WHEN I was in Manila, one of the places where I bring friends and guests is the Corregidor Island. This tadpole-shaped piece of earth is a place that bears a huge significance to Philippine history. Located at the mouth of Manila Bay, its strategic location made it the viable site where ships entering the bay can be checked, thus, the name Corregidor. But there are many other stories on how the island’s name came about.
The easiest way to get to Corregidor is from the CCP Complex where ferries ply to and from the island. It’s more or less an hour at sea before one reaches the pier. Taking the tram to tour the whole island is the best way to explore Corregidor.
Found at the Topside are sights like the parade grounds, the landing area of American paratroopers; the Mile-Long Barracks, which is a postcard image of Corregidor; the memorial on the Rock Force; the Eternal Flame of Freedom sculpture; the dome-shaped chapel which looked like an observatory; the Pacific War Memorial Museum; The Cine Corregidor which used to show movies; the Bachelor Officers Quarters; and the Spanish Lighthouse. There are also artillery batteries as well as recreation areas in this part of the island. From here, one can get a view of the West Philippine Sea and the tail end of Corregidor.
Many ruins are found in the Middleside, such as those of the old YMCA Building and the Middle Side Barracks. It is also here where the Battery Way and the Battery Hearn were built, along with a service club, a hospital, and two schools. There are also portions here which are covered by trees and plants.
The Bottomside contains many ruins and a bit of a jungle where monkeys abound. Since this part of Corregidor houses the ports, ships and ferries dock at the pier. The Lorcha Dock is where the statue of General MacArthur can be found. Here you will see the San Jose Chapel, the office of the Corregidor Foundation, the power plant, the engineering dock, and the Corregidor Inn. There’s also a beach here with some cottages for rent. But most of the visitors spend some time at the Corregidor Inn, either to enjoy its meals or to stay for the night.
The Malinta Tunnel runs through the Malinta Hill which separates the Bottomside from the Tailside. The tunnel used to be the seat of government under President Quezon’s time, as well as a hospital, an office, and host to many activities during the war, through its many laterals and sub-laterals. We even tried walking in one of the sub-laterals in a pitch dark environment. A tour of Corregidor is never complete without one going through the lights and sounds show inside Malinta Tunnel.
At the Tailside are the Monkey Point, where the Japanese kept Filipino soldiers as prisoners; the Filipino Heroes Memorial; the Japanese Garden of Peace; and the Kindley Field, which is the airstrip.
A tour of Corregidor Island is a trip down history lane, bringing us to that turbulent era when our country was at war. We salute our brave soldiers, both then and now, who continue to fight for our nation’s freedom.
All photos are by this author. Claire Marie Algarme blogs at http://firsttimetravels.com. Follow her as @firsttimetravel on Twitter and Instagram and like her Facebook page First-time Travels.
Published in the SunStar Bacolod newspaper on June 16, 2017.
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