April 2, 2009

From War - a Tree

I will never forget this tree. It grows now on the island of Corregidor which sits at the entrance to Manila harbor in the Phillipines. During WWII, American troops led by General MacArthur held this tiny island for weeks, withstanding brutal bombardment by the Japanese force fortified across a small strait. When the island fell, the surviving American troops were forced on the murderous Bataan Death March.

Today, more than 60 years after the end of the war, Corregidor is a lush and beautiful tourist spot where we were lucky enough to spend a peaceful night in 2006. Our tour guide stopped in front of this tree and recited Joyce Kilmer's Trees and then proceeded to tell us his story.

Joyce Kilmer

I think that I shall never see
A poem lovely as a tree.
A tree whose hungry mouth is prest
Against the earth's sweet flowing breast;
A tree that looks at God all day,
And lifts her leafy arms to pray;
A tree that may in Summer wear
A nest of robins in her hair;
Upon whose bosom snow has lain;
Who intimately lives with rain.
Poems are made by fools like me,
But only God can make a tree.

Our tour guide grew up without the father who had been captured on Corregidor and died on the death march. Thanks to the American soldiers who rebuilt many of the schools in the Phillipines after the war, he recieved an education and was a successful businessman. Now retired, he leads groups of tourists, many Americans like ourselves, on tours of Corregidor as a gesture of thanks. He always stops as this tree and recites the poem he was taught by his wonderful American teacher in third grade. He looked at us and said, "From war - a tree. From loss - beauty."

Here are our trees:




This art project came from the post "How to Paint Spring Trees" at That Artist Woman's blog.


  1. Really enjoyed this post! Love the poem, thanks for sharing.
    Coloring Outside The Lines

  2. Thanks, I really enjoyed your post. I used to live in the Philippines and learned about the Death March while in elementary. Unfortunately, I never got to visit the Corregidor Island which I could see from the ship during a few trips from Manila to Mindanao. Your post has whetted my appetite to visit the place! Thanks again.