January 24, 2010

History Lessons

Corregidor Island is one of the historical spot at stone's throw from Manila that I haven't visited yet, due to the fact that "it's not going anywhere." That changed this weekend when I finally was able to visit the "Rock."

The island - used to be a Spanish signal outpost and fortress due to its strategic location at the mouth of Manila Bay, and about 26 miles from Manila - played an important role in the second world war. Used by the American forces as a base (together with 3 other islands on the bay), it was the last parcel of land to surrender to the Japanese invaders. It became the headquarters of Gen. Douglas MacArthur and the seat of the government of Philippine president Manuel L. Quezon during the war.

Due to the placement of a network of tunnels, fortifications - 23 batteries in all - and anti-ship guns, it delayed the conquest of the Philippines by Japan. After its fall, it was occupied by Japanese forces for 3 years, and was then recaptured by Allied forces in February 1945.

Today, Corregidor holds testament to the horrors of war with the presence of ruins and and the remnants of the pockmarked walls and guns of the 23 batteries in the island. The Malinta Tunnel- a bomb-proof network of bunkers and tunnels - also stood as a grim memory to what the Allied forces had endured during the war.

A memorial to the fallen - the Pacific War Memorial - was built on the island to honor those who died in WW2.

[pics, from above: the Malinta tunnel, one of the anti-ship guns in the Battery Geary, the outer shell of a building destroyed during the war, the Pacific War Memorial, dedication to the heroes who defended the island from Japanese invasion]

How to get there: Suncruises offers a daytrip to the island, for PhP1990, via a 1.5-hr ferry ride. Package includes transport, entrance fees, and buffet lunch. An overnight stay in the island's only hotel would cost an additional PhP500.

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