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MICRONESIA Saipan

Trekking to Mt. Tapochao, Saipan’s highest point

ALL roads lead to Mt. Tapochao as the Roman Catholic community makes the annual hike to observe the Holy Friday each year. Curious observers tag along with their friends and families.

The ground at the foot of the cross is level, which signifies that it does not matter what race, nationality, age, gender, or religion you come from, you are free to join the devotees in their yearly ritual.

Every year for six years I went up as an observer of all the interesting events that take place at the peak during holy week, but I’ve also gone up several other times.

360-degree view from the top

Mt. Tapochao is the only spot on Saipan that offers a full 360-degree view of the whole island from atop.

It always feels exhilarating to stand at the highest peak on the island. I never get tired of breathing in the cool mountain air and enjoying the free 360-degree panoramic view.

Mt. Tapochao does not only represent a religious significance for the people. What made it more significant is the role it played during the bloody World War 11 battle.

An old marker at the top of the mountain tells the story of how the spot once had given both the Japanese and the Americans a powerful military advantage to observe all the troop movements all over the island.

The marker narrates that Japanese spotters positioned themselves on the spot where the marker stands to direct cannon fire to the advancing American forces. It took 10 days of brutal uphill fighting for the American Marines to hammer their way from the Invasion Beach in Chalan Kanoa before they finally captured Mt. Tapochao on June 25, 1944.

Standing at the top of the mountain is like taking a trip over decades of years back. You get a vision of the bloody World War 11 in the Pacific.

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