Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Corregidor Island, Cavite


WHERE: Corregidor Island, Cavite
DATE OF TRAVEL: December 30-31, 2008 and April 08, 2011
WHY YOU SHOULD GO:
1. It's a great place to have an adventure and learn about our history at the same time.
2. It's one of the most underrated destinations in the Philippines!
3. All the tour guides of Sun Cruises are well-trained and funny!
4. It's so near Manila YET you're transported to a totally different world!
FEES: Day trips start at P1,999 and overnight packages start at P2,500 (for that small difference, we highly recommend doing an overnight trip!)
NOTE: It gets really hot during summer so make sure to bring lots of water and wear light clothes.

DESCRIPTION: Just 48 kilometers west of Manila and a little over an hour travel by ferry lies one of the Philippines’s most treasured gems and one of the best destinations in the country to learn history: Corregidor, an island which in Spanish literally means “to correct”. One story says it was called Isla de Corregidor because this was where all ships entering Manila Bay stopped to have their documents checked; another version claims that it used to be a correctional institution during the Spanish era. No one exactly knows the real story, but one thing is for sure: ever since man had laid foot on this island, it has become witness to this country’s colorful and oftentimes painful history.

In 1898, the Philippines was bought by the Americans from the Spaniards for $20 million. Shortly after, this island was organized as an American Military Reservation. While it is only 6 kilometers long and 2.4 kilometers wide, $150 million was spent for this tiny island, making it one of the best American bases outside the United States. You probably wonder why, and the answer lies in its strategic location. Corregidor Island is the biggest out of the five islands that surround Manila Bay, then the finest natural harbor in the Orient. It was said that whoever got Corregidor, got Manila Bay, which was why the Japanese were exerting so much effort on Corregidor’s fall. As long as the Japanese were denied the use of Manila Bay, they could not continue their future conquests. Some say Corregidor saved Australia from Japanese attack during the war.

The siege in Corregidor began on December 29, 1941, but the Filipino-American heroes held out until May 6, 1942, 27 days after the famous Bataan Death March, long after their ration and reinforcements were gone. Afraid that the Japanese would capture thousands of helpless, wounded men in the Malinta tunnel, General Wainwright surrendered to the Japanese, making Corregidor the last standing military camp of Filipino and American soldiers in the Philippines.

On February 26, 1945, Corregidor was finally recaptured by the Americans, but as they say, freedom is not free. It took thousands of men and women before peace was regained in this tiny island.

Today, the ghosts of the past are seen through its ruins. Virtually left untouched since their destruction, this island transports you back in time, as if war has just ended. But even though this place serves as a perfect destination to get hold of the past, Corregidor is anything but dark. With a population of only a little over a hundred (with no permanent residents), one can expect a well-maintained, nostalgic, peaceful and quiet surrounding.

Corregidor is definitely a must-see for history buffs, and it is also the perfect weekend getaway for photography enthusiasts, adventure seekers, nature lovers, hopeless romantics and Filipinos looking for some patriotic inspiration.

Below are the best ways one can experience Corregidor:

1) Join The Historic Daytour of Corregidor –Especially for first timers, this is the best way to see Corregidor. With a replica of the historic tranvia as your transportation and knowledgeable tour guides to take guests around, one will not go wrong with this tour. You will be taken to all the major points of Corregidor Island including the ruins of the barracks, headquarters and cinema, batteries, tunnels, memorials and museums.


2) Experience The Malinta Tunnel Lights & Sounds Show – For an added P150.00 during the Historic Daytour, this 30-minute light-and-sound show chronicles the significance of the Malinta Tunnel during World War II. This is where former President Manuel L. Quezon and Vice President Sergio Osmena took their oath for their second term in office. Named Malinta because many leeches (which in Filipino is called linta) were found in the area, this tunnel served as a hospital, arsenal and fuel reservoir where thousands of Filipinos, Americans and Japanese died.


3) Stay Overnight and Avail of Corregidor Inn’s Activity Package Tour – For an additional P150.00, this tour will take you to Battery Grubs to watch the Manila Bay sunset, Malinta Tunnel at night to explore its lateral tunnels (with human bones left on site), Hospital Ruins for some ghost hunting, Eternal Flame to catch the sunrise and a short hike and little adventure at a Japanese tunnel.


4) Join The Corregidor Adventure Challenge – This Amazing Race style of adventure is perfect for a group of 4 or more who want to experience Corregidor in a different light: explore the fortress’s hidden tunnels, discover the shortcuts, view the ruins from the other side, solve puzzles, exercise teamwork and race through the island’s sloping terrain. This activity will definitely test one’s physical, mental and emotional skills. Win or lose, it is definitely a challenge to remember!


5) Climb The Spanish Lighthouse – The view of Corregidor is already breathtaking from the ground, imagine what more once you climb the lighthouse? This lighthouse is no longer the original one, but offers the same effect A few steps up will definitely make a big difference!


6) Spend Time At The Beach – The last thing one associates Corregidor with is beach. But its South Beach is actually a swimmable area near the inn. Once all the daytrippers are gone, you will have South Beach all to yourself. Needless to say, a mat and good book (probably one that covers the history of Corregidor?) can be your best buddies for the afternoon.


7) Take A Photo of Mile Long Barracks – Even though it is not really a mile long, this barracks served as the quarters of 2,000 US officials including General Douglas McArthur. It is the most photographed area in Corregidor. While there, look for the ruins of the swimming pool.


8) Visit Kindley Airfield – Kindley Airfield is not usually part of the regular Tranvia tours, so you might have to ask your guide or driver to bring you there. This airstrip is where the Moro youth were massacred (now known as Jabidah or Corregidor Massacre) on March 18, 1968 by the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) under the Marcos regime. In wanting to reclaim Sabah from Malaysia, the Philippine government wanted to establish special military tasks so they recruited Sama and Tausug Muslims from Sulu and Tawi-Tawi and trained them with a promise of a monthly allowance as well as membership in an elite unit in the Philippine Armed Forces. When these men discovered the real reason behind their training, in addition to the non-payment of their supposed monthly stipend, they demanded to go home because their mission would not only involve killing their fellow Muslims, but killing their relatives and friends living in Sabah (since Sabah is very very near Sulu & Tawi-Tawi). Tricked into going home, they were lead to the airfield where they were executed by machine guns by their military handlers. There was a sole survivor, Jibin Arula, who supposedly jumped from the cliff to the ocean and attached himself to a driftwood long enough to be found by a fisherman from Cavite. As fate would have it, the person who interviewed him about the incident happened to be then a young man, starting his career as a journalist. This young man was no less than Benigno "Ninoy" Aquino, and he played a very important role in letting this story out to the public.


9) Visit The Pacific War Memorial Museum – Even though small, it does make up for the countless war memorabilia you can find inside. Don’t forget to look for the first US flag flown to Corregidor with only 45 stars in it.


10) Learn History Through The Filipino Heroes Memorial - This 6,000-square meter complex has 14 murals depicting heroic battles fought by Filipinos from the 15th century up to the EDSA Revolution. It was designed by Francisco Mañosa, while the murals were sculpted by Manuel Casas. You can also find the Lessons of War exhibit by Lideo Mariano and the newer Sergio Osmeña Park where several statues were raised in memory of Filipino heroes.


11) Explore The Forests – With hike trails ranging from easy to challenging, one can surely imagine what it must have been like for the soldiers who navigated the island. If you’re lucky, you may just find World War II or even pre-war remnants such as dog tags, old grenades, etc which you can surrender to the staff so they can return them where they rightfully belong. They say Corregidor's forest are home to numerous bird species, too. The island, practically uninhabited, surely becomes a favorite of many birds and definitely a paradise for birders too. (no birdwatching tour operated by Sun Cruises as of the moment)


12) Jog/ Bike/ Run – Corregidor’s sloping terrains serve as a perfect jogging, running or biking area for those looking for a challenging yet scenic way to explore the island. While no bikes are being rented out, one is encouraged to bring his/ her own.


13) Walk From Eternal Flame To The View Of Corregidor’s Tail – After visiting the all steel structure designed by Aristides Dimetrios which symbolizes the flame of freedom burning eternally, walk all the way to the tail end of Corregidor, where you will see why it looks like a tadpole from above.


14) Get An Adrenaline Rush At Corregidor’s ROCKet Zipline – While it’s short and low, the slope and the speed will not disappoint. Rocket Zipline is an extra P150.


15) Say A Little Prayer For The Lost Souls of Corregidor at the Pacific War Memorial - Made in memory of the Filipino and American soldiers who died in Corregidor, this was completed in 1968 at the cost of $3 million. The dome is shaped like a parachute (which was crucial in the recapture of Corregidor) and right in the middle of this dome is a hole. Each year, during the Solar Equinox, the sunlight goes directly inside this hole and lights the memorial right beneath it. That date is May 6, exactly the date of the Fall of Corregidor.

Corregidor’s list of activities is continuously growing. Birdwatching and meditation activities are now being developed for tourists to enjoy. Camping, Island Hopping and Rock Balancing are offered to tourists and perfect for those who are staying for more than two nights.

HOW TO GET THERE: The easiest and fastest way to get there is through the Sun Cruises ferry ride which departs from CCP Bay Terminal A, inside the Cultural Center of the Philippines Complex, Metro Manila.

Another way (which is not under Sun Cruises anymore) is to take a ferry from Bataan. Details soon!

CONTACTS: For inquires and reservations, you may call Sun Cruises at+632 8346857-58 or +632 5275555.

HELPFUL LINKS: You may also check their website www.corregidorphilippines.com for more information.

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9 comments:

  1. I was able to go to Corregidor last month and i just can't believe that there is a place soooo near from Manila, yet less people know about its beauty. Corregidor is so beautiful and clean now and you just can't imagine how many people were killed there. Goosebumps when we passed by the 'suicide' area where most Japanese killed themselves when they were defeated

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  2. Yes...it's usually a place people go to because it's a requirement for field trip. But Corregidor is sooo beautiful! As for the suicide cliff, there are actually two sides of the story:

    Suicide Cliff, as the name suggests is believed to be the site where Japanese soldiers had committed “sepuko” or suicide. However, some historians argue that in the morning of February 19, 1945, the D Company soldiers who survived the night at Wheeler Point removed nearly 300 bodies of Japanese soldiers they had killed during the terrible night battle. There was no way the company, probably then less than 70 able bodied men, could have shoveled in the hard ground to bury the corpses. Instead they simply carried the dead Japanese marines and dropped them over the cliff 10 meters south of Wheeler Point. The next people who saw the bodies thought they were Japanese who committed suicide.

    :)

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  3. this is such a cool blog, I enjoy browsing it :)
    More blog entries, godbles...

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  4. very informative and great blog paula&charlie! bata pa ko nung huli kong punta d2 sana makabalik ako sa corregidor to take photos! :)

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  5. thank you tengturista, yes its nice to take photos in Corregidor! Good luck and enjoy! :)

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  6. this post erased my doubts on coming over for a weekend, very informative post...:)

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  7. Hello Paula and Charlie! Your blog is awesome! Very educational and informative! Akala ko yung mga lumang buildings lang ang makikita sa Corregidor but I was wrong - there's so much to explore. We should really go there asap! ϡ


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  8. Wow! I am now developing a new hobby, reading your travel blogs.
    I have just started following you thru IG. seeing your posts there, I envy you!
    Thanks for these blogs.
    I'm gonna share this site and your IG to all my foreign students who are interested in traveling our country <3

    Your travel blogs will be my personal tour guide.
    :)
    More power Paula!

    -valen

    ReplyDelete