La Farola de la Centinela: Corregidor Lighthouse
Corregidor Island is more associated with World War 2 and the American Colonial Era, due to the development of the island as a fortress, military area, and the place where one of the bloodiest battles in the Pacific Theatre of World War 2 happened. However, at the highest part of Corregidor, a beacon of light guides the mariners, as well as to signal impending attacks. The Corregidor Lighthouse or Faro de Corregidor is the only Spanish edifice in the entire island.
Just a few meters from the Topside area, Corregidor Lighthouse or Faro de Corregidor serves as the primary beacon for navigators entering and leaving Manila Bay. Perched on top of the hill more than 600 meters above the sea, it gives a complete 360 degree view of Manila Bay, Bataan, Cavite, and on a clear day—Metro Manila itself. The tall, whitewashed lighthouse sits on a red-orange plaza of souvenir shops and an office.
We were greeted with a post, depicting how far LA, Hong Kong, Sydney and the rest of major cities in the world are from this point. And just to set the mood, surveying OB-10 aircraft by the Philippine Air Force flew by—wow, seems like World War 2 tora-tora!
We had a chance to climb Corregidor Lighthouse which stands almost 15 meters in height. Whitewashed walls and a big glass cross window dominate the structure. Below it is the Spanish mini museum, giving a glimpse of the infrastructure projects that the Spanish implemented during its last century of rule in the islands.
Corregidor Lighthouse was first built sometime in 1830s, during the time when the Spanish colonists poured in massive investment in its infrastructure in the Philippines to upgrade its antiquated navigational aids. The second and taller lighthouse was built in the late 19th century to better serve the mariners entering and leaving the harbor. However, when World War 2 came, the lighthouse was heavily bombarded. Although it is still standing, the authorities need to construct a new and better lighthouse—and in 1950, the beacon was reconstructed using the original material.
Despite a bit of revision in its design from its original counterpart, the lighthouse became the only historical yet functional building in the entire island, while the rest of Corregidor’s became a shrine. In the late 20th Century, the Spanish government, together with the Japanese government, renovated Corregidor Lighthouse to what it is now.
The lighthouse still guides the ships passing by the treacherous Boca de la Bahia de Manila (or the mouth of Manila Bay). It has stood the test of time, the elements and even war. She stands guard yet she silently watched Philippine history as it unfolds. And for generations to come, this beacon will still shine to guide the Filipinos on their path towards their future, by looking back into its history.
Oops, gotta rush. The tramvia bell is ringing. It’s time to go but the story hasn’t ended yet. For it was near 60 years ago when Corregidor witnessed its darkest day during the war—the day it surrendered to the enemy forces: 06 May 1942.