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.
Last Christmas, I had an opportunity of visiting one of the bastions of Philippine history, Corregidor Island. As with my previous posts, from the beginning and towards the middle side area, this island has a lot of stories to tell, about valor of our forefathers who fought endlessly to defend our freedom from the invaders. Yet the highlight of that tour last December hasn’t been reached yet. As we reached high above the Manila Bay, the view of the nerve center of then-one of Asia’s best military camps, this island has still a lot to tell…from its head and all towards under its belly.
This is my tribute to the men and women who sacrificed their lives for the greater glory of freedom and for peace to prevail once more in this part of the globe. Today is April 9, Araw ng Kagitingan in the Philippines.
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.
It was one of those unplanned trips again that ended up great—and as a history student, a place something to look forward to. It was my first time conquering “The Rock of the Orient.” It is the tadpole-shaped sentinel island that guards Manila Bay from invaders—and indeed it held steadfast in Philippine history. The English name, “Corrector’s Island.” En español, “La Isla de Corregidor.”
Thanks to Ivan Henares and Sun Cruises, I, together with bloggers Joel, Cedrick, James, Estan, Claire, Rob, Patricia, Ivan Mandy, and Sir Bobby Aquino of Magsaysay Shipping, we embarked on a 1 hour and 15 minute fast cruise towards the mouth of Manila Bay as the sun is just reaching its rays over the skyline of Manila.