Tinian’s suicide cliffs revisited
THE noonday heat beating mercilessly did not spoil my excitement as I and two photographer buddies headed toward one of Tinian’s famous historical spots a couple of weeks ago.I had been to Suicide Cliff of Tinian several times before for the past three years, but on each visit, the spectacular panorama never fails to take my breath away.
The place was completely deserted and it was as though we had stepped into a place from the past, with only the Japanese, Korean and Okinawan markers and monuments standing still as silent witnesses to our intrusion.
Dried flowers and a half-burned candle in front of one of the Korean monuments took my attention for a few minutes, the remnants of an offering probably left by some family members of those who were long dead. About 5,000 Korean civilians were reported to have died in the Marianas during World War II. Family members and some peace organizations have erected the monuments to honor the dead.
For the next 30 minutes, nothing was heard except for the strong gust of the wind and the clicking of shutters as we three were lost in our own worlds, busily capturing everything on the lens.
A few meters away from the monuments, an unobstructed view of the huge waves crashing on the unforgiving rocks hundreds of feet below, the lush foliage on the cliff sides and the deep blue sea stretching out to forever never fail to entice any visitor to gaze in wonder at the spectacular view of this historical spot that gets thousands of visits from tourists from all over the world each year.
It is hard to imagine that over 60 years ago, the place became the focus of unspeakable horror as the foaming waters turned red with blood as thousands of Japanese civilians and military who believed the propaganda that the American soldiers would torture them chose to jump off from the cliff rather than surrender.
Over six decades have passed and the horror of the mass suicide may have faded and its memories documented on the pages of history, but try visiting the Tinian Suicide Cliff today. The beauty of the place cannot blot out the horrifying event and you can’t help but shiver even in broad daylight.s