Mark Joseph Deutsch
Mar 3, 2019 · 2 min read

In Bataan, there is a Philippine Refugee Processing Center and inside there is a wooden boat that is the same size as a little bus.

This is not a replica, the guide tells us. 34 men, 20 women, 11 children came here on the way to a new beginning and this is the boat that they built and rode.

Their boat was the first to arrive here but throughout the decades that the PRCC operated, close to half a million people lived here, as a halfway point to being relocated to the U.S.

Around the boat are old artifacts, no, sorry, belongings. Old notebooks that the children wrote lessons in, cups, plates, kitchen utensils. Old radios, old televisions, old beds. Old photographs. They are laid out as if the people that once used them would still return.

Outside the Processing Center are fields with overgrown grass, houses with shattered doors and then the monuments.

One of the monuments is, if I may say, “Angkor Wat” but it is not a massive complex as it is in Cambodia. Here, in Bataan, is a replica that is six feet tall, 15 feet across but the details — just like its original counterpart are amazing.

These monuments were built by hand by the refugees. Some for worship but I guess all of them to remind them of where they had come from.

I wondered, as I remembered one drawing by one of the refugees inside the PRCC of a man on a bike, with his wife (I presume) and their children with the words on top that read — with my family everywhere is my home, what would we build if we were taken away from our home?

Just a Travel Journal

Medium is an open platform where 170 million readers come to find insightful and dynamic thinking. Here, expert and undiscovered voices alike dive into the heart of any topic and bring new ideas to the surface. Learn more

Follow the writers, publications, and topics that matter to you, and you’ll see them on your homepage and in your inbox. Explore

If you have a story to tell, knowledge to share, or a perspective to offer — welcome home. It’s easy and free to post your thinking on any topic. Write on Medium

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store