Sundown over the Bataan Peninsula is breathtaking.
After confirming early this AM that my passport is ok, Alan and I spent the day in the 19th-floor, glass-enclosed club of Manila's Jen hotel. The management took pity on us and allowed us to work here instead of walking the streets as we await our midnight flight. We took advantage of the comfortable location and the attentive staff to work on our report.
Manila Bay is one of the world's great ports. Protected from prevailing typhoons and protected by islands like Corregidor, this is calm water, without even the wave action of Galveston. Even the Romans knew of Manila Bay.
From our comfortable perch, we can see more island-sized ships at anchor than I've ever seen in my life, many more than the Port of Houston. At anchor, they dreamily turn away from the wind. Here and there service boats shuttle in and out.
In the hazy distance, there in an uncountable mosquito fleet of small fishing boats. People live and work and live and die on those little boats, an entire culture that ignores dry land.
Beneath us, the lights of Manila and its dizzying traffic twinkle and honk.
Then there is Bataan on the dying, distant horizon about 30 miles away
Bataan was the location of the U.S. Army's last stand when Japan invaded the Philippines at the beginning of WWII, the biggest loss of MacArthur's embarrassing defeat at arms. Starving and malaria-ridden troops fought and died in Rugged Bataan before surrendering to endure the infamous Bataan Death March. Texans, especially Aggies, were counted high among the still-remembered heroes in that defeat (kinda like when A&M plays UT).
Bataan juts into Manila Bay like a down-turned thumb pointing at Corregidor. The mountainous extension into the sea of Luzon's backbone mountain range, the Bataan Peninsula is nothing but mountains. That's what makes them so beautiful tonight.
As dusk settled, the dying brightness back-lit Bataan's mountains, their purple appearance stark against the graying sky. So prominent are the peaks of Bataan that even after darkness fell, the huge form of mountains made looming gaps where stars ought to be. Once gathering clouds are now a fully joined tropical lightening storm illuminating Bataan, with straight, piercing strikes visible across Manila Bay.
We have to struggle to keep at our work. The beauty of Bataan is as seductive as our wits are dulled by physical and mental exhaustion. Still, work is better than daydreaming because it makes the time go faster.
Go clock go. At 7;30, we are 1 1/2 hours away from taking a taxi to the airport. We'll leave at 9:00; the airport is visible from our 19th floor; it'll take us at least two hours due to Manila's manic traffic. We don't look forward to the traffic jams, but we do look forward to seeing Sarah and Janie. From Manila to Seoul to Houston, we'll be home soon - or as soon as we can make these next 26 hours pass.
Getting home is the glorious end of every trip, and every one of my overseas trips has been great - for different reasons. Baguio 2016 has been great for I Corinthians 15:32 reasons. Paul fought with wild animals at Ephesus. I have to say that we have fought our own fight in Baguio, and won.