Jesus Villamor was a true Filipino hero. A pilot in the fledgling Philippine Army Air Corps, during the Japanese invasion, while many of the US forces were retreating, he led his squadron of pilots against the Japanese, producing four confirmed kills and resisting until his squadron was completely destroyed. His bravery was recognized, first by the United States, earning him the Distinguished Service Cros, and later by the Philippine Government, naming their primary air base after him: Villamor Air Force Base.
Just inside the gate of the base, just down the road from NAIA Terminal 3, sits the Philippine Air Force Museum: A very well-run and interesting stop for people interested in aviation, the history of the Philippines, or the Air Force in general. The museum is run by Air Force personnel, and is immaculately maintained. Admission is FREE, and well-worth an hour or two browsing around.
So, yesterday, Rebecca and her brother went to Rizal province buying some fishing supplies. Juanito and I had a “father / son” Saturday, and I thought he would like to look at the airplanes. So, we rode the MRT out to Taft (His other obsession is trains, so a big thrill for him), and take a taxi to the base. The museum is open MORNINGS ONLY, and is located in a new building. You walk inside, and the first thing you see is an immaculate P51 Mustang, suspended from the ceiling. Several other aircraft are inside, as are dozens of old uniforms, photographs, and really intricate models and dioramas (Juanito was fascinated by those… They were really quite good). Another half dozen airplane cockpits are inside (Kids can sit in them), along with President Marcos’ old Commander-in-Chief staff car.
Some pictures from our fun little excursion:
So, upstairs and downstairs could take quite a while if you really read everything you see there. Outside, is the aircraft “garden”, with around a dozen old Philippine Air Force aircraft and helicopters, some being quite rare, including the old Presidential Airplane. The Air Force memorial is there too, and the whole museum is, by all accounts, tidy, neat, and really impressive.
This little museum is great for kids, and the staff truly seem to take great pride in maintaining the exhibits. And, being so close to the airport, it would make a good two hour diversion while waiting for connections (Remember, only in the morning, though).