Friday, January 29, 2010

Wow Corregidor!

One destination often neglected because of its proximity with the metropolis is the historical Corregidor Island. Bubbles and I had the opportunity to visit the island and made this our last out-of-town destination in 2009, before she departed for the States.

Getting to the island is relatively easy and cheap. For only P2,495, you can be able to go overnight in the island. The packages comes with a free day tour, buffet lunch (Day 1), and accommodation in the Corregidor Inn. If you want additional attractions/activities, you can pay extra P150 for the lights and sound show in the Malinta Tunnel. Also, an evening and day two morning tour which includes sunset-viewing, hospital ruins tour, Malinta tunnel-by-night tour, sunrise viewing, and cave dwelling costs only P150!

Meal prices range from P100-250, depending on your appetite. All in all, you will get to spend between P3,000-P3,500, and in exchange for that, you get to catch a glimpse/experience a piece of our nation's history.

I'd say every Filipino should visit Corregidor at least once in their lifetime. The island experience will make anyone appreciate the gallantry, courage, and nationalism of our Filipino soldiers during the Second World War.

What is corregidor island anyway?

Well, based on history books and wikipedia, Corregidor is the nation's last fighting island. It was the last island to be occupied by the Japanese in December of 1941. It was the island where the last few executive decisions were made by then Philippine President Manuel Quezon before the country was forcefully turned over to the Japanese. This was a military stronghold, a fortress.

The island was, during that time, high-tech. Irrigation and sewerage were well-engineered, high-powered batteries/cannons were in place, soldiers and their families had all sorts of recreation from stadiums, movie houses to gymnasiums. It had schools, hospitals, markets. It had a strong tunnel system via the Malinta Tunnel, with a decent railing system. It was a society on its own. It was more like the Subic/Clark of the 1930's. But of course, the war broke off and all that were beautiful were brought to ruins.

The morning tour took us to significant monuments, batteries, and other sites in the island:

1. Japanese Monument - Several years after the war, families of the Japanese soldiers who died in Corregidor put up a foundation in Japan to finance a historical monument to honor the bravery of their own Japanese soldiers.


2. Battery Way - One of the several batteries in the island. Battery is not the small cell-charged power sources we know, but these are what lay men would call cannons. Battery Way had four strong cannons that fired up all the way to Bataan to defend against Japanese forces. This was one of the last few cannons that surrendered to the Japanese.


3. Malinta Tunnel - The Malinta Tunnel had a lights and sound show, directed by National Artist Lamberto Avellana. It narrated and demonstrated via life-sized statues and pictures how life was lived inside the tunnel.


4. The Middleside Barracks - this used to be the barracks for the enlisted men in the island. a myriad of shelling by the Japanese turned what used to be a haven for military personnel into ruins.


5. The Battery Grubbs - this is where we can find what Americans called the disappearing gun because of its high-technology capability of hiding in the walls of the battery after firing a strong blow. Japanese had a hard time looking for this cannon that fired all the way to Bataan and nearby islands.
6. Battery Hearn - This battery possesses one of the longest guns in the island! It was said to have a reach of as far as Batangas and Ternate, Cavite.


7. The Pacific War Memorial - Being a war veteran himself, then President Ferdinand Marcos constructed memorial for all the heroes in Corregidor. It was built with the help of famous Architect Leandro Locsin.


This monument symbolizes the camaraderie of Filipino and American soldiers during the war. In this statue, a Filipino guerilla helps the wounded American soldier.

8. Spanish Lighthouse - It was built by the Spaniards during their occupation. This was used as a guide by boats docking the shores of what used to be a penal colony. Eventually it also became an island for customs inspection and a site for docking boats to have their documents checked and corrected. Thus, the name Corregidor, which came from the word "corregir, "meaning "to correct."

It is seldom that we see an island so beautiful, yet so full of stories to tell. Corregidor not only made me appreciate the beauty of our islands, but it also made me realize how our grandfathers bravely fought and died for our sovereignty and freedom.

If I were a teacher, I would require my students to visit this island. It has much more value than a physics experiment in a theme park, and much much more than a study tour in a mall!

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