MCKINLEY ROAD. Serious, simple, and sprawling, this is the Manila American Cemetery and Memorial in Fort Bonifacio, Taguig City. Established a decade after World War II in what is known then as Fort McKinley, it is the largest resting place for American service men outside the United States.
The best way to reach the cemetery from EDSA is to go under the canopy of interlocking branches of old acacia trees along McKinley Road passing by the entrances of the Manila Golf and Country Club and the Manila Polo Club and then Sanctuario de San Antonio in posh Forbes Park.
FORT MCKINLEY. Historically, McKinley Road linked the Neilson Airfield to Fort McKinley. After World War II, Neilson airport was decommissioned and the Zobel de Ayala family converted the airport runways into Ayala and Makati Avenues and developed the surrounding area into today’s Makati CBD. Years later, Fort McKinley was renamed Fort Bonifacio.
From Lawton Avenue, like soldiers standing in formation the row after row of simple, white Carrara marble crosses can be viewed through the fence enclosing the cemetery.
AMERICAN BATTLE MONUMENT. Pass the unmarked marble headstones of American soldiers who lost their lives in defense of the Philippines and East Indies during World War II is the American Battle Monument. The circular marble mall was designed by architect Gardner A. Dailey. Etched on walls are the names of soldier whose dead bodies were never found. A bronze flower is placed next to the names of soldiers whose remains were later discovered.
The Philippines was a US territory when the Japanese began its surprise attacks to country. From 1941 to 1942, thousands of USAFFE troops and Filipinos died while defending the country from the invading Japanese forces.
WAR STORIES. There are large mosaics that recall the significant actions of the USAFFE in the Pacific, China, India and Burma. This part of the memorial where one can chance upon a war veteran retelling his experiences during World War II.
On Good Friday of 1942, the Japanese launch their final offensive. The battlefield was at the foot of Mount Samat in Bataan, where the USAFFE made its last stand. After a week, the USAFFE forces surrendered to the Japanese. The Filipino-American prisoners of war were forced to march from Bataan to San Fernando Pampanga. This in history is known as the infamous Death March.
ART DECO CHAPEL. The cemetery chapel is decorated with bas-relief sculpted by Boris Lovet-Lorski. The façade depicts allegorical figures of Liberty, Justice and Country.
Columbia crowns the zenith, holding a child. Inside the chapel is a beautiful mosaic of flowers forever living in Art Deco style.