9 Highlights to Look Forward to in a Corregidor Island Day Tour

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Not so long ago, and for a substantial part of my life, I had difficulty waking up early. Gasp. Shocking, I know. Why in the world would I mention that? Well, it's because my first attempt at visiting the island of Corregidor falls under what many would call "an epic fail". Long story short: my sister and I had missed the ferry because, you guessed it, I woke up late. It didn't help that my sister was far better at sleeping in. (She sleeps most of the day, kinda like a sloth. Labyu, Ate.) We'd managed to salvage this unfortunate event, going museum-hopping instead. But still.

Our second attempt was much more successful. Though, I must admit, it also had an element of epic failure. See, I was properly excited. I woke up so early, had more than enough time for breakfast and to clean up that I decided to ride my bike to my Ate's. One tiny problem: I left our tickets. Gasp. What a loser, I know. Good thing there was plenty of time to return and get the tickets. Also, I had enough exercise for the day that I ditched my bike and returned to my Ate's house on a motorcycle.

In any case, as the saying goes, "Better late than never."

9 Highlights to Look Forward to in a Corregidor Day Tour

Corregidor Island or Fort Mills, or simply Corregidor, is an island that can be found in the southwestern entrance of Manila Bay. Together with the islands of El Fraile (Fort Drum), Caballo (For Hughes) and Carabao (Fort Frank), it formed the harbor defenses of Manila's coast. During World War II, Corregidor played an important role in the liberation of the Philippines from Japanese forces. Now, it has been transformed into one of the most visited destinations for local and foreign tourists.
Tours are conducted on trams patterned after pre-World War II trams that were used in Corregidor
Here are 9 features of the island tour that will leave you grabbing for your cameras.

Malinta tunnel served as the last stronghold of the Philippine-American military during World War II. It was used as a storage and bunker and later as a 1,000-bed hospital. Now, it is home to a lights-and-sounds show by National Artist Lamberto V. Avellana which narrates the events that took place on the island.

The West Entrance of the Malinta Tunnel
The Tunnel lit for the audio-visual show

Malinta Tunnel is so named because of Malinta Hill, through which it is bored. Malinta is Filipino for "full of leeches"; linta being the local word for "leech".

The lateral tunnels were used as alcoves for scenes in the Lights-and-sounds show
This scene depicted the hospital inside Malinta Tunnel
One of the lateral tunnels that had collapsed

This spot used to be the location of a Japanese graveyard. The "Japanese cliff" where Japanese soldiers took their own lives borders the garden. A 10-foot Buddha, a Shinto shire, praying areas, and Japanese soldiers shrines and markers are some of its other features. Also on display within the garden are war relics such as anti-aircraft guns. There is also a small pavilion which houses several Japanese memorabilia and World War II photographs.
The Jibo Kannon Stone Buddha
One of the anti-aircraft guns displayed within the garden
A Japanese Marker
Named after Lt. Henry N. Way of the 4th US Artillery, Battery Way is armed with four 12-inch M1890 mortar carriages which were capable of lobbing a 1,000 lbs deck-piercing shell. These mortars are capable of doing a 360-degree traverse and could fire on land targets at Bataan. The mortars were destroyed by enemy shelling in May 1942.
The four 12-inch mortars of Battery Way
These mortars were destroyed on May 1942
The Magazine Storage of Battery Way is now home to several families of Balinsasayaw, whose saliva (gathered from their nests) is the primary ingredient in the expensive Bird's Nest Soup.
A Balinsasayaw on its nest inside the Battery Way Magazine Storage
Battery Hearn is Corregidor's biggest gun. It is made up of four 12-inch mortars mounted on a 360-rotating platform. It is the last major caliber sea coast artillery in Corregidor before the Disarmament Treaty between the US, Japan, Great Britain, and France was signed in 1922. In early January 1945, a large bomb exploded beside the gun putting it permanently out of action. 
Lovers in Battery Hearn
Battery Hearn is particularly popular with Japanese tourists because of the famous Banzai victory photograph of their troops.
A displaced barrel
A mortar shell
The mile-long barracks is actually only 1/3 of a mile in length. The three floors of the hurricane-proof building justifies its name, i.e. 1/3 x 3 = 1. The barracks became known as the world's longest military barracks. Gen. Douglas MacArthur's headquarters was also located in this building.
What was once the World's Longest Military Barracks
Roman Colosseum vibe
The Pacific War Memorial was built to honor the Filipino and American servicemen who participated in the Pacific War. The Memorial features a museum and a rotunda with a circular altar directly under an oculus.
Inside the Pacific War Memorial Museum
Canteens on display inside the Pacific War Museum
Weapons are also on display inside the museum
A collection of guns used during the war
Built by the United States Government at the cost of three million dollars

The "Dome"
The altar inside the Dome is my favorite part of the entire tour. I especially liked what our tour guide said about the altar: We are not commemorating surrender. We are commemorating courage and sacrifice.

The oculus through which light falls on the circular altar during daytime
Sleep my sons. Your Duty DOne. For Freedom's Light has Come
The circular altar

The song by The Bangles instantly pops into mind, doesn't it? Well, the Eternal Flame of Freedom is a sculpture that can be found behind the Pacific War Memorial. It is a 40-feet Corten steel structure that symbolizes freedom commissioned to Aristides Demetrios. Its inscription reads "To Live in Freedom's Light is the Right of Mankind".

To the left of the entrance of the Pacific War Memorial is the ruins of Cine Corregidor. It is a movie house that used to cater to the entertainments of the garrison personnel and their families. The last film to be shown in this theater was Gone with the Wind.
Cine Corregidor as viewed from the tour tram

9. Corregidor Lighthouse
The Lighthouse, located on the Topside part of the island, is the highest point where visitors can climb up the stairs to have a breathtaking view of the whole of Corregidor, Manila Bay, the South China Sea, and the neighboring provinces of Bataan and Cavite. Beside the lighthouse is a row of gift shops where visitors can buy souvenirs. At present, the lighthouse is operational and runs on solar power.
The lighthouse was originally constructed through a Spanish Royal Decree
The front view from the Lighthouse
Group picture with fellow Corregidor tourists

These are some of the things that make Corregidor island a must-visit. To have your own Corregidor adventure, visit Sun Cruises Philippines' website. An overnight stay is possible at the Corregidor Hotel. Our Day Tour was a weekday rate that cost P2,350/pax.

Did I miss anything? Comment below and share your favorite part of your own Corregidor tour.

Cheers to the next adventure!

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