Japanese Imperial navy sustained a quarter of all the losses since the beginning of World War II. It lost four aircraft carriers and virtually its entire naval air force as well as four battleships, 14 cruisers, and 43 other ships.

Among the ship that were sunk was the great battleship Musashi. Jon Henley wrote in The Guardian: “On October 18 1944, Japanese vice admiral Takeo Kurita sailed with a 67-strong fleet, including both the Musashi and Yamato, into the Sibuyan Sea, west of the Philippine island of Leyte, aiming to throw back an American landing and attack vulnerable US transport ships on the other side of the island. [Source: Jon Henley, The Guardian, March 4, 2015 /+\]

“At 8.10am on October 24 a spotter aircraft from the US carrier Intrepid spied the Japanese fleet, and by 10.27am, according to Japanese naval records, battle was formally engaged, with the Musashi's massive guns in action for the first time. But with few Japanese aircraft to fend off the airborne attacks, the enormous vessel eventually became a sitting duck, reduced to firing its mammoth guns into the water to send up huge spouts of water aimed at knocking the attacking aircraft out of the air. “Running into one of these geysers was like running into a mountain," one US pilot, Jack Lawton, was recorded as saying after the battle. “I felt the muzzle blast each time they fired. I could swear the wings were ready to fold every time these huge shockwaves hit us." /+\

“The last American attack was over by 3.30pm, according to the US Naval Historical Centre, leaving the Musashi listing heavily from some 37 direct torpedo and bomb hits (the figure is disputed). At 7.15pm, Captain Toshihira Inoguchi retired to his cabin, intending to go down with his ship. The order to abandon ship came 15 minutes later and at 7.36pm the Musashi capsized and sank. Of the crew of 2,399, only 1,376 survived." /+\

Image Sources: Wikimedia Commons

Text Sources: Philippines Tourism websites, Philippines government websites, UNESCO, Wikipedia, Lonely Planet guides, New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, National Geographic, The New Yorker, Bloomberg, Reuters, Associated Press, AFP, Japan News, Yomiuri Shimbun, Compton's Encyclopedia and various books and other publications.

Updated in August 2020


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