This Food Rider Photographs Lost and Forgotten Historic Places
Raywollesen Fortes notices things that are forgotten by many. A worn-out stone marker gathering dust beside a national highway. A forlorn dam built 200 years ago that everybody has forgotten about. A tragic shrine where Asia’s most feared general was executed.
Before the pandemic, Fortes worked for a cable company’s engineering department. They were tasked to generate layouts of cable plans they would install in villages or subdivisions. Every day, he would study Google Maps to generate a plan for cable layouts.
The 40-year-old rider says he discovered his passion for history in 2013 when a lot of history groups started appearring on Facebook.
“I was banned on Facebook for a month, so I had nothing else to do,”says Fortes while laughing. “I have this tonload of photos, I can do the reviews, and so I did the Google Maps thing,” said Fortes.
But in 2020, Fortes resigned from his job at the cable company and suddenly had a lot of time on his hands to do leisurely walks or bikes around the province. He also became a part-time food delivery rider, which allowed him to roam the city and look for little-known or forgotten historic places.
“That’s when I figured out that since I go to these places, I started taking pictures. I’ve been going to places and checking them out. I get to see a lot of Google Maps. I get to check them out using Google Maps,” says Fortes.
Fortes is actually the man who took this photo of a bizarre Rizal marker in Muntinlupa in the Province of Rizal.
An Art Deco-Style Rizal Marker in Muntinlupa
Languishing on the side of the highway, the marker is easy to pass as nothing more than a concrete structure gathering dust. But it takes a trained eye to appreciate the strange monument: The studded letters, the banded pillars, the linear motifs, a laborer turning the wheels of industry—the style points to the period of Art Deco in the Philippines, which flourished from the 1920s to the 1950s.
The monument is not actually referring to Jose Rizal, national hero of the Philippines, but to Rizal Province, which was once one of the largest provinces in the country.
But one of his most interesting finds is the seemingly abandoned site of General Yamashita’s execution. Considering how Yamashita was feared all over Asia, it was disappointing how the shrine languishes in forlorn condition. He was able to find this site using Google Maps.
“Again, Google Maps! It started with Google Maps. I was hunting around for that site,” says Fortes.
One of the members in a Facebook history group posted photos of the execution site of General Homa and General Yamashita’s execution site in the Philippines after the end of World War II. Fortes learned that it was in Los Banos, Laguna, very near where he resides.
“That’s just one town away! So I said I needed to find that site no matter what it takes. When I found it, I was just hiking or walking. I had business then with TESDA, which was located in an old town in Los Banos. Once I was done with business, I will hunt for that site. I hiked on Mt. Makiling starting from Jamboree Road, and then with another turn, I was on Yamashita Street. Just follow that road and you will find the semi-abandoned Yamashita execution site or shrine.”
The following are photos of the Yamashita shrine Fortes uploaded on Google Maps for public reference.
“According to locals, it used to be frequented by Japanese nationals but only a few droves. For Filipinos, the site is not in our consciousness,” says Fortes.
A Photo of General Yamashita
Below is a self-made documentary on the visit to the Yamashita execution site in Laguna.