SOME old structures, when repaired, come out beautiful and vibrating with a new life, but some, especially those that carry historical significance and bear witness to a glorious past, should be preserved or restored to its original form as much as possible.
In the center of San Jose village on Tinian stands one of those structures — an old bell tower — the remains of an old Catholic church.
The bell tower may look out of place in the modern and developing surroundings, but the contrast adds to the mystic of this pre-war structure despite its dilapidated and crumbling state.
The Tinian bell tower, a central landmark on the island, was the only portion of the historic San Jose church that survived the fury of the war. Over the years, this piece of history continues to attract thousands of tourists and has been one of the most photographed places in the CNMI.
Photos posted on various Web sites showed that a small plaza was built around the tower a few years back.
The old church was built by Father Pellet and parishioners in 1936.
The old bell tower in San Jose is just one of Tinian’s many historical attractions.
The island is littered with history — latte stones, World War II relics, crumbling architecture, shrines, old abandoned Japanese buildings and the two pits where the two atomic bombs that were dropped on Japan were loaded.
During the few times I visited the island, I always experienced the same eerie feeling of intruding into a sacred part of history —knowing that every brick and mortar, every piece of nail and bar in the abandoned buildings were mute witnesses to a bloody war that shook the entire Pacific over six decades ago.
It always felt like a sin to leave footprints on the grounds and your mere presence in the historical sites seemed to be an “incursion.”
Aside from its historical wealth, the island is a paradise surrounded with spectacular vistas, secluded beaches, clear waters for scuba diving and snorkeling, and friendly people.
To get to Tinian, you can fly via Freedom Air for $69 per person, or charter a flight with Star Marianas Air. On Tinian, you can rent a car or a scooter to visit the historical and natural sites, and take you around the island.