La Conquista de Corregidor: The Guns and Christmas 1941
All right, all right…you may be wondering why the introduction for this article was with Felipe De Leon’s Christmas Carol “Payapang Daigdig?” Nope, its not that I’m forcing it to fit on Christmas (or this article was meant to be posted on Christmas eve). The song was made out of bombardment of Manila in 1945, when the maestro woke up one morning with such devastation that engulfed the whole city–world’s second most destroyed. We also have to remember that it was during Christmas of 1941 that the Philippines was invaded by the Japanese imperial troops and bombed Pearl Harbor in Hawaii. These stories of melancholic Christmas intertwined with Corregidor’s embattled past. As we head on for our tour, one December morning, I can feel the sirens and the cool breeze…however with more tension.
Our first stop was the Middleside area of Corregidor. Its a plateau between Topside and the coastline. It is here were you can find the second longest military barracks in the world at that time, the MiddleSide Barracks, which houses several Filipino and American troops at that time. Near it was a reservoir disguised as a tennis court. A few meters away from it, is the ruined building of the YMCA. The area is a camping ground for most excursionists and scouts.
We moved on towards the “Big Guns.” Yes, the Yankees have “big guns” able to protect Manila from invading ships from South China Sea. That’s how strategic Corregidor is. Ever since the Spanish colonial era, the island has served as a sentinel for impending naval invasion coming from the open sea such as the Moro, Dutch and even English invasions. The ones we’ve visited are the most important. One at Battery Way which, even though in the middle of a forest, can blast passing ships at the north channel of Corregidor. Another one was that long range cannon that was used in Japanese propaganda. The last one was …The island is littered with big guns everywhere! Oh the Yankees!
The best part of it…these guns weren’t usable at all! The Japanese invaded through air and land! Given that the United States signed, along with other nations, promising not to install more artillery–well, the Japanese withdrew even before they signed the treaty. Wais di ba?
At this early, you can feel the persistence of memory through the war-torn and damaged buildings that hide the ghosts…phantoms of the horror of the atrocities of war. According to Ate Weng, it was intentional that they left Corregidor’s buildings in ruins as a memorial and a reminder to the future generations of the atrocities of war. Indeed, Corregidor Island itself became a shrine for international peace–a symbol of valor.
The last thing before we go to Corregidor’s crowning glory, was we went to Battery Grubbs. This is where you’ll find that giant hiding cannon. The area is fortified yet scars of bullets and mortar are still visible. The ammunitions area now smells like guano…dark, however we felt as if someone is watching us. And to the top, a clear view of the entrance of Manila Bay, Mariveles town in Bataan and that puny island called Monha.
Then off to the crown of gold and thorns of Corregidor — The Topside! Well, the runners are on their way now!