Snooping Around Inside Ternate Marine Base for a Better View of Fort Frank and Fort Drum

My stay in Cavite de Boracay was brief. I went there not to swim but enjoy the scenery. The resort is not the place for that. There’s a lot of people going about so it’s a little distracting. I left but found a road leading to perhaps a restricted area. On a condition that I won’t be up to no good, a Marine said I may go there. Of course, I did.

marinebase_elfraile

I strolled up the road, hazard lights blinking, wearing high visibility vest and helmet, and my camera hanging from my neck. It looks like this is where their infirmary is. I came across Marines cleaning, gardening and some cooking lunch on big pots using firewood. I got looks from some, some smiled, but no one drove me away. I continued towards a more remote part with tall grass and some ruins. I parked the bike and stood on top of some rocks for a better view. Wow! I can see a bigger part of Manila Bay from this ridge. There’s Carabao Island, an outline of possibly Mt Mariveles in Bataan, Corregidor, and that battleship Fort Drum. I need to get better view so I went over the little wall and fought my way through the chest-high grass as I scaled down the cliff all the while thinking: I’m not going to get shot, am I?

I slowly scaled down the cliff, making sure I have a secure foothold. I found an old, rusty AA (anti-aircraft) gun sitting on a slope of the ridge. Below is a rocky shoreline with clear waters and some rock formations. From where I was standing I can see part of the beach of Cavite de Boracay and another cove on the other side with a beach that suggests it’s used for military exercises. Think of it as a letter W, with me standing on the middle crest.

an 88mm AA gun is my best guess. anyone knows what exactly this is?

an 88mm AA gun is my best guess. anyone knows what exactly this is? Please let us know in the comments.

If only I could right-click; See Stats; Number of Planes shot down

If only I could right-click; > See Stats > Number of Planes shot down

Trying to get the feel of it.. If I try harder, I might just get..... TETANUS!

Trying to get the feel of it.. If I try harder, I might just get….. TETANUS!

Taking a peek of Cavite de Boracay Beach

Taking a peek of Cavite de Boracay Beach

Clean isn't it? Let's keep it that way, please...

Clean isn’t it? Let’s keep it that way, please…

Some fishermen roaming in this part of Manila Bay.

Some fishermen roaming in this part of Manila Bay.

Most part of the shoreline is very rocky and has steep ridges.

Most part of the shoreline is very rocky and has steep ridges.

Looking towards the ocean, a number of banca, who appears to be fishermen, often passed by.  The waters looked very calm, very clean… very peaceful. Very different from how it was during World War II.

Okay, now for some informal history lesson. DISCLAIMER: I just read most of this from the web; with some stock knowledge from other form of media. Please verify the facts as needed. It’s so interesting, I want to share it to you and encourage you to read more or even visit the place. Let me also know if I got things wrong.

The Harbor Defense of Manila Bay. Photo Courtesy of corregidor.proboards.com

The Harbor Defense of Manila Bay. Photo Courtesy of corregidor.proboards.com

A satellite view of Ternate Marine Base.

A satellite view of Ternate Marine Base.

The entrance to Manila Bay is guarded by four islands: Corregidor (Fort Mills); Caballo (Fort Hughes); Carabao (Fort Frank); El Fraile (Fort Drum). This is part of the Manila Bay harbor defenses during World War II. All these four islands were visible from where I was standing but Forts Frank and Drum were the closest to Cavite. The other two were on Bataan side.

Marker on Fort Drum (ELFraile Island) in Manila Bay

Marker on Fort Drum (ELFraile Island) in Manila Bay

Carabao Island (Fort Frank) is the closest to the mainland (Cavite). The island has sheer cliffs all around it which makes a beach-like landing nearly impossible. It was fortified with artillery batteries to defend against warships and planes especially at night or foggy conditions when Corregidor has limited visibility of the entrance to Manila Bay. You may read more about the island here (corregidor.org) and here (pacificwrecks.com)

According to Karl Welteke of corregidor.proboards.com: This is a rare Carabao Island image from NARA.

According to Karl Welteke of corregidor.proboards.com: This is a rare Carabao Island image from NARA. (source link here)

marinebase_carabaoisland

Carabao Island viewed from a ridge in Ternate Marine Base.

I can't find any explanation why it is called Carabao Island.

I can’t find any explanation why it is called Carabao Island. Any guess?

Of the four islands, Fort Drum or El Fraile Island is the smallest but the most unique. In fact, there’s no other like it in the world. The island is so small that in order to fortify it, they have to level the whole island and rebuild it like a battleship with really big guns (bigger than the ones in Corregidor) and 20 feet thick walls of reinforced concrete.  It’s a like a boxer that packs a powerful punch but has no footwork. It has to be tough and last whatever the enemy throws at it. And it did! When Corregidor fell, it was ordered to self-destruct and surrender. The Japs never got the fortress repaired and use it against its enemies. A lot of interesting stuff here (concretebattleship.org).

The "Unsinkable Battleship". Photo courtesy of svsm.org

The “Unsinkable Battleship”. Photo courtesy of svsm.org

top left photo from warofourfathers.com; bottom left from timawa.net; bottom right from wikipedia. top hazy photo by me ;)

top left photo from warofourfathers.com; bottom left from timawa.net; bottom right from wikipedia. top  right hazy photo by me 😉

I would love to visit these islands but it’s not easy. Finding a banca to rent might not be difficult but getting ON the island is difficult because they are meant to keep people out. Actually, I think it is better if people DO KEEP OUT. At least while the government has not made any action towards making this historic landmarks a supervised tourist spot. Sad fact is, they haven’t done anything in 70 long years to protect these treasures. So, we can only wait in vain as our people continue to vandalize and loot an important part of our history. Very sad indeed.

Then I heard gunfire. Just some Marines training but I was reminded again of my worry about some Marine in camouflage coming out of the thicket pointing a rifle at me. Oh yeah, that and landmines. I can’t help but feel uneasy whenever I step into the thick vegetation not seeing where I’m stepping at. And I did almost step on a “landmine” (photo here) near that AA gun.

Dhone keeping watch nearby. Told her to honk real loud if a Marine comes looking for me.

Dhona keeping watch nearby. Told her to honk real loud if a Marine comes looking for me.

On my way out, I came onto another fork of (dirt) road which leads to the beach with some military outdoor training facilities. I let it be. Felt there’s nothing to it and I might just be abusing the maximum tolerance the Marines has been towards me. I exited the base and proceeded to.. How do you say this? CAY-LAB-NE. CAYLABNE!!

Advertisements

About Dom de la Torre

The rider is a 20-something Filipino that rides a Honda Wave 125cc underbone. He knows little about motorcycles yet loves the experience going places on two wheels. Rider Ako is a motorcycle-slash-travel blog. The rider not only shares to you travel destinations and what to see there but also the experience of getting there. You will read about the thrills and adventure when he rides solo, the romance of riding in tandem, the camaraderie riding with a group, the excitement participating in events, and anything that he thinks you might find interesting.When he's broke and the fuel's empty, he will share stories about motorcycling how he sees it through his helmet visor.
This entry was posted in Quickie, Rides, Solo Ride and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to Snooping Around Inside Ternate Marine Base for a Better View of Fort Frank and Fort Drum

  1. kim says:

    Thanks for the quick history brush up. I, too, was wondering what those islands were, particularly that bosy shaped one (fort drum)

    • You’re welcome Kim. I admit that I am bored with History but things like these interests me. I guess it’s way more fun if you learn it through your own way and not by some boring lecture at school.

  2. Mayette Corral says:

    Nice blog. Very interesting and educational. You’re a good researcher…

  3. ren says:

    Nice piece of work. Brilliant! Except that I think that landmine thing is a piece of sh*t 🙂

  4. Ghie cama says:

    Hi doms,..how much do i need to get there and how?

  5. Hi, is there a way for us to climb the cliff from the beach? We are planning to go there by the end of the month for our team building and i really want to climb that cliff beside the cove.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s