– Sun drenched days and starlit nights…
— Gooseberry Patch
Hot summer came in early this year with the El Niño phenomenon. A bit under the weather, we needed a weekend adventure to kick start the summer. Oversize sunglasses, summer hat, sun block – all check. Our summer getaway essentials – tickets to Corregidor Island!
I snagged a 50% off tickets to Corregidor Island from Sun Cruises which I chanced upon during the 17th Travel Tour Expo in SMX last February. The promo includes a round trip ferry transfers, shrine, entrance and terminal fees, guided island tour and buffet lunch for only P1,000 each. I still haven’t chosen the date yet but I figure out its a nice birthday gift for Mr. HavenHunter. He is more into history than I am. After all, Corregidor is now one of the Philippines’ premiere national parks.
We almost missed the early morning boarding time on Sunday as a result of partying ’til dawn. But our two hours sleep will not ruin our itinerary for the day and our 4 friends joining us.
7:00am Check-in at CCP Bay Terminal
7:30am Boarding time
8:00am ETD Manila
9:15am ETA Corregidor
*****Guided tour with Lunch*****
2:30pm ETD Corregidor
3:45pm ETA Manila
Sun Cruises has monopolized Corregidor Tours and travels with agents are still booked with them.
We headed to CCP Terminal where Sun Cruises office is located, while I told my friends (Tines and Jill) to stay near the Jumbo Palace Restaurant where the Sun Cruiser II is docked. I didn’t realize the need to drop by the office but since the taxi driver didn’t know where the Jumbo Palace floating restaurant is located, we just decided to get down and walk. We dropped by at Sun Cruises Office where Ada, was already waiting. We were then asked to show our tickets at the counter for our boarding passes and buffet meal stubs. It would be a hassle to let Tines and Jill to travel back at the office when they are already at the boarding area so I just negotiated with the staff to let me have their boarding passes/stubs after giving the booking reference number. We were relieved when they allowed us to. Kathe arrives in the office too, so we hop on to the next coaster to take us to the port.
Tines and Jill were already waiting and after picking up coffee and snacks, we excitedly walked down to board Sun Cruiser II. Most of the participants are foreign visitors, including Japanese nationals and Americans. It made me guilty to not being as much as interested as they were with Philippines history. It may ring a bell, that people travel to find something interesting to foreign land and sometimes ignoring what they have in home. But we are all looking forward to reacquaint with our past and discover Corregidor’s rich historical treasures.
This day was also Pacquiao – Clottey boxing fight. Another reason to get this day started.
Ada and Kathe were seated on the lower deck while Tines, Jill, me and Mr. HH were assigned at the upper deck. Being on the upper deck has an advantage. There is a viewing area to do some photo shoot with the Manila’s skyscraper backdrop plus the unloading of passengers in Corregidor Island is done through the upper deck. One of the Tour guides provided some entertainment by interviewing a US veteran on board.
| Tips : You might want to request for a window seat at the upper deck.
The waters of Manila Bay is calm. One hour of cruising let us doze off for a while and before we knew it, we can already see some islands nearby, Bataan, Cavite and Corregidor.
Corregidor known as the “Rock” is an island remarkably shaped like a tadpole at the entrance of Manila Bay. Corregidor’s strategic location was vital in the defense of Manila during World War II.
The name ‘Corregidor’ came from the Spanish term ‘corregir’, or ‘to correct’, since the island was a checkpoint for vessels entering Manila Bay during the Spanish and American occupations. It became the headquarters of the Allied Forces and also the seat of the Philippine Commonwealth government. It was from Corregidor that Philippine Pres. Manuel Quezon and MacArthur left for Australia in February leaving behind Lt. Gen. Jonathan M. Wainwright in command.
Reaching the island, there were 7 available trams (tranvia) to choose from. We chose the last one with Roberto as Tour Guide. Some tour guides speak japanese, english and tagalog.
Our first stop was Malinta Tunnel. Named as such because of the leaches in the area during the WWII (linta – leach). We have to pay P150 for the lights show and a walk through the tunnel ( a must if it is your first time, otherwise you can just stay at the tram and wait for the others to finish the 30 minutes show ).
The walk through the tunnel offers an interesting historical sound and light show of Corregidor’s past.
We emerged at the other end where the same tram is waiting for us. There is so much to see in the island and one day isn’t enough to cover it all. Our tour guide took us to some of these sites and offered a quick overview. We didn’t go down on some places and to some, we have allotted time for exploration. Most of the tourist areas have souvenir shops that sells key chains, t-shirts, ref magnets, old bills, and more.
Our jump shot at Lorcha Dock, MacArthur’s departure point for Australia. There is a towering monument of MacArthur with his famous line inscribed in it, I shall return.
We dropped by at the only hotel available in the island where tourists who wish to stay overnight are accommodated. Room rate starts at P650 each, which can accommodate a group of four.
The Japanese Cemetery offers a display of guns and artillery. Interestingly a huge Buddha of mercy is built on one corner adjacent to the sea.
We were then ushered to Pres. Sergio Osmena Sr. Memorial Park and Filipino Heroes Memorial. The Museum boast several Paintings and the park features sculptor Manuel Casal’s 14 murals depicting historic Filipino battles.
Lunch was served early by the sea. The beautiful cabanas protected us from the summer heat. The food is a gastronomic delight. We were welcomed with a drink and when we settled to our seats, its time to raid the buffet table. The appetizing delight was wonderful and my company who planned to avail of the zip line from the start wasn’t as eager anymore to do the dare.
Full and refreshed, we continued our tour to the ruins of Middleside Barracks. It reminded me of Siem Reap’s Angkor Wat where through time, roots were growing through the walls of the building. Quite creepy to see, to think that history unfolds in this land.
Next stop was the Battery Way, where the artillery battery of four 12-inch mortars is located. It was the last guns to fire before the island’s fall to the Japanese during the World War II.
We found the largest and last gun assembled before World War II at Battery Hearn. Even at more than six decades after war, it still stands majestically for the curious onlookers.
The Top Side Mile Long Barracks was said to be the longest in the world with its 1,520 foot, three-level building now left in devastated ruins.
The lighthouse which was rebuilt in 1950 is the only remaining functional structure on the entire island of Corregidor. All other structure only serves now as memorials and tourist facilities. The lighthouse offers 360 degrees view of Corregidor Island, Manila Bay and surrounding islands.
The Pacific War Memorial was built to honor the Filipino and American Fighting Men who gave their lives to win the land, sea and air victories which restored freedom and peace to the Pacific Ocean area. There is an open white dome that housed a circular marble altar. This altar symbolizes a wreath of victory with words inscribed in its rim : “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.”
Further at the rear of the dome is the towering steel sculpture of Eternal Flame of Freedom. The elevated area provides a stunning view of Cavite coastline and Bataan Peninsula.
Standing nearby is the Pacific War Museum which carries an extensive collection of relics and memorabilia.
Our last stop was Battery Crockett where the disappearing gun is located. Only Mr. HH decided to go down while us girls decided to stay at the tranvia. We were too lazy to hike up the stairs to where the 12-inch seacoast guns mounted on disappearing carriages behind a concrete defense.
It can be hard to imagine how life has been in this island during the war but this is the closest we can get to the past. Bullet marks are apparent everywhere we go, and for war veterans, their descendants and army visitors it must be an emotional experience. Of the 6000 or more Japanese defenders, only about 40 survived. While we, the present generation, have to realize how war can taint our future.
We saw monkeys on the way to the port. Corregidor Island has rich collection of flora and fauna and its vegetation attracts many species, eagles, monkeys among others.
Just in time for boarding, we reached North Mine Wharf at around 3:15 PM. There was a person selling photo souvenirs for P100. For entertainment, Manny Pacquaio vs. Joshua Clottey fight on TV. We weren’t able to finished it though, as we arrived in Manila port. We heard Pacquiao won. Mabuhay ang Pilipinas!
Lost in an island filled with rich history,