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    El Fraile Island: Fort Drum the Concrete Battleship of Manila Bay


    This quest for this story began with this picture. It was among he hundreds of slides I've been going through that  connect my third culture kid beginnings with my adult life. I couldn't stop looking at this particular picture, it was fascinating. It was obviously a remnant of WWII, seemingly floating out in the middle of the Ocean.

    I couldn't remember what it was right away. So I decided I should quiz my barkada about this picture. This particular picture was taken between 1971 and 1978, and it is of Manila Bay. This particular picture is of what remains of Fort Drum, which is off the coast of Corregidor, also known as Fort Mills. When Americans conquered places back then, we changed the names of everything. To this day we drive down McKinley Rd in Forbes, where there is MacArthur Hwy, which is the old highway that runs from Manila to Baguio..

    So the tale of Fort Drum is not a long tale, but an important tale, we have established Fort Drum was a tiny island in Manila Bay formerly known as El Fraile Island and renamed and reformed by the new American colonists.  The US Army felt they could utilize the island in an unusual way to help protect Manila Bay from future attacks. Fort Drum was important to both the Japanese and the Americans in WWII.

    Anna popped in and reminded me of this, Fort Drum was originally the tiny El Fraile Island, and prior to 1909 it looked like this:

    El Fraile Island, became the heavily secured island fortress known as The Concrete Battleship, construction began in 1905, and the first step was to level the island. And that is just what the army did, they leveled El Fraile Island.

    This is what the army built. This picture above is located at the Concrete Battleship org, it has a treasure trove of pictures of Manila Bay, Fort Drum, Fort Hughes and Fort Mills.

    I took this while revisiting Corregidor, February 2010. I began to take my family back with me, one at a time in recent years. One of the places we always visit is Corregidor, it was an important part of my young life and it is an important part of world history. I was excited to take our middle son there, so he could see what remained of WWII.

    We've changed a great deal as a society, we have learned to be much more conscious about our environment. El Fraile Island was leveled so the Army could build a concrete fortress, I don't think we would do that today. You cannot see Fort Drum from my picture, but it is a great picture of Hooker Point.

    Leaving Corregidor, sometime in the 1970's.



    My eyesight is so damn bad but I swear that El Fraile looks like a giant turkey. ha

    <gobble> Time for a snack ...

    OMG Dick you are right, it does look like a giant turkey!

    Great story, T. I'd like to think we wouldn't level an island today, but ...

    I know exactly what you mean Donal, I would like to think we wouldn't level the island today.

    Well, if you two ever change your mind, check out these people:


    Oh man! Well there goes that hope!

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