Whilst staying in Manila, we took a day trip to Corregidor Island. The large daily ferry, operated by “Sun Cruises”:http://www.corregidorphilippines.com/index.html, leaves at 7.30am with the journey taking 1.5 hours. Fortunately, the crossing was smooth: as choppy waters the previous week resulted in an overnight stay at the island’s only hotel we were advised to take essential medicine.
To keep us entertained on the journey, a TV showed a music DVD, a prayer and documentary of the history of the American/Filipino-Japanese war.
On arrival, we were allocated to a converted trolley bus which were used on the island during WW2. We formed a multicultural group with people from the Philippines, India, China, Italy, Australia and New Zealand. The day was well organised with buses heading off in different directions, so it never felt very crowded. We had numerous stops of around 10 to 15 minutes with a bell being rung when time was up.
Our first stop was Lorcha Dock where General Macarthur departed for Australia in 1942 shortly before the Japanese invasion of the Philippines: having been told to surrender, here he issued the immortal words, “I shall return”.
A Japanese cemetery was only been discovered in 1985 when a US GI found a photo in a garage sale and worked out from the background where the overgrown cemetery was. The bones were repatriated to Japan and the area turned into a garden of remembrance.
At another stop were various statues: a woman representing what were known as angels, American and Filipino nurses; a soldier’s tin hat on a rifle; and a man who worked on the land by day and as a soldier by night. There was also a depiction of all the Filipino wars in bronze reliefs around a circular garden.
We stopped at 3 battery stations named after various military men (Way, Crocket). Crockett, had a disappearing gun which rose above a wall for firing, but then descended with the aid of a large pulley whilst another had a gun which could fire 18 miles.
There was an optional extra: a sound and light show “The Malinta Experience” held in the Malinta Tunnel. We formed a line in the dark and were told when to move to the next display which was either a film show or a tableau – both of which had explanations, newsreels and commentaries.
The former barracks, including one a mile long, were in various states of disrepair. We were told that although the American and Filipino soldiers were equal they lived separately due to their different cultures.
Lunch again was staggered so there was no queuing at the buffet where we enjoyed a welcome drink and hot three course lunch sat at tables underneath a pleasant vine covered open area. To work off lunch, we climbed the lighthouse, 30 steps and then two ladders of around 10 steps which you had to hoist yourself up.
The small museum displayed photographs and artefacts whilst outside stood a bronze statue of an American and Filipino solder arm in arm next to the circular white domed Pacific War Memorial. On May 6 at noon, the sunlight falls on the centre of the Memorial’s altar: the time when Corregidor and the Philippines fell into Japanese hands. In the distance was a statue designed to look like the eternal flame.
As this trip was at the beginning of our holiday, it was an excellent introduction to Filipino history and I’d highly recommend it. Unfortunately, on the return journey the same DVD was played and I, like many others, snoozed.