As you all know, I am a huge history fan and I enjoy going to different historical places to learn more about a place’s heritage and culture. Despite this though, I admit that I haven’t visited too many historical sites in the Philippines. This is why I was so looking forward to visiting Corregidor, an island located near Manila Bay and one of the islands that made up the harbor defenses of Manila Bay during World War II.
Last month, I finally got to visit it with J!
We went on a weekend trip to Corregidor and booked an overnight stay on top of the day tour fees so that we could enjoy more of the island at our own pace. The schedule for the day was pretty crazy though; the ferry to the island leaves pretty early in the morning so that meant going to bed early and waking up early… something I hate doing! Night owls should definitely brace themselves when going on this tour! 😂
Anyway, we arrived in Corregidor at around 9:30 AM and we were greeted by open-air trams, which transported us to different attractions on the island!
The tram first brought us to Middleside Barracks, one of the living quarters for the American soldiers during the war. Our guide said that Filipino and American soldiers had separate living quarters at the time not because there was discrimination, but because there were some irreconcilable cultural differences between the two groups (especially when it comes to food. Apparently, Westerners think Filipino food smells… err… unusual 😂)
We went to Battery Way and Battery Grubbs next, where we saw all these cool guns used in the war! Our guide pointed out that the guns were manufactured in 1903, but the war started waaaay later, so it meant that the odds were against the Filipino troops from the start because they had outdated weapons. Nevertheless, the troops made the most of what they had and fought valiantly!
At Battery Grubbs, the guide showed us a view of the surrounding islands. We also saw lots of bomb craters. According to the guide, Corregidor was bombed for many consecutive days during the latter part of the war.
But then, my favorite attraction would probably be the Mile-Long Barracks, one of the fanciest barracks on the whole island. I actually think it looks like a hotel! I can only wonder how it used to look like during its heyday.
Our tram also drove to Pacific War Memorial, where we saw a memorial altar for the fallen troops and a museum telling the tales of the Second World War on this side of the world.
After exploring the Pacific War Memorial, we had lunch and got ready to go to Malinta Tunnel, the tour’s last stop. But then, there was a last-minute announcement that all guests must leave the island because two low-pressure areas were approaching Corregidor, and there won’t be boats to the mainland for 2 to 3 days. They didn’t want to risk our safety so they’re sending everyone home. 😢 It’s a bummer that we won’t be able to stay overnight in Corregidor, but it’s good that they’re concerned about our safety. So, they all took care of our luggage while we drove to the Filipino Heroes Memorial and Malinta Tunnel, our last stops for the day!
The Filipino Heroes Memorial is a tribute to all the heroes who fought for our freedom, from the Spanish period to our independence. It also showed how our countrymen suffered under the hands of our colonizers. It showed me that we should cherish the freedom that we have because many people suffered and died to attain it. Many Japanese tourists actively avoid this part of the tour because the memorial features paintings depicting the Japanese soldiers’ atrocities during the war. Apparently, many of them are not aware that these things even happened and that their soldiers could do such things.
Malinta Tunnel, on the other hand, is a tunnel complex built to store supplies. However, it was converted into a 1,000-bed hospital during the latter days of the war. We bought a ticket to the lights and sounds show where we learned about what happened in Corregidor during WW2, particularly the evacuation of President Manuel Quezon and General Douglas MacArthur, as well as the continuous bombings that happened when the Japanese took over.
The last part of the lights and sounds show showed the American flag being taken down for the last time and the Philippine flag being raised for the first time on the island. It was beautiful. And then, the spotlight shone on this Philippine flag and the national anthem played. It was a very emotional experience for me, to the point that I cried as everyone sang the national anthem. I cried not because I was patriotic; I cried because these fallen soldiers believed that the Philippines could be a free and great nation (and even fought bravely just for us to experience that dream) but with the way things are going now, with all the corruption and the messed up society that came with it, I felt like we’re just wasting everything that they fought so hard for.
Overall, Corregidor was a lovely place and I learned so much about our history that I only ever read about in books. There’s something sad and eerie about the island given all the things that happened, but at the same time, experiencing our fallen heroes’ journey through this place filled me with hope.
Hope… that no matter how screwed up things are at the moment, this nation will always be worth dreaming and fighting for.