Sunday, July 28, 2013

Corregidor



I'm a war freak. While most of you may think of that sentence under a negative light, allow me to explain, I like wars. Not fighting a war mind you, but studying and appreciating the history of it. I enjoy discovering how life was lived during the troubled times when a war was waged, I like dissecting the different tactics that generals used to out smart their enemies and I like appreciating how peaceful it is no that there are no wars. Sounds like I'm a hypocrite doesn't it? Ah well..

Appreciating history is something that runs in the family. When my adventurous aunt invited me to visit 'The Rock', as Corregidor is fondly known, I couldn't resist. So on a not so sunny Thursday, my aunt, our friend and I set out to Manila Bay to join the Sun Cruises Corregidor Tour. Since this is a pretty long post, I'll go through the events which transpired chronologically.

We got to the port at 7:30 AM for check in. We boarded a tiny ferry that would take us to the island of Corregidor which was around one and a half hour away. We embarked at 8:00 AM and arrived on the island at 9:00 AM. Our tour guide explained that the island was a dead volcano. Therefore she told us to expect the temperature to be pretty hot. She was right. It was hot and humid but thankfully the breeze from Manila Bay cooled us down a bit.

First up on the tour was a visit to the Guns of Corregidor. The guns were installed in groups called batteries. This one below is Battery Smith if I'm not mistaken. Fun fact: According to our guide, These guns were meant for naval bombardment only. They were installed by the Americans prior to WW1 and were pretty much useless during WW2 due to a treaty preventing Americans from fortifying Pacific island garrisons with updated weaponry. In other words, come World War II, the Japs bombed the hell out of them from the air.

These guns held a strategic location due to Corregidor being in the entry point of Manila Bay. Had any ships attempted to assail Manila during WW2, I'm sure these guns would've put a stop to them.





They had a lot of batteries on the island. I forgot how many guns. Before Corregidor surrendered, the Americans made sure to disable all their remainin operational guns so that the Japs wouldn't be able to use them.


Next on our agenda were the Mile Long Barracks. These pictured below were the officer's quarters. They had billiard halls, swimming pools, libraries and recreational halls. A paradise for American officers. Whats sad is that these ruins will no longer be standing in 7 years time. They had a land surveyor take a look at the ruins and they found out that the place is rapidly deteriorating. They particularly get the hell beaten out of them everytime a storm comes in.


Pictured below is the Spanish Lighthouse. This was a reconstructed building of what it looked like before the Americans came. The name Corregidor actually came from the Spanish word for 'Corrector' since ships entering Manila Bay would have to line up at the island to have their papers 'corrected' by Spanish authorities.



In case you're wondering how we got around the island, we shuffled around in these little train vias. Reminiscent of the old transportation system of Manila.


One of the beaches of Corregidor which used to be a private rest house of the Romualdez's.


Neighbor island of Corregidor. The name escapes me. Used by the USA & Filipino Armed Forces for the Balikatan exercises. No one is allowed on the island unless they have a special pass. Secret stuff goes on here.


Shrine to the Filipino Heroes during WW2. Most notably the Filipino guerillas.


The infamous Malinta Tunnel. Too bad we didn't take pictures in there. This was a huge tunnel where they could store aircraft and ammunition. To my estimate, you could fit 10 football fields inside. This was the safest place you could be during a artillery bombardment.


Here's where we stayed. Corregidor Inn. Nice little hotel (the only on the island) operated by Sun Cruises. The overnight package costs 2,500 if I'm not mistaken.



Great view of the Pacific Sea from the dining area of Corregidor Inn. The tour only includes a lunch buffet on day 1. The rest of the food you have to buy from the hotel or the small cafes around the island. Food is a bit pricey but plentiful and satisfying.


Visited the Corregidor Island Hospital next. This was one of the first buildings to be bombed by the Japs. They transferred operations to the Malinta tunnel afterwards. This was also the site of the Jabidah massacre. Pretty creepy stuff.




Next morning, we had a supposed sunrise viewing at the Pacific War Memorial. Beautiful monument to the brave men and women who gave their life during WW2. Serene and well maintained grounds. Very humbling and saddening to walk through these quiet halls.


Beautiful inscription on the altar of the memorial. You can see the eternal flame of the monument in the background.


This monument below shows a US soldier helping his injured Filipino counterpart. Whats cool is that in the US, they have the same monument erected except its a Filipino soldier helping a wounded American counterpart.


Spent the rest of the day just exploring the island on our own without the pesky crowds of other tourists. You can arrange a pick up and drop off car from the hotel for just 500 pesos. Be warned though its hot work slogging from one attraction to the next. It is extremely fun though since you can go at your own pace and take in the energy of the historical places in a better manner.

The trip was amazing. On my next to do list is to buy a book about Corregidor and learn more and then finally take my younger brother (who is a war freak like me) there. Can't wait to head back to The Rock!



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