If I have not lost all my photos from Corregidor, my second visit should have been an overnight on the island. I was so sure that I have a back-up of these photos, so when I was searching for them voila! Cold sweat ran down my spine as my eyes blindly played with vision. There was nothing on my hard drive. No trace of any memories from my very first visit.
To get over my gloom, I decided to book myself another tour to Corregidor Island. Thank goodness that there was a promo of the tour online with the same agency that we booked before. I immediately bought the promo voucher and set my schedule with them instantly. This time I was alone since it was a quick decision of mine. There are numerous differences from my first visit that I kept pointing out to myself. But, let’s get my first and second experiences sorted out. I’ll start out my topic now of my Corregidor Island day tour with Sun Cruises.
HISTORY OF CORREGIDOR ISLAND
Let’s start off with a little background check of Corregidor Island. There’s a long history of this island and it’s a place rich with stories to tell.
Corregidor Island is located on the southwestern part of Luzon that can be reached by boat on Manila Bay. The island is shaped like a tadpole with its tail pointing towards east. It is so strategically placed that it is a support for harbor defenses of the capital. Its duty was to guard and shot down enemy warships trying to enter the capital of Manila.
Due to the island’s main role of military defense, the whole island of Corregidor is an instrument of war and defense. From cannons, artilleries spread across the island, strategically-placed hideouts, barracks, etc. Its history is of much importance during World War II, it was also the time when the island was heavily bombarded on air by the Japanese that it was left in ruins.
The fortress’ strength was to attack and defend on the sea. It was so weak against Japanese air attacks that there was no way for it to fight back. Its story ends on it collapsing, ending its pivotal role as a defense fort on May 6, 1942.
As of now, Corregidor Island stands as a military memorial to all those who fought the battle. These are the Americans who fought with us, the Filipinos who offered their lives for our country and the Japanese soldiers who also lost their lives on the battle. Corregidor Island is one of the most historic tourist spots in the Philippines, and I urge you to visit it! The ruins are still there, but fresh new buds have grown on the island and the guides will explain in detail the history of Corregidor.
Corregidor is an unforgettable mark in history for the Filipinos, Americans and the Japanese. It records the struggles and the results of what war can do.
CORREGIDOR ISLAND DAY TOUR WITH SUN CRUISES
I’ll talk more about Sun Cruises agency later, for now let’s continue with the tour they have arranged for us. I only got a schedule in the afternoon with them since my promo voucher will expire on the weekend I bought it. And so, the chronology of the itinerary this time is a lot different from my first visit. Unfortunately, the weather was not great the day I visited that I missed taking a shot of certain places. The photos below are heavily edited to make it look sunny I think this is the reason for the “promo voucher”.
MALL OF ASIA (MOA) SEASIDE TERMINAL
When you book a Corregidor tour, its starting point is always on the seaside terminal in MOA. The ferry departs from here and this is also the spot where you can check-in from the agency you booked your tour from. You’ll also get your map and sticker that contains your name and seat number on the boat and bus number on the island.
This is the assigned ship that day which is named “Montenegro” that will take us to Corregidor Island. Not sure if this is the name of the ship or the shipline’s name. Truthfully, this ship is twice smaller than the previous. My first visit to Corregidor was also a promo ticket and the ship was far better from before. But critique aside, this ship gives me the 80-90s vibes or is that just me?
ARRIVAL ON CORREGIDOR ISLAND AND SUN CRUISES’ TOUR BUS
It roughly takes around 2 ½ hours from the ferry terminal before you can reach Corregidor Island. I was expecting to watch again the history movie inside the ship like the first time I went here. Instead, it was a Chinese movie full of weirdness and if I remember correctly, there was even no subtitle. When you get off of the ship, you’ll immediately notice this lovely view of Bataan. Yep, Corregidor Island is overlooking Bataan, another historical site connected to World War II. I haven’t visited Bataan yet so I don’t know if Corregidor is visible from there as well.
Waiting for you are Sun Cruises’ Tour Bus with its bright orange and colorful details. The bus is comfortable enough if there are not that many passengers. Sadly, it was fully booked when I visited. I think it also has to do with me visiting on a weekend. If I may advise, do get a tour from Sun Cruises on a weekday. It beats the crowd since most people are out working from their offices.
During this time, I was hoping to have the same funny tour guide that we had on my last visit. Unfortunately, they said that all staffs working in Corregidor only have a one year contract. New staffs come in fresh yearly or when someone resigns early.
- THE TOPSIDE AREA -
The topside area is the center of the entire island with the highest terrain of 400 feet or more above sea level. The area includes the iconic Mile Long Barracks, Cine Corregidor, Pacific War Memorial, Parade Ground and the Spanish Lighthouse.
THE GARDEN BUFFET
I just call this the “Garden Buffet” since it’s closer to that feel.
Our first stop is, our buffet lunch! Since it was around afternoon, our first task on the island is to fill our stomachs full. The venue was very lovely and has a romantic feel to it since it’s especially covered with vine plants. As you walk inside, the staffs at the entrance will hand you a free double colored sweet drink. I forgot to take a picture of it, but it looks awesome!
One thing I learned, the buffet lunch that is included on the tour can be located at either two places. It’s either the garden buffet or on the island’s La Playa hotel dining area which serves more food varieties. Both are beautiful venues, but I prefer the ones in the hotel area since they have a lot more choices of food to enjoy. Plus, they have my favorite pasta there, even though it has no taste hahaha. It was pretty tasteless, really, I had to put in so much salt and pepper for it to have taste.
SPANISH LIGHTHOUSE COMPLEX & SPANISH MUSEUM
Just outside the garden buffet is the lighthouse area where you can also buy some souvenirs. You can climb atop the lighthouse, although the steps are steep. And I mean really steep! I got a bit of a problem climbing down the first time I went here. Atop the lighthouse you can really feel the breeze and Bataan Island is visible from here too.
Inside the lighthouse are some historical details and the blueprint of the structures on the island. This mini museum might be interesting for those that love architecture.
THE SPANISH HISTORICAL MARKER
Before you reach the lighthouse, you’ll notice this tablet. It states a brief history of Corregidor in relation to when the Philippines were still under the Spanish rule.
- THE PACIFIC WAR MEMORIAL -
Located on the highest point of the island is a large complex that houses a museum, a memorial dome and the monument of the Eternal Flame of Freedom. This is also the spot where you can view the tail of Corregidor Island. The bus will drop you off near the edge of the complex where you can walk towards the museum where you can catch your bus again.
ETERNAL FLAME OF FREEDOM MONUMENT
The monument represents the undying liberty in remembrance of the sacrifices, the hopes and the battle for our freedom. It rests on a platform overlooking the panoramic coastline of Bataan, Manila and Cavite. The monument was designed by a well-known Philippine sculptor named, Aristedes Dimetrios.
THE PACIFIC WAR MEMORIAL DOME
The memorial dome was erected for the Filipino and American soldiers who gave their lives in the Pacific War. . In addition, it is also a symbol of the heroic struggles of the Filipino and Americans on the second world war with the Japanese. The dome has a round opening with a marble altar underneath. The altar is directly lit by the sun on every week of 6th May. This is the day we commemorate the anniversary of the Fall of Corregidor.
PACIFIC WAR MEMORIAL MUSEUM
Beside the memorial is the museum storing a collection of relics from the war. The exhibit includes katanas, photographs, uniforms worn and a large mosaic of the island and the battles fought here.
FIPILIPNO - AMERICAN FRIENDSHIP PARK
The park symbolizes the close camaraderie of the Americans and the Filipino during the battle and peace in Corregidor. It features a 10 foot statue of both races’ unity in times of war.
Also situated in the war memorial complex is the now ruins of the cinema. Cine Corregidor was built as an entertainment for the American personnel in the garrison and their families. They say the Corregidor Island was like a paradise, the island is truly beautiful, but this was the front line area of defense of the capital.
BACHELOR OFFICERS QUARTER
Across Cine Corregidor are the ruins of the Bachelor Officers Quarter.
TOPSIDE PARADE GROUND
The parade ground is an open area where they test out bombs.
MILE LONG BARRACKS
Adjacent to the Parade Ground is the Mile long Barracks, which is one of the most iconic landmarks of the island. This three-story barracks served as shelter for the American personnel at the garrison. The barracks houses an entertainment area, a huge cafeteria that accommodates all the people in the shelter and rooms for the personnel.
Mile Long Barracks is considered as the world’s longest barracks measured at 1,520 feet long. It is a third of its size, but when you walk from end to end on all three stories it almost covers a mile. According to our tour guide, all or most of the beds here were moved to Malinta Tunnel to accommodate the injured.
“The contradicting story here is, the cement used to erect the barracks is from the Japanese. And they were the ones who bombed the structures to ruins.”
Battery Hearn is the longest gun on the island named after Brigadier General Clint C. Hearn. This massive gun can fire up to a range of 27 kilometers on a 360° angle. Its only drawback is the 35° firing elevation, leaving it with a flat trajectory. There’s actually a bomb crater right beside Battery Hearn from when the Americans dropped a bomb in 1945.
The crew disabled the gun and carriage to prevent the Japanese from using it before they surrender. However, the Japanese were able to repair the gun back into service. When the Japanese captured this gun, they used it as a propaganda material proclaiming their victory and the Fall of Corregidor in their hands.
BATTERY GRUBBS AND BATTERY CROCKETT
Grubbs and Crockett are one of the “disappearing” guns placed on the Corregidor Island. These batteries emerge to fire at enemies, then sinks back down again leaving enemies confused where they are shot. Enemies usually cannot locate where they are coming from as it is well hidden during the attack. And this long range strategy is a huge advantage to shott enemy ships faraway.
This is also the nearest point where I saw Bataan Peninsula.
Named after 2nd Lieutenant Henry Way of the 4th US Artillery, this is one of the artilleries to cease firing before the surrender of Bataan. Battery Way is specially designed to penetrate armor of enemy warships on any directions. For each shot, a crew of 14 men is needed to fire each mortar. Battery Way froze up on year 1942 after a 12 hour continuous firing and it is one of the only two mortar batteries that are serviceable. The other two are damaged beyond repair by the Japanese artillery.
There also some tracks that you can see where they transfer bombs to be used in the batteries.
- THE MIDDLESIDE -
There was not much to see on the Middleside area from our day tour. Our bus just had a very brief stop for the guide to explain the area and the ruins. On my second visit it was also raining hard so we can’t really go out and take some photos.
Similar to the Mile Long Barracks, the Middleside Barracks is composed of two buildings, both three-story high. It also houses personnel from the 60th Coast Artillery Regiment and the 91st Philippine Scout Coast Artillery Regiment.
The barracks is currently undergoing reconstructions after its bombardment during World War II.
- THE BOTTOMSIDE -
The Bottomside is where we entered the island through the dock. This sector is near the shores of Corregidor where the hotel, parks and commemoration statues are erected.
GEN. WAINWRIGHT PLAZA
Encrypted in this tablets/epitaph is the list of the “Fallen Angels” known as the army nurses who have sacrificed their lives in Corregidor.
A tablet for General Jonathan Wainwright is also erected as a hero of Bataan. Wainwright took charge of Corregidor when General McArthur had to escape to Australia. He was a hero for surrendering Corregidor to the Japanese and stopped a possible massacre of the people hiding in Malinta Tunnel. He was held captive for three years and upon release he was so skinny and malnourished due to the mistreatment he received.
GEN. DOUGLAS MACARTHUR PARK
Near the shore is a bronze stature of General MacArthur erected in his honor. His famous line of “I shall return” is inscribed on his statue.
SAN JOSE CHAPEL
We didn’t go inside, but this is a small chapel erected for the military personnel and their families
CORREGIDOR LA PLAYA HOTEL
On my first visit, our lunch venue was at the La Playa restaurant inside Corregidor hotel. If I were to choose where to eat, I prefer the foods they are serving here. They have more variations on food than on the Garden Buffet (again, I just named it this way since I don’t know the actual name of the venue). Their terrace also offers a panoramic view of the coast line. This is where you’ll be staying at for an overnight tour in Corregidor.
The tunnel was named “Malinta” meaning “leech”. At the time of digging the tunnel, they found a lot of leeches hence the name. The construction of Malinta Tunnel was for a bomb-proof headquarters for the Filipino and American troops during World War II.
During the war, the tunnel was the last stronghold for the military as it offers complete protection from artillery and air attacks.
It housed around 4000 men, including those who were injured. A hospital is also built in the tunnel and it was the only area where there is enough ventilation.
If my memory serves me right, our guide said that there were a few inches of blood inside the tunnel during the war. People inside had no choice but to stay there to be safe from the ongoing war outside.
As of today, the tunnel is available for tourists. It hosts a Lights and Sounds audio-visual show that narrates the key war events in Corregidor. We were notified by our guide to expect that the show’s audio is gibberish most of the time. If you’re in for the experience do watch the show. The visuals are really outdated, but I did learn and understand a few things. The show requires an additional Php200 fee, and it is also optional.
- THE TAIL END -
The remaining area on Corregidor’s twisting tail. It mostly features memorial parks for the veterans, the brave men and women who fought during the battle in Corregidor.
FILIPINO HEROES MEMORIAL
These memorials honor the valor of the Filipino heroes who fought for the country’s independence. It features 14 creative murals depicting the different eras of struggle in the Philippine History. It was designed by Francisco Manosa and the murals and statue were sculpted by Manuel Casal.
Just beside the Filipino Heroes Memorial is a park dedicated to the late President Osmeña, President Quezon and a statue for the Filipino women who have gallantly fought during the war.
JAPANESE GARDEN OF PEACE
The garden is a memorial and a praying area for the families of the Japanese soldiers who died in Corregidor. A 10-ft tall stone statue of Buddha is erected with a pond and a Shinto shrine.
BOOKING A TOUR WITH SUN CRUISES
Their prices are high, but if time serves you right, you can buy a discounted tour from them. On my first visit they have a mini booth in SM Megamall where it’s half the price with inclusions of an island day tour PLUS a short night cruise on a ship with a set lunch. You can view the sunset from the ship and I think the round trip is about 2 hours.
Take note that Sun Cruises also has different sets of tour you can choose. There’s an overnight tour, a hiking tour or a walking tour. Each set is almost the same but all are worth it even if I hadn’t experience it myself.
You can check out their website here at SunCruises
BEFORE THE TRIP
I usually don’t write a “Before the Trip” section except for some hiking or DIY posts but this is one exception.
WHAT TO BRING:
- Hat, Caps or any headwear: If you’re booked at an early tour, prepare a headwear since the sun and heat can be really harsh
- Sunglasses: same reason as the above
- Water: you’ll need to walk if you have chosen to drop by some areas. Like on the Pacific War Memorial, you can choose to be dropped off and the bus will pick you up on the other end.
- Camera: there are so much lovely things to see and capture. If you have a DSLR, the better.
- Umbrella: No need for this one since they will lend you one on the bus.
- Fan: It really gets hot! Especially in the summer
One thing I regret here is that I accidentally lost all my pictures from my first visit. Then on my second visit, it was almost perfect if only it did not rain. I think there’s something going on that makes my visit in Corregidor a not so perfect one. What I only want is to capture some shots again as materials for this post. *sobs*
Moving on with my ranting, I strongly advise you to visit Corregidor Island. I’m pretty sure the third time I’ll visit here will either be me getting a hiking activity, an overnight or a biking tour. An overnight visit in Malinta Tunnel is also possible, they have a night tour plus they will show an additional area to guide you. It’s a different approach from the day tour. Talk about a spooky trip inside a tunnel. I’m pretty sure you won’t see any ghosts or any lost souls there unless you have the “eyes”. BOO!
I will be concluding my rate of the place and the service as very positive. The guide thoroughly explains the structures and the history of the place. You can even ask some questions if you want more in depth explanation from your guide. You can really feel the tour guide’s passion while they explain each site, I appreciate all the extra information they give out too. Plan your Corregidor tour now, you won’t regret it!
RUINS AND HISTORICAL WAR SITE
Are you a fan of historical sites? If you are, Corregidor is just near Manila. It’s perfect for a day tour when you don’t want a faraway location for your tour. As a history lover, I really love this place. I was even willing to visit a third time here!
- My photos looks so gloomy thanks to the weather. It was even raining so hard.
- Maybe this is the reason why I got a promo voucher? Because it will rain. *sob*
- The last photo was taken from what I have left on my first ever visit. The sky was really clear and blue that it felt nothing like in Manila, due to the island being kilometers away from Manila.