Bataan Refugee Camp 1980 - 1995, Philippines

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Bataan Boat people

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Bataan Camp

The main functions of the camp were to hold the refugee population long enough to complete tuberculosis testing, wrap up bureaucratic requirements before departure, and—assuming the refugee was heading to an English speaking nation—give them an opportunity for English as a second language training. Virtually all refugees had confirmation before arrival at PRPC that they had been accepted to resettle in the West and therefore the mood among the refugee population was frequently upbeat and positive.

It is estimated that between January 21st of 1980 and July 3rd of 1990, the total number 292,185 refugees (182,597 Vietnamese, 70,240 Cambodians, and 39,348 Laotians) were processed at PRPC.


Viet refugee’s cross Bataan’s tribute to John Paul II

Three months before Pope John Paul II arrived in the Philippines in 1981, a Vietnamese refugee scoured the rain forest of Bataan province in search of the best hardwood tree to fashion as a gift to the visiting Pontiff.

By Feb. 21 that year, the tree had been transformed into a 4-foot tall cross with an image of a crucified Christ sculpted in the center in time for the Mass by the Pope at the Indochinese ?boat people? camp at the edge of the South China Sea.

At noon of the same day, the Vietnamese artisan, along with his fellow refugees, presented the wooden cross to the Pope during the offertory part of the Eucharist held at the Freedom Plaza of the Philippine Refugee Processing Center (PRPC) in Morong, Bataan.

Launched in Hermosa town on April 1, the cross has traveled to 18 parishes and is now in Mariveles town before it ends on April 29 in what used to be the site of the PRPC in Morong which has been transformed into an industrial, commercial and tourism park.

For more detail in the story. Please read http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/inquirerheadlines/nation/view/20110426-332989/Viet-refugees-cross-Bataans-tribute-to-John-Paul-II

Camp Layout

Following the road onwards, it was hard to imagine that 18,000 people at a time had lived here; their billets had gone without trace, bulldozed, I was told, some years back. The Camp had been divided into ten neighborhoods, each neighborhood having thirty buildings, with ten billets each, and each billet accommodated six people or more; there they cooked, ate, slept, studied, worried, argued, fought, played, sang, loved, planned, prayed, dreamed, and made do with what they had. During the time I spent there, over 100,000 people from Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos passed through, most spending about six months there, but some getting stuck and having to wait much longer; there were others, too, who never left the Camp, but were resettled, sooner than they expected or wanted, in what came to be known as Neighborhood 11: the cemetery.

For more detail in the story. Please read http://anatta0.tripod.com/bic28-bataan_revisited.htm

PRPC - The Day Before I Left - 1988

PRPC - The Day Before I Left - 1988

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