|Fort Drum also known as the Concrete battleship and El Fraile Island Fortress|
(Picture is from www.warofourfathers.com)
I have always believed that the only way to successfully move forward is through learning the lessons of the past. Fort Drum strategically situated at the mouth of Manila Bay, the last fort that surrendered to the Japanese in World War II, and the only structure of its kind in the whole world, is in a state of unforgivable neglect and decay. Filipinos have seemed to have forgotten this bastion of valor and pride.
I am ashamed of myself! I am a Filipino who has been living in the Philippines for most of my life, and yet have not known about this Fort Drum until today. iWitness, my favorite award-winning documentary program featured Fort Drum, the so-called Concrete Battleship. I have always thought that the Island of Corregidor in Bataan was the last to have surrendered to the Japanese in World War II. I was wrong. It was in fact Fort Drum, the last "man" standing, so to speak.
What is so much interesting about this fort is the way it was built. It was an engineering marvel! The whole island of El Fraile was leveled by the Americans, poured tons of concrete, and shaped the island similar to a battleship. Huge and massive cannons (14" guns) were mounted on top of the heavily fortified (thick, thick-walled) fortress. The walls of the fortress is said to be impenetrable. It withstood attacks from Japanese warships. It was said that the only reason it fell was due to the lack of drinking water when the surrounding fortresses have already fell to the hands of the Japanese. Imagine how strong the fortress is. When the Americans have recaptured it, they poured tons of gasoline inside aimed to destroy it along with those remaining enemies hiding inside. The explosion apparently did not harm the structure. Historians have said that this is the only structure of its kind that is fortunately for us, still standing today. What is sad about it is how it is forgotten now and apparently abused.
It is forgotten because the other surrounding fortresses in Corregidor are being preserved and officially considered as national heritage shrines. Whereas Fort Drum is obviously abandoned. It is abused because locals from surrounding provinces are stealing whatever metal pieces they could find. Some guns are now missing, even steel beams inside the fort were apparently cut and believed to have been sold to junk shops.
The Concrete Battleship should be considered as a world heritage site. It is an important part of history not only of the Philippine's but of the world's. It's an amazing structure that's unique. I believe that this should be preserved. The entire world should know about Fort Drum - the Concrete Battleship.
Let's start saving Fort Drum by letting the world know of this one-of-a-kind structure. Please, let us join hands in saving Fort Drum. Save the Concrete Battleship!
The fort was named in honor of USA's Brigadier General Richard C. Drum. The Concrete Battleship was built in 1909 and completed in 1916.)
(Note: The beautiful picture is from www.warofourfathers.com, specifically http://www.warofourfathers.com/war/027philippines.html. There are also tons of information about Fort Drum in www.concretebattleship.org which includes blue prints of the awesome island fortress.)