I’ve read about the toad shape of Corregidor several times in history books, but never have I thought that I could reach it through Manila. At the beginning, I thought it was located in Leyte because of McArthur but as I read and researched I found out it was in Manila Bay. So upon my journey back to the Philippines I convinced Ta Gie and Mustard to go with me to visit the island itself.
Fortunately, Sun Cruise – Corregidor Island located by the Cultural Center of the Philippines offer daily tours to the island. We bought our ticket which cost roughly around 3000 pesos each and by 9 we were on our way to the island. The ferry wasn’t that big so it was filled up mostly by people who were touring the island, whether for a day or a more. It was a 45 minute trip and the waves were strong and you will feel it. Ate Gin got seasick that she and Ta Gie went up by the balcony and sit outside just in case. While I roam around the boat which was not that big. Here is an overview of the island we are going to.
“Corregidor is the largest of the five islands guarding the entrance to Manila Bay. A tadpole-shaped isle, Corregidor was once a mere fishing village with a lighthouse and signal station for all ships entering and leaving Manila Bay. American colonizers built full-scale fortifications on the island, complete with long-range tractor guns, anti-aircraft guns, tunnels, an underground command center, and a hospital for wounded soldiers. In the last Pacific War, Corregidor became a vital combat zone between the Japanese Imperial Army and the allied forces. It was the last stronghold to fall in the hands of the enemy. Today, alongside the silent cannons and rusting artillery are numerous memorials for our war heroes. The island is now a favorite tourist destination with a first class hotel and resort facilities. It humbly plays a role in the tourism in the Philippines due to its historical significance.”
There were plenty more of history surrounding Corregidor since the Spanish time to the present but we were not going into full details for that because we were here to explore Corregidor during it’s peak, at the beginning of WWII in the Philippines. We anchored by Lorcha Dock and when I went down the ferry, Ta Gie and Ate Gin were already waiting for me to join them and there were mandatory picture taking by the giant statue Gen. Douglas MacArthur.
Me and Ate Gin had our pictures taken then we all proceeded to the tram car where our tour guide was waiting. There were other people in our tour and what was good about this vehicle was its open on both sides. The tram took us eastward along the shores and then went up a hill to our first destination, The Filipino Heroes Memorial.
The Filipino Heroes Memorial
It was an open space with murals of all the battles the Filipinos fought for.
Battle of Mactan (1521)
“The chieftain of the island of Mactan and his warriors fought Ferdinand Magellan at the Battle of Mactan. The first armed resistance against foreign aggression and domination.”
Datu Sirongan and Sultan Kudarat in Mindanao (16th-17th Century)
“Datu Sirongan (Silonga) the ruler of Buayan, one of the most powerfu and most popular chiefs in the Pulangi Region of Mindanao in the later 16th to the 17th centuries, when he fought several battles againts the Spanish forces led by Rodriguez de Figueroa.
Sultan Kudarat (Corralat) – the greates and the strongest Sultan of Mindanao during the first half of the 17th century who once said: “The loss of our harvests for one year is a small price to pay for liberty.”
Bankao’s Apostasy in Leyte (1621)
“Bankai was a datu of Limasawa and a friend of Miguel de Legazpi. Baptized as a Christian faith in his old age and went back to his folk beliefs, and led a revolt against the Spaniards. The revolt was however immediately quelled by the Spaniards.”
Sumuroy Rebellion (1645-1650)
“The rebellion in Samar led by Sumoroy (Juan Ponce Sumodoy) and Datu Pedro Coamug was resistance against an order of Governor-General Diego Fajardo shifting the recruitment of laborers in the construction of galleons in Cavite to the Visayas.”
Andres Malong of Pangasinan (1660)
“The uprising in Pangasinan led by Andres Malong – a Master of Camp or Commander of Native Soldiers. His followers killed the Alcalde Mayor and other Spanish officials. The revolt spread as far as the Ilocos, but with the arrival of Spanish Military reinforcements, the Natives lost with the capture of their leader, Malong.”
Dagohoy Revolt (1744 – 1829)
“The longest revolt in Philippine history. This revolt was motivated by the Jesuit Fr. Gaspar Morales refusal to give Francisco Dagohoy’s brother a Christian burial. With some 3,000 followers, Dagohoy proclaimed “Free Bohol” and refused payments of tributes and the rendering of Polos y Servicios.”
Diego and Gabriela Silang in the Ilocos (1763)
“The Silang Revolt in 1762 was caused by the imposition of an annual tribute, Polos y Servicios and other abusive practices of the Alcalde Mayor Diego Silang was recognized by the provisional English East India Government as the rightful leader of the Ilocos Government. He was treacherously killed by Spanish mestizo assassins, Miguel Vigos and Pedro Becbec. His wife, Maria Josefa Gabriela and his uncle took over the leadership of the revolt. The first woman to lead a revolt in the Philippines, she was executed together with most of her followers on September 20, 1763.”
Palaris Revolt in Pangasinan (1762)
“Led by a member of the principalia Juan de la Cruz Palaris. The revolt was a protest against the abuses and the imposition of higher tributes of the Alkalde Mayor Joaquin de Gamboa. The revolt spread from the Capital of Binalatongan (San Carlos City) to the major towns of Pangasinan and reaching as far as Tarlac.
Hermano Pule Revolt (1840-1841)
“A religious revolt led by Apolinario de la Cruz (Hermano Pule), who founded a religious brotherhood in Lucban, Tayabas (now Quezon Province) known as Cofradia de San Jose. The Cofradia greatly alarmed the Spanish authorities as it spread to the provinces of Tayabas and Laguna in Lucban, Sariaya and Majayjay.”
Philippine Revolution (1896)
“Started with the Cry of Pugadlawin on August 23, 1896, where the Katipuneros headed by Andres Bonifacio tore their cedulas as a show of defiance and repudiation of the Spanish Colonial Regime. The revolutionist demanded immediate, complete and absolute independence from Spain.”
Filipino – American War (1899)
A state of belligerency between two sovereign nations, the Philippines and the United States, which had just proclaimed its independence on June 12, 1898. Its immediate outbreak was caused by the shooting by an American sentry of a Filipino soldier at about half past eight in the evening of February 4 in an area called Santol in Sampaloc in Manila.
World War II (1941-1945)
“The world will long remember the epic struggle that Filipino and American soldiers put up in the jungle fastnesses and along the rugged coast of Bataan.”
“…By the grace of Almighty God our forces stand again on Philippine soil consecrated in the blood of our two peoples. We have come, dedicated and committed to the task of destroying every vestige of enemy control over your daily lives and restoring, upon a foundation of indestructible strength. The liberties of your people.
“…Let the indomitable spirit of Bataan and Corregidor lead on. As the lines of battle roll forward to bring you within the zone of operations, rise and strike! Strike at every favorable opportunity, for your homes and hearths, strike for future generations of sons and daughters, strike…” – Douglas MacArthur.
“It is a story of a people living in an area occupied by a ruthless enemy, their lives alternately forfeited or threatened, their homes and properties laid to waste. Their dignity and honor shamelessly violated, who nevertheless refused to submit to the enemy.” – Col. Gamaliel Manikan.
EDSA Revolution (Feb 22-25 1986)
“Every Filipino in the world today stands a little taller and a little prouder…Filipinos can their place in the Council of Nations because they are one of the few races who have done the impossible.
It was a lesson in passive resistance that will be the model for all oppressed people of the world, and it is uniquely Filipino.” – Philippine Daily Inquirer.
There were also a couple of statues dedicated to the Filipino Women and Guerrillas. We took some pics then after that we moved on to our next stop. As we go along here is beginning of the battle which made this island well known.
Battle of Corregidor
“During World War II, Corregidor was the site of two costly sieges and pitched battles—the first during the first months of 1942, and the second in January 1945—between the Imperial Japanese Army and the U.S. Army, along with its smaller subsidiary force, the Philippine Army.
During the Battle of the Philippines (1941–42), the Japanese Army invaded Luzon from the north (at Lingayen Gulf) in early 1942 and attacked Manila from its landward side. The American and Filipino troops under the command of General Douglas MacArthur, retreated into the Bataan Peninsula, west of Manila Bay. The fall of Bataan on April 9, 1942 ended all organized opposition by the U.S. Armed Forces in the Far East (USAFFE) to the invading Japanese forces on Luzon in the northern Philippines. They were forced to surrender due to the lack of food and ammunition, leaving only Corregidor and its adjacent islets at Manila Bay as the only areas in the region under U.S. control.”
The next place we visited was the Japanese Garden of Peace. We didn’t stay long at this site and instead just look at the small souvenir booth where they sell souvenirs and mostly the Mickey Mouse Money.
Japanese Garden of Peace
“This monument is dedicated to the souls of the Filipino, American and Japanese, soldiers whose lives were given in a battle which occurred here on May 5, 1942. when our regiment of the 4th Division landed on this island.
We ardently pray for the eternal repose of their souls and everlasting peace throughout the world. May 5, 1991.” Wakayama 61st Infantry Regiment War Comrades Union, Japan.”
After that, we drove to the island’s most famous’ site “Malinta Tunnel.” Of course, this was the most crowded area and we took plenty of pictures but had to wait our turn to do those. We entered through the west entrance and when everyone from the tour was inside. The metal doors behind us closed and he gave us a visual inside the tunnel during the Battle of Corregidor. Here is a brief history of the tunnel.
“Begun in 1922 and substantially completed in 1932. The tunnel complex consisted of East-West passage measuring 836 ft. long by 24 ft. wide 13 laterals on its north side and 11 laterals on the south side. Reinforced with concrete walls, floor and overhead arches with blowers to furnish fresh air and double-track electric car line along the main tunnel, Malinta provided bombproof shelter for the 1,000-bed hospital MacArthur’s USAFFE headquarters. Shops and vast labyrinth storehouse during the siege of Corregidor.
Before this west entrance of Malinta Tunnel on the afternoon of 30 December 1941. Manuel L. Quezon and Sergio Osmena were inaugurated into their second term as president and vice-president of the Philippine Commonwealth in simple ceremonies attended by members of the Corregidor garrison.”
We took pictures again and I will be talking more about the tunnel in the next article, but now after making our way inside the tunnel, the tram took us to the Corregidor Inn. Located on a hill covered with trees, a modern landmark in this bygone island.
There we were given our lunch which was a buffet table. We sat by the terrace and enjoy the breeze and the Filipino dishes. We were given an hour to eat then we continue on our tour of the island. We will be visiting a couple of ruins and this was is easily spotted the gray ruins around the forest.
Middle Side Barracks
“Middleside Barracks, located on a plateau in the middle of Corregidor Island, were the quarters of the 60th Coast Artillery anti-aircraft regiment, United States Regular Army, and the 91st Coast Artillery, Philippine Scouts. The barracks, built-in 1915 using advanced concrete construction technology of prefabricated and modular metal lathe reinforcements, consisted of two-story buildings which infused the sensibilities of tropical design through the use of high ceilings, wide capiz shell sliding windows and perimeter galleries to allow good ventilation and protect the rooms from the direct heat of the sun. The Middleside Barracks was destroyed by Japanese bombs on December 29, 1941.”
Commenced 1904, completed 1914 at a total cost of $112,969 and named in honor of 2nd Lt. Henry N. Way 4th U.S. Artillery, who died in service in the Philippines in 1900.
Armed with four 12-inch (305 MM) M1890 mortar carriages which were capable of lobbing at 1,000 lbs. (454.5 kg) deck piercing shell and high explosive shell in any directions. Although designed to penetrate the relatively thin deck armor of warship, their vertical plunging trajectories also made them ideal for use against any enemy entrenched on higher ground in Bataan.
Because concussion when fixed tended to break medical glassware at the hospital located nearby. The battery was placed out of service during Peacetime. It remained unmanned until April 17,1942 when an anti-aircraft search light and radar unit, Batter E 60th Coast Artillery under Major William Massello took over No. 1 mortate was totally unserviceable.”
There were plenty of guns and battery and this area. They were huge and that was the first time I saw those big guns. Then the tram continue on to the ruins of another relic of the American days and destroyed during WWII. The tram park close by and from the ruins of the theater we continue on foot.
“American personnel of the garrison along with their family enjoyed watching movies at Cine Corregidor before World War II broke out. The last movie that was shown was “Gone with the Wind” which starred Clark Gable and Vivien Leigh Moore.
Cine Corregidor is located left of Pacific War Memorial. Today, portions of its concrete walls, stairways leading up to the upper balcony and concrete floor, which used to be the stage, are the remains of the famous movie house.
The movie house also housed two popular relics from the past which are the fully-restored vintage cars which used to be the staff cars of then-President Manuel Roxas and Gen. Douglas MacArthur. Now, these pieces are being displayed on the mainland.”
We went in and visited the Brothers in Arms statue and took some pictures and nearby is the Pacific War Memorial Museum. Inside the museum were a collection of weapons during WWII, a poster of the island, a bust of Gen. McArthur, and a mural of the battles that occurred in the Pacific. Then outside the round dome memorial and memorials to the battles that happened in WWII.
Pacific War Memorial Museum
“Located on the island of Corregidor, at its highest peak, stands the Pacific War Memorial. Built-in 1968 by the US Government, the site was dedicated to the American and Filipino armed forces that fought and died in the Pacific region during the Second World War. At the entrance to the memorial complex, a statue of a wounded Filipino soldier aiding an American soldier has been erected as a symbol of friendship between the two countries. The main memorial structure within the site is a white marble dome with a circular opening in the roof. Directly below the opening stands a marble altar with the words:
‘Sleep, my sons, your duty done. For Freedom’s light has come. Sleep in the silent depths of the sea. Or in your bed of hallowed sod. Until you hear at dawn the low. Clear reveille of God.’
According to folklore, for three years in a row, the sun shone directly onto the altar on May 6th – the day Corregidor was recaptured from the Japanese Imperial Army.
Beyond the memorial dome, a pathway lined with murals leads to the top of the peak. Each mural portrays a Pacific region battle that US forces took part in during World War II. At the end of the pathway, a metal sculpture of the eternal flame looks out to sea. Designed by Aristides Demetrios, the sculpture is meant to stand on the same position where General MacArthur celebrated the retaking of Corregidor. Also located on the memorial site is a small museum that presents a collection of weapons (both Allied and Japanese), photographs, military uniforms and a large tile mosaic representing war scenes from the island during World War II.
Far from the Pacific War Memorial, two other memorial sites have been erected on the island since 1968. One is a shrine dedicated to the Japanese soldiers who lost their lives whilst invading the Philippines and upon the eventual recapture of the island. Standing on the ocean’s edge, the memorial was funded by Japanese survivors. Nearby, the Filipino Heroes Memorial stands as a testament to the Filipino war heroes and martyrs who fought throughout the history of the Philippines. Built in 1992 and designed by architect Francisco Manosa, the memorial consists of 14 murals, each displaying a pivotal battle in Filipino history – from the Battle of Mactan in 1521, all the way through to the 1986 revolution.”
We walked to the Freedom Fire and took some pictures and finally we went to the Corregidor Island Lighthouse, one of the few remaining structures built during the Spanish Colonial period. Here is a brief description of the lighthouse.
Corregidor Island Lighthouse
“It was established in 1853 to guide ships to the entrance of Manila Bay on their way to the port of Manila, the most important trading center in the country. This light occupies the converging point of two lines of approach for vessels from the China Sea which steer for the entrance of the Manila Bay. Vessels from Hong Kong and the ports of China to the northwest first sight the Capones Island light off the southwest coast of Zambales. Vessels from ports of Indo-China first sight the Corregidor lights in the center. Vessels from Singapore, Indonesia, India, and all the ports of the Philippine Islands, to the south, first sight the Cabra Island light.”
Ate Gin and I climbed up the stairs to the top of the lighthouse and took plenty of pictures, then we went back to the others. We were given more time in the area since this is our last stop. I will be talking more about the lighthouse in another blog. So as for us, we visited another souvenir shop before the tram took us back to the pier where our ferry was already waiting. It was true that it will take a whole day to explore the island’s main sights and maybe 2 days or more to visit the others. It was a pleasant trip, on our way back we all seated outside so Ate Gin won’t feel her seasickness that much. The history of Corregidor and its role during WWII was interesting but to experience it and see it first hand was worthwhile.
Here is the link for more information: