Metro Manila is probably known for its insane traffic and overly crowded places which are not really surprising knowing that it is the center of economic, political, social, and cultural activities in the country. Interestingly, despite all the traffic and the insane crowd, Metro Manila offers a great number of places that you can visit whether you simply want a quick escape from the busy city or you want to discover a great piece of history. Metro Manila is the home of some of the interesting historically-significant places that are absolutely worth-visiting. There’s the historical Intramuros in Manila (Check: Let’s Explore Manila series), the Arroceros Forest Park in Ermita, the Paco Park (Check: Paco Park Cemetery), the Rizal Park, and more.
I know it is weird to include a cemetery on your itinerary but the Manila American Cemetery in Taguig is definitely worth a visit. It’s not like we’re doing a ghost hunt or anything but it is more like an oasis of peace amidst the busy city of Taguig. Located in Taguig city (formerly known as Fort Mckinley), Manila American Cemetery covers over 152 acres of land with an astounding number of more than 17,000 graves making it the largest overseas US military cemetery in the world.
All these 17,206 graves belong to American soldiers who fought in World War 2. Many of the personnel whose remains are interred or represented were killed in New Guinea, or during the Battle of the Philippines (1941–42) or the Allied recapture of the islands. What really makes it unique and distinctive from the typical cemeteries in the Philippines is the landscape itself and how the graves are being laid out. Although it looks unique for most Filipinos, the layout for Manila American Cemetery was actually patterned to US National cemetery system. It is currently maintained by the American Battle Monuments Commission, the organization in charge of military cemeteries and other memorials outside the United States.
The marble headstones are aligned in 11 plots forming a generally circular pattern, set among masses of a wide variety of tropical trees and shrubbery. At the center of the cemetery is a chapel, map rooms, and two hemicycle structures containing rectangular Trani limestone piers with names of 36,286 missing soldiers inscribed on them.
The marble headstones. Eleven burial plots are arranged in concentric rings around the memorial and mall. The majority of the white marble headstones were quarried and fabricated in Italy and a small quantity from Romblon, Philippines.
Most of the headstones here features Latin crosses and only 166 of them feature Stars of David (indicating that the soldiers were Jewish). 570 of these graves belong to Philippine Nationals who were serving in US Forces in the Southwest Pacific. There are also 29 Medal of Honor recipients.
The line of graves! The architect behind this landscape was Gardener A Daily from San Francisco.
Just take note that this is STILL a cemetery dedicated to all the brave American soldiers who fought and killed during the world war 2. This is not an attraction so you must always pay respect when visiting this place.
At the heart of the Manila American Cemetery lies a white masonry chapel dedicated to Saint George. You can see his bas-relief on its facade representing St. George as an American warrior, fighting his enemy the dragon. Above them are the ideals for which he fought:Liberty, Justice, and Country. Inside is an altar with image depicting Madonna ( a representation of Mar) decorated with mosaic on a predominantly blue background.
Near the chapel are small rooms that feature Ten-foot-high mosaic maps portraying important campaigns during World War II in the Pacific.
The two hemicycle structures feature rectangular Trani limestone piers containing names of 36,286 missing soldiers who gave their lives in the service of their country, including 21 Medal of Honor recipients. Twenty nine Medal of Honor recipients are buried or memorialized at the Manila cemetery. Also honored are the five Sullivan Brothers, who perished when the light cruiser USS Juneau was sunk in June 1942.
Carved in the floors are the seals of the American states and its territories.
Things you should know before visiting the Manila American Cemetery in Taguig
►The Manila American Cemetery is open for everyone from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., except December 25 and January 1.
►When the cemetery is open to the public, a staff member is on duty in the visitor building to answer questions and escort relatives to grave and memorial sites.
►A valid photo ID is required for entrance to the cemetery.
►There is NO entrance fee to Manila American Cemetery
NOTE: In keeping with current precautionary measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19, Manila American Cemetery in the Philippines is closed to the public until further notice (Read more)
How to Get to Manila American Cemetery
► Manila American Cemetery is located in the Global City, Taguig, Metro Manila, within the boundaries of the former Fort William McKinley. Travel via Epifano de los Santos Avenue (EDSA) to McKinley Road. Take the McKinley Parkway inside the Global City.