Friday, June 17, 2011

Afternoon inside an abandoned World War 2 structure

THERE is more to spiders and piles of dust that has accumulated through the years when you enter this abandoned building that has played a big role during the second World War on Tinian.
Driving by this abandoned two-storey building at the North Field of Saipan will give you the creeps, as though you can expect to see someone peering from one of those windows anytime but venturing inside is another story. The sun was fast making its way down the horizon when I and two friends from Tinian stepped into the cemented door of the building some weeks back.
Dodging cobwebs and spiders that scuttled off to safety upon our arrival, we stood for a few minutes just inside the door of the building, getting the feel of the place. My imagination was working wildly as we picked our way and explored the empty rooms, our footsteps echoing through the stairs and corridors.
Climbing the two flights of stairs to the second floor, we explored all the rooms, glorying in the silently eerie atmosphere that you can only get in abandoned buildings but without the fear of stepping into something that will send us falling into the ground below because the building, made of sturdy construction materials, holds the promise of staying around for the next century.
Used for inter-island communication by the Japanese during those years of war, the Radio Communication Building at the North Field of Tinian was recently used by a ranch as a slaughterhouse but abandoned it later.
I imagined how those now-empty rooms served a big role during the war, bustling with activities as soldiers manned various equipment and communication tools for sending important messages from and to Tinian.
Light pouring through the huge open windows of the building serves as natural light to guide the tourists and locals who visit the place.
So rich in history, the Radio Communication Building is among the most-visited tourist attractions on Tinian, drawing hundreds of visitors from all parts of the world each year.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Out with the tide

A DELIGHTFUL respite from the daily grind of life in this beautiful island would not require one to spend thousands of dollars for an exotic vacation far away. You can have a vacation right where you are, with freedom to choose between short breaks of an hour or two or a whole day— it’s all up to you but you keep your eyes and senses open to discover places that people from other places would give a lot for.
A short drive to the far right end of the Smiling Cove Marina one afternoon some days back gave me another spot to write about and share to people who are thinking that there’s nothing interesting in this island anymore.
The tide was out when I and my roommate ventured into the dried out sea bed. I had been to this area several times before, but it was my first time to be there when there was barely any water on the sea at all. I grabbed the chance to explore the other side of the island. With my flimsy sandals, I picked my way slowly among the sharp rocks and corals, pausing every now and then to snap pictures of anything that catches my attention.
Seaweeds which look like small dark patches when the water is high bent to the seafloor as low as they could, soaking up whatever water was left.
The extreme humidity forgotten, I got lost in time as I looked up and gazed at one of the most beautiful sights Saipan has to offer during these times. Against a spectacular backdrop of blue skies and seas, blossoming flame trees dotting the hills completed the picture, making it look like this part of Saipan was in flames, a photographer’s delight.
There was no other sign of life from where I was standing, save for a few crabs scurrying to their holes and some fish stranded in little pools of water and among      the thick seaweeds whose splashes I tried in vain to capture with my camera.
Birds swooping to catch a fish or two from the water added to the beauty of the afternoon. Soon, the tide started coming back, so fast indeed that before I knew it, the spot where I was standing minutes earlier was already covered in water. Returning to the shore to sit on a fallen log, I saw the seaweeds standing up and springing back to life, once again looking like patches of small dark islands as always. Life has returned to normal for the sea creatures, breaking the brief respite they enjoyed when the tide was out.
This island still has so much to offer if you look at it with a new perspective. After all, the best things in life are still free.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Tranquility at an abandoned park

ROTA — Delightfully situated on a prime spot along the coastal road just before you enter Songsong is one paradise that you should not miss when you’re here —  Pinatang Park.
It is a huge boulevard with an entrance made of cement but designed to look like natural logs and intricate woodwork.
The gate leads straight to a long arch bridge connecting to a smaller island, a small park complete with a pool and spiraling water slides, picnic tables and benches and other amenities that makes up what perfect picnics areas should be.
I stopped by Pinatang Park one cloudy afternoon a couple of months back, drawn to the sense of peacefully quiet but scenic park overlooking the ocean and bordered by islets that serve as natural fences against the giant waves.
I had the whole place to myself and I couldn’t help but conclude that if there is one spot on the beautiful island of Rota that can make you sigh with deep regret, it is this place. Something is missing in this beautiful park —people and sounds of laughter and everything that parks are supposed to be.
The long boulevard stretched endlessly, each slab of cement, posts with missing lights, crumbling or missing balustrades, rusty benches with pieces of steel sticking out, and everything else telling its own sad story.
At the far end of the park, a beautiful cottage/bar or what’s left of it, with round cement stools around it tells its own sad story of glory days gone by, a testimony that this beautiful park has been exposed to fend off for itself against the harsh elements of nature.
A Rota resident said the park requires too much money to maintain and the municipality has no funds for it, hence its present state.
Only the profusion of colorful flowers and the chirping birds refuse to acknowledge the fact that the park is left with no one to maintain it, and that visitors can come and go as they please, at their own risk.
I got scared to cross the bridge and explore the other side of  Pinatang Park. I regretted that decision and wouldn’t miss going there if I get another chance to come back to Rota.
Soon, a school bus dropped off some students on the roadside and the silence was broken. One little boy ventured down the stairs to hide from his companions and I couldn’t resist taking a photo of him.
It’s funny but despite the dilapidation and sense of abandonment surrounding the park, I find it appealing and would have stayed longer if not for the huge, fat raindrops that started to pelt on the deserted park. I ran for the car hugging my gear, and with heart still heavy with regret, drove away to Songsong for a late lunch.
Tranquility at an abandoned park | around-the-island.