Clark Philippines Monuments and History
Explore the origins and meanings of monuments and markers throughout the Clark Freeport Zone. Learn of the rich and varied history of the area from the Spanish, to the Americans and Japanese occupations.
Death March Marker
This memorial marker was placed by the Manila BPO Elks Lodge in honor of those Elks, Americans and Filipinos who passed this spot on the infamous Death March in 1942. It sits at the entrance to the Clark Military Cemetery, along the main entrance road, just past the main gate.
History of the Bataan Death March
The Bataan Death March took place in the Philippines in 1942 and was later considered a Japanese war crime of large proportion. This was a long, grueling, inhuman march inflicted on the prisoners of war that occurred after a terrible 3 month battle for the Philippines was won by the Japanese.
Approximately 100,000 American and Filipino prisoners of war who were captured by the Japanese Imperialists of that day were abused after the conflict and were killed and subjected to horrifying conditions.
The mission of the march was to transport this very large number of prisoners located on the Bataan Peninsula at Mariveles, to Camp O’Donnell, a prison camp in the province of Tarlac, some 97 kilometers away. There were enormous physical abuses to both prisoners of war and even simple civilians along the way.
It’s difficult for historians to determine the exact number of deaths, but many believe the minimum to be between 6 to 11 thousand men. Others believe that only 54,000 of the 72,000 made it to Camp O’Donnell some 97 kilometers away.
While there is no way to make ammends for this loss of human life and suffering that the Japanese Imperialists of that day inflicted on the Filipino people, it should be noted that eventually, billions of yen in war reparation grants and loans were distributed to the Philippines by the Japanese.
Clark Filipino-American Veterans Cemetery
Relocated to the entrance of Clark, this is the spot where some 8,000 soldiers, civilians, dependents from the Spanish-American and Philippine-American wars lay at rest. This cemetery is one of the few spots in the Philippines where the American flag still flies.
History of Clark Cemetery
Back in 1900, the very first cemetery at Clark, then called Fort Stotsenburg, was established somewhere within the now Fort Stotsenburg Park area. At a later date, due to needed base growth, the Army built an additional cemetery on what is now a golf course in the Clark Freeport.
When the United States Air Force took over control of the base in 1949, they decided to change everything. They closed the previous two cemeteries in Clark, as they were in the middle of new base operations centers, and relocated the graves to a newly-built cemetery located on Mitchell Highway near the main gate of Clark.
All who died in WW-II were relocated and buried in Fort McKinley in Manila while others from various conflicts and family members of veterans were relocated in the main gate cemetery.
This cemetery was first opened in 1950 and as of 1983 is the final resting spot to the remains of 7559 war dead from the Philippine-American War, Spanish-American War and their civilian family members and dependents. Some remains of non-WW-II Japanese civilians, Philippine Scouts, Chinese and Vietnamese refugees are also buried here. Their efforts for over two decades significantly helped keep this important location sacred.
The eruption of Mount Pinatubo in 1991 brought with it another challenge. The U.S. Air Force had to evacuate the Clark Air Force Base at that point and management was transferred to Philippine control due to the destruction brought by the eruption. Unfortunately, the cemetery fell into a state of disrepair at that point due to the overwhelming task of cleanup and restoration from the large deposits of ash throughout the base. From 1994 to 2013 the Philippine Government allowed the local VFW post 2485 to maintain and operate the Clark cemetery. Their efforts for over two decades significantly contributed to help keep this important location sacred.
President Obama signed a law in January of 2013 called the Dignified Burial and Other Veterans’ benefits Improvement Act. This directed the American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC), after an agreement between the Republic of the Philippines and the U.S. was signed, to operate and keep maintained the Clark Veterans Cemetery. This made Clark the ABMC’s 25th cemetery under its jurisdiction.
Site of the original movie theater in the old Clark Air Base. This theatre is where many military men and family members enjoyed first-run U.S. movies. It was built in 1947 and again rebuilt in 1953. This is the site where Philippines President Manual Roxas gave his last speech before passing in 1948. The theater now stands in ruins but has the privilege of hosting a new, beautiful, monument next to it. This monument, built in 2007 to honor Capt. Colin P. Kelly, American’s first war hero of WW-II is becoming a favorite of ex-base residents and Clark Air Base tourists. The remnants of this theater and the monument to Kelly stand proud at the corner of Ninoy Aquino Ave and Foxhound Street, just east of the Oxford Hotel.
Capt. Colin P. Kelly Monument
Designated the first war hero of WW-II, Capt Kelly bravely carried-out his bombing mission, saved his crew and sacrificed his life. This proud monument to Kelly stands at the corner of Ninoy Aquino Ave and Foxhound Street, just east of the Oxford Hotel.
History of Capt. Kelly
Flying a four engine Boeing B-17C (Flying fortress), Capt. Kelly performed his last mission from the Clark Air Base on September 10, 1941.
On this date, Capt. Kelly and his crew flew to Aparri on a bombing mission and successfully took-out the Japanese light cruiser Ashigara. While returning to Clark, their plane was followed and attacked by Japanese fighters. This set Kelly’s bomber on fire and killed a waist gunner. Kelly ordered the rest of his crew to jump out with their parachutes, saving their lives.
Kelly them bravely attempted to save his B-17C by performing a belly landing at the barrio of Bical, Mabalacat, Pampanga, Philippines, just outside of the Clark Air Base, but crashed and died in the process.
Designated as American’s first war hero of WW-II by President Franklin D. Roosevelt, Capt Kelly is honored for his bravery at this monument.
Old, wood-built, American style barn houses built at the beginning of the American occupation in 1903. These were first used as the official residences of the base commanders and their families in the early 1900’s. During WW-II, one of them became the residences of the Commander of the Japanese Imperial Army.
The barn houses are in a park-like atmosphere with large acacia trees, extensive lawns and walkways connecting all of the houses.
These special buildings were considered state of the art for the time and considered an example of early American tropical architecture. The porch floorboard wood is made of pine shipped in from the state of Oregon. They were designed to keep their occupants cool in tropical climates with elevated spaces on the underside for breezes to flow and large wraparound covered porches. The steep metal roof was designed to reflect sunlight and quickly remove heavy rain from the surface.
Today they are home to a number of commercial businesses and government offices including restaurants, airlines, gyms, medical facilities, churches, childcare centers and various company administration offices.
President Roxas Death Place Marker, Statue and His History
Manuel Roxas was the first president of the independent Republic of the Philippines. He served as president from Philippine independence in 1946 until his sudden death in 1948. This marker/memorial is located on the Parade Grounds, close to the Philippine flag, directly across the street from the CDC Offices. Another full-size statue of Roxas exists at the intersection of Manuel A. Roxas Highway and Jose Abad Santos Avenue. Please see photo below.
History of Manuel Roxas
In (1935) Roxas became a member of the unicameral National Assembly, and served from 1938–19f41 as the Secretary of Finance in the cabinet of then President Manuel L. Quezon. After the amendments to the 1935 Philippine Constitution were approved in 1941, he was elected to the Philippine Senate. He was not able to fulfill his duties until 1945 because of the outbreak of World War II
Roxas enrolled as an officer in the reserves during WW-II. He was made liaison officer between the Commonwealth government of the Philippines and the United States Armed Forces at the headquarters of General Douglas MacArthur.
He followed Quezon to Corregidor where he directed the destruction of Philippine currency to prevent it being captured by the Japanese.
Roxas later went to Mindanao to direct the resistance against the Japanese. There he was made Executive Secretary and designated as successor to the presidency in case the President or Vice-President were captured or killed. Instead, Roxas was captured in 1942 by the Japanese invasion forces.
Roxas was made director of economic policy during the Japanese occupation of the Philippines. During this period, and even though Roxas worked in the underground intelligent agent against the Japanese during there occupation of the Philippines, Roxas was accused of being a Japanese collaborated when the American forces returned to the Philippines. After the war, Gen. Douglas MacArthur cleared him of any wrong-doing and reinstated his commission as an officer of the US armed forces.
After the Americans returned and pushed-back the occupying Japanese forces, the Philippines was liberated and reborn. In the April 23, 1946 elections, Roxas won by 54 % and his Liberal Party won a majority in the legislature. When Philippine independence was recognized by the United States on July 4, 1946, he became the first president of the new Philippines third republic.
Located close to the main gate entrance to the Clark Freeport Zone, this monument stands as a sign of Philippine-United States friendship over the years. It was originally built to symbolize the historical signing of the Republic of the Philippines and United States Military Bases Agreement in the early 1950s.
Clark Airbase Hospital
This well-known hospital was completed in 1964 and considered the most important U.S. regional military hospitals of the day for all of southeast Asia. With 200 beds, Its main usage was mainly during the Vietnam War. The hospital offered just about all types of medical services including dental care and mental health services. At one point the hospital treated as many as 17,000 patients per month. It even had a center for veterinary medicine to treat sentry dogs on the base.
After the U.S. Military abandoned the base, looters removed just about all of the equipment, furnishings and parts of the building. The hospital now lays abandoned inside the Clark Freeport Zone.
Some sections of the hospital can be explored easily today, but do so at your own risk. Make sure to check with authorities and CDC to see if there are any restrictions to entering the old abandoned facility. The abandoned and stripped building provides some unusual acoustic and experiential exploration. Rather than the bright and functional medical facility of the 60s and 70s, the old hospital today features crumbling building structures, deteriorated columns, water flowing down from upper stories, open elevator shafts complete with their original cables dangling. Long, dark, damp hallways with bats and birds flying also add the ultimate touch. The entire experience offers a level of creepiness unlike any other in the zone.
Because of the number of soldiers who died at this hospital, the locals and others believe it is haunted. In fact, the old hospital has a reputation of being one of the most haunted buildings in the Philippines. The Ghost Hunters International television show even did a segment on the hospital. If you dare, and are allowed, this is an experience not soon forgotten.
Various cannon displays are spread out throughout the Clark Freeport.
Filipino-Spanish War Cannons
n front of the Clark Museum, a cannon relic of the Filipino-Spanish war and Japanese WW-II anti-aircraft cannon.
Japanese Anti-Aircraft Cannons/Guns
If you want to have a look at some WW-II vintage anti-aircraft artillery that very-well may have actually been responsible for shooting down U.S. bomber aircraft of those days, then you need to take a drive to this spot next to the Clark Electric Company facility on Bayanihan Street just south of Jose Abad Santos Ave.
History and Specs for Type 88 Cannons
These anti-aircraft cannons were the type used during WW-II by the Japanese to defend the captured Clark Air Base against air attacks. A number of United States B-24 four engine Liberator heavy bombers were shot down by this type 88 anti-aircraft guns over Clark Field during WW-II.
These 75 mm antiaircraft configured guns/canons able to reach between 20,000 to 30,000 feet in altitude. They were of an old-design, yet they proved to be very powerful artillery for the Japanese to defend and maintain Clark Air Field. They had a range of over 13,000 meters, weighed over 2400 kg, with a projectile weight of 6.54 kg. They had a bore that was 3 inches (76.2mm) but the Japanese designated them as 8 cm. These guns entered service between 1927 and 1928 and by WW-II they were actually deemed as obsolete
Kamikaze West Airfield and Marker
A commemorative marker/memorial next to what looks like a cave/tunnel/bunker entrance showing the original formation location and hiding spot of the little-known, firstly formed Japanese Kamikaze suicide bomber squadron of WW-II. The marker, establishes the location of the Kamikaze West Airfield location and air raid bunker entrance. The bunker is carved into the side of a hill and was used by the Japanese to hide personnel and Kamikaze pilots from bombing raids by the U.S. Military.
This significant piece of history is found in the Northeast area of Clark, just past the Clark Picnic Grounds along Gil Puyat Avenue. Look for a sign pointing-out this marker along Gil Puyat Avenue, the road leading to the Mabalacat gate. You will need to take a dirt road a short distance off the pavement to get to the marker and historic World War II site.
History of First Kamikaze Squadron Formation
Japanese Vice Admiral Takijiro Onishi decided to form a suicide attack force, the Special Attack Unit in a meeting at Mabalacat Airfield, otherwise known as Clark Air Base. On October 19, 1944, Onishi told officers of the 201st Flying Group headquarters that he believed the only way to retain control of the Philippines was to put a 250 kg bombs on Zero fighter planes and crash them into U.S. carriers, to wreck havoc on the U.S. Fleet and disable them for weeks.
Commanded by Ohnishi on the then Japanese occupied Clark Air Base, the first Kamikaze missions were launched. The first volunteers were 23 pilots of the Imperial Japanese Navy’s 201st Kokutai, 1st Air Fleet. These were divided into four separate groups: Shikishima, Yamato, Asahi and the Yama Yukio Seki units.
At 07:25 October 25, 1944, the Shikishima unit departed Clark lead by Lieutenant Yokjo Seki. At 10:45am they attacked U.S. ships stationed at Leyte Island, Philippines. Credited with the first planned Kamikaze attack, Lieutenant Yokjo Seki actually succeeded in striking and sinking the United States carrier USS St. Lo in the first official plunge of a war ship by Kamikaze attacks.
This use of Japanese fighter planes as suicide dive-bombers in the war effort was significantly ahead of the infamous suicidal missions that followed the next year in 1945. Those later missions were the most familiar of the Japanese war effort and sank or inflicted heavy damage on hundreds of American and allied ships.
West Airfield Munitions Bunkers
Just down the road from West Airfield and now covered with vegetation are a large collection of earth-covered munition bunkers. They were deliberately hidden into the ground to protect their highly explosive and valuable stock from destruction by the enemy. They were known as “The Bomb Dump” back in Clark the military base days. These were originally built by the American’s to hold a plethora of ammunitions. Today, they lay abandoned and in disrepair but still a very visible reminder of the fascinating, mysterious and sorted history of Clark Airfield.
Goddess/Buddha of Peace Shrine
You’ll find this site along the road leading to Lilly Hill. Built in 1998, this shrine is the symbol to encourage peace and goodwill among nations. The shrine includes a large statue and black memorial plaque in English and Japanese.
This interesting little hill, the highest point in Clark, is only a quarter of a mile in diameter and approximately 105 ft high. It was utilized as a important defensive location for the last stand of Clark by Japanese troops during WWII.
History of Lily Hill
Located close to the center of the Clark Air Base, this little hill offers a strategic and beneficial view of the airfield complex area. During the Japanese occupation of Clark, this hill was excavated to allow tunnels to be built into its sides for the storage of fuel and munitions in an attempt to protect them from air raids.
Lily Hill was the main staging area for the Japanese defense of Clark. The Japanese vigorously defended Clark as the Americans attempted to once-again control the base. They dug in troops on the forward slopes of Lily Hill and positioned guns to deny access to the airfield’s runways.
In order for the Americans to win-back Clark Field, they needed to neutralize the Japanese Navy and Army troops dug-in on Lily Hill. These last remaining troops were able to delay the capture of Clark by a week by using Lily Hill as an advantageous and superior defensive staging area. Finally, on January 23, 1945, Lily Hill and Clark fell from Japanese hands and were once again in the control of the Americans.
After the American liberation of Clark in 1945, the tunnel entrances were collapsed and covered-over, preventing further access to the dangerous tunnels. Today, the area is a housing area. Today Lily Hill is covered with lush trees and bushes and has a water tank along with telecommunication and cell towers and antennas.
One military man stationed at Clark in the early eighties had this story to tell. In 1982, the day after a large military family picnic at the old base horse stables, now Clark Picnic Grounds Park, along the highway to Mabalacat, Lily Hill literally exploded with a loud bang. There was a full-scale investigation into the incident. The determination was that both American and Japanese military in WW-II had used Lily Hill as a dumping ground for unexploded ordinance and that it possibly could have been one of those old ordinance suddenly detonating on a very coincidental day.
Additional Markers and Memorials
Captain Colin Kelly Marker
Another, older marker Memorializing Colin Kelly, the very first American hero of World War II. Kelly took-off from Clark Field on the first American bombing mission of WWII. located along a road covering the first runway in Clark next to the Wagner Marker. You can find this marker and the companion marker for Boyd Wagner on the corner of Ninoy Aquino Ave and M.L. Quezon Ave.
Lieutenant Boyd D. “Buzz” Wagner Marker
Lieut. Wagner became the first American fighter pilot to shoot down five enemy planes over the Pacific Ocean, Essentially, he became the first United States ace of World War II. Also located along a road covering the first runway in Clark, alongside the Kelly Marker. You can find this marker and the companion marker for Colin Kelly at the corner of Ninoy Aquino Ave and M.L. Quezon Ave.
26th Cavalry Memorial
Situated on the western edge of Stotsenberg Park (Parade Grounds). The memorial says: “To the memory of the gallant dead 26th Cavalry Philippine Scounts, United States Army, Commemorating Their Heroic Actions Lingayen, Luzon, Bataan 1941 – 1942.”
US Army Air Corps and Philippine Air Force Monument
Located next to the 26th Calvalry memorial in the parade grounds. This memorial details the joint participation of the Philippine and American military forces.
Barracks for the Philippine Scouts and U.S. Cavalry
Now the offices of the Clark Development Corporation, these two buildings have a long history as some of the oldest buildings in Clark. Situated along C.P. Garcia and the corner of E. Auirino Ave.
History of Barracks
These buildings were originally constructed in the early 1920’s and used as barracks for enlisted personal assigned to the cavalry and field artillery units of then Fort Stotsenburg. They served as home to the 26th Cavalry (Philippine Scouts). These were Filipino Troopers mostly led by American Officers or Filipinos educated at West Point. These scouts were some of the last to surrender their horses. By the mid-1930’s, all other U.S. Army Cavalry units had been equipped with motorized vehicles. Amazingly, these scouts performed with valor and distinction as the Japanese invaded in 1941-1942. Without motorized vehicles, they were able to operate behind the enemy lines and bought time for their beloved Philippines. In incredible battle, the 26th was able to drive the Japanese invaders back from Morong, Bataan on January 16, 1942. Sadly, they were finally forced to dismount shortly after this victory. Their horses and mules were slaughtered for food for the besieged Bataan defenders.
The Clark Parade Grounds
Now the huge grassy tree-lined Stotsenberg Park, this was the original site of the military base at Fort Stotsenburg, later to become Clark Air Base.
Col. Stotsenberg Monument
Located on the West side of the Parade Grounds close to the CDC buildings, this monument details and honors Col. John M. Stotsenberg who died April 23, 1899 in a battle in the Philippine province of Bulacan.
Designating the entrance to the original Stotsenberg military base, these markers now sit at the southern entrance of the Parade grounds along Ninoy Aquino Avenue, just down the street from the Clark Development Corporation offices.
History of the Stotsenburg Posts
Dating back to 1902, until the Japanese occupation in 1942, these posts stood proud, denoting the entrance to Fort Stotsenburg which later became known as Clark Field. Back then, they were positioned at what was the Dau Gate entrance.
When the Japanese took over control of the Air Field, they removed them from their long-standing location and buried them, using them as landfill.
Many years after the war in 1965 they were found and located at the American Legion Post located at the time near the Personnel Office, not far from the Clark base gym. In 1984 these historic and proud markers were repositioned to their current location on the south side of the entrance to the Stotsenberg Parade Grounds in Clark Zone.