The first time I was in Corregidor was in 2007 where I helped organize an Amazing Race activity for work. So that whole time I had zoomed through the place in a hurry to find clues and reach a finish line with nearly a hundred other people. In short – I don’t recall a great deal about the place.
So this time, my second time, I visited with my son while on vacation and with a leisurely pace I was able to absorb more about the history and wonders of this World War 2 heritage site.
We took a day tour via Sun Cruises on an overcast morning, leaving Manila at about 730 am (be warned that there’s no breakfast on the boat so eat beforehand!). It’s a 1 hour boat ride to Corregidor, which is near the Cavite area.
We were on one of 8 buses/ trams, each one with a tour guide. Our tour guide was Robert who had been touring people on the island since the 70s.
In Robert’s humorous narrative he shared that Corregidor was one of the country’s last defenses against the invading Japanese during World War 2. The island had a mix of Filipino and American soldiers working together in the defense. Corregidor’s fight against the invaders lasted 5 months but the the conquerors eventually prevailed, only to be driven out later on when American forces returned to the island.
One of the first stops in the tour was the crumbling ruins of the barracks that had been bombed.
We went on to see a succession of gun areas.
We went on to the Japanese cemetery/ memorial area which was undiscovered until 1986. It was discovered by our tour guide Robert!
Not far away was the Filipino soldiers memorial area which if I’m not mistaken was built by President Corazon Aquino in the late 80s.
We then went to the restored Malinta tunnel for a light and sound show (which I did not experience the first time around). It was walk-stop-walk kind of tour where we stopped at designated points to see statues illuminated to dramatize the sequence of historical events in Corregidor in the lateral/ side tunnels. Some of the interesting trivia shared was that the Malinta tunnel was bomb proof because it had 300 feet of rock on top of it. Thus, President Quezon hid there for a time with his family.
After the show, we got to peek at the remaining lateral tunnels which are untouched and still show total destruction within. Our guide said that when the Americans came back after the Japanese conquered the island, the Japanese wouldn’t leave the Malinta tunnel so the Americans poured gasoline and other explosive material down the air shafts from the surface and blew the place up. And so the Japanese were driven out in the end.
Later on I noticed that there were Japanese visitors on the other buses. I wonder what they think about all this story?
We then went off for a good eat-all-you can lunch at the hotel on top of the hill. We were only given 45 minutes to eat, everything was so well-timed as we had to catch the 2:30 pm boat ride back!
The last 2 stops were to see the memorial marker of Gen. Wainright and Gen. MacArthur.
The tour ended at 2 pm and we were all back on the boat by 230 pm and back in Manila by 4:00 pm.
This is a good trip for people interested in the war (like my son). It was definitely well-organized. I find it a good day trip but probably not an overnight destination for me given the possibility of seeing a lot of ghosts.
I got this deal on metrodeal.com (about P1,450 ++ per person). Definitely worth visiting!