Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Visit Corregidor Island

Corregidor is a tadpole shaped island on the mouth of Manila Bay. When the Philippines was yet a colony of Spain, Corregidor served as a fortress; an early warning outpost to warn Manila of any hostile ships; a customs outpost; and a correctional (prison). Because of the corrective effect of hard labor on prisoners, the island was named Corregidor, from the Spanish word "corregir" meaning the corrector. Corregidor is also known as "the rock" because of its rocky landscape and heavy fortifications.

Corregidor Island is approximately 4 kilometers long, 1.5 kilometers at its widest and a total area of approximately 3 square miles. At the tip of the tail, 2 kilometers south, lies Caballo Island. Both Corregidor and Caballo islands are part of the province of Cavite.

Corregidor History

In 1898, after almost 400 years of colonization, the Philippines was ceded by Spain to the United States after payment of US$20 million. Soon after, the Americans used Corregidor as an army post and named it, Fort Mills in honor of Brig. Gen. Samuel M. Mills. The Americans built bomb-shelters, concrete emplacements, a hospital and trails around the island. In 1922, construction of the Malinta Tunnel started to protect military installations and wares in case of war. In addition, 56 Coastal guns, 13 anti-aircraft artillery batteries and 10 searchlights was installed.

In 1941, hours after Japan bombed Pearl Harbor, the Japanese invaded the Philippines. Corregidor served as the last resistance point of the retreating Filipino and American forces fighting the Japanese. Gen. Douglas MacArthur used Corregidor Island as a base for the Allied forces from 1941 to 1942. Corregidor also served as the temporary shelter for the government of President Manuel L. Quezon and his family for two months (December 24, 1941 to February 19, 1942) prior to the eventual exile of the Philippine Commonwealth government to the United States. After the fall of Bataan to on April 9, 1942 to the Japanese, Corregidor surrendered after holding out for 27 days.

Corregidor Today

Today, Corregidor is a historical site and a tourist destination. The island is divided into sections; the "head" is called the "Topside". This is the main part of Corregidor where the headquarters, barracks, war memorial, lighthouse, Eternal Flame, parade grounds, golf course and all the major emplacements are located here. Then there is the "Middleside", where the campsite, aviary, Bird Park and some ruins are located. And the tail end of Corregidor Island is called the "Bottomside". The hotel, administrative building, Gen. MacArthur Park, Gen. Wainwright Park and San Jose Chapel can be found here.

Many of the war ruined buildings have never been reconstructed, and instead was left as is, so as to serve as a memorial to the Filipino & American soldiers who died here in World War II. Corregidor today is not only a place to contemplate and learn history, it is also a place to relax and enjoy. There are many things to see and do. A highlight of a visit to Corregidor is the audio-visual presentation at the Malinta Tunnel of the events that occurred during World War II, including the departure of President Quezon and Gen. Douglas MacArthur on a submarine from Corregidor to Australia - Quezon and his family exiled to the United States during the war.

One can also avail of the island tour of Corregidor on a motorized boat or do some hiking on through the hills and forest and discover some landmark ruins along the way. For those who will stay overnight at Corregidor, take the night tour with a walk around of the Malinta Tunnel, it is different and more stimulating.

Places of Interest in Corregidor:

Malinta Tunnel

Pacific War Memorial

Filipino Heroes Memorial

Spanish lighthouse

Gun emplacements

Eternal Flame of Freedom

Aviary and Theme Park

Filipino-American Friendship Park

Barracks ruins

Where to stay in Corregidor:

Corregidor Hotel is a comfortable place to stay for visitors and tourist who would like to relax after a long day visiting the sites. The hotel has a pool, souvenir shop, bar and restaurant. For those who still have energy to spend, the hotel has tennis and basketball courts. Corregidor Hotel is walking distance to the North Dock, wharf and beach.

How to go to Corregidor:

An air-conditioned ferry departs daily at 8:00AM from the ferry terminal at the CCP Complex, Roxas Boulevard, Manila and returns in the afternoon. Day tour includes the ferry transfers, fees, lunch and guided tour of Corregidor (entrance fee of P150 to the Malinta Tunnel is excluded). Package day tour is priced P1,999/per person (as of March 2011).

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