Exploring a Japanese bunker at Laolao Bay

NESTLED amid thick foliage and tangan-tangan trees at Laolao Bay is one historical site that not a lot of people know about—a Japanese bunker with its canon aimed straight to the bay.

I’ve been to Laolao Bay countless times before and heard about the numerous cultural and heritage sites but I never knew where they exactly are. Until one afternoon a couple of weeks back when I went on a quick tour with Herman Tudela of the CNMI Historic Preservation Office.

Driving along the Laolao road and several meters past a cave where the last phase of the ongoing construction work is located, we took a left turn and followed a rough road until we came to a small clearing where we parked. Following a small footpath, we passed by several blockhouses made of latte stones—blockhouses which was covered by thick shrubs yet still remained intact and withstood the long years of exposure to the elements of nature.

Going further down, we came to a thick cemented archway that houses on of the Japanese canons used during the World War 11.

I stooped and entered the arch and emerged into the humid chamber of the bunker. It was clean inside and the only structure there was a rusty Japanese canon with its tip protruding from a rectangular outlet and aiming straight toward the Bay. The bunker was made of thick cement, so strong that shows promise of staying around for a long time.

If you are not familiar with Laolao Bay, you will not find the place easily. The area outside the bunker is clean but the top is covered in vines and shrubbery, and if you are not trained on detecting bits and pieces of historical artifacts, what would appear as regular stones to the ordinary eye would tell an expert volumes of stories about the past.

Going down a few meters from the bunker, one gets a superb view of the Laolao Bay. It is hard to imagine that back in the 1940s at the height of the World War 11, the place teemed with activity.

The Japanese canon at the Laolao Bay is just one of the many historical sites that get a fair share of tourists each year. All over the area are remnants of pillars of latte stone houses, and other signs of ancient villages. Centuries ago, the place that is now thickly populated with tangan-tangan used to be a habitat for the early Chamorro settlers.

The OurLaolao Campaign organizers are stepping up efforts urging the community to be aware that these historical and cultural heritage treasures exist, and there is a need to preserve them for the future generation.

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