April 16, 2019

Corregidor Travel Diary: Malinta Tunnel, Kindley Airfield, Filipino Heroes Memorial & Japanese Memorial Garden

People close to me, knows I love history, especially anything relating about World War II or military stories. I have discovered this fondness for history and the world wars when I was little, I picked and read from our ancestral house’s library, one photo book that depicts World War II. From then on, I got more and more curious about anything about military and warfare; that I read and watched all things relating to it as much as I could. I was very fascinated that it got to a point where I wanted to be a military nurse while I was studying nursing in college. But my height didn’t cut it, so that plan was ditched.




The Philippines is a country that had a major role during that time in our history because of our relations with the United States and also our ardor for democracy. And there are so many places here that are filled with stories that are linked to World War II. Corregidor is one of them. Corregidor is an island that can be found at the entrance of Manila Bay in the Philippines. Due to its very strategic location, it served as a naval defense station since the Spanish Era. It is 48 kilometers away from Manila and is shaped like a tadpole.


It is probably one of the Philippine World War II places that is full to brim when it comes to that time in history. Corregidor is actually part of Cavite Province, contrary to what most of us have known for years (and that’s including me) and is sometimes used jokingly (just like Bataan) as something to refer to someone or someone who surrendered their freedom or have accepted defeat. But Corregidor, just like Bataan, for me, is actually a place of valor and victory more than defeat. It is a place where the strength, skill, endurance and patriotism of the Filipino and American soldiers were displayed in all its glory. They will always be remembered – the Greatest Generation ever. Period.




Of course I am not discounting the Japanese soldiers because in their own rights, they were also brave too. It’s just that our cultures and beliefs are very different from them and that unfortunately they were one of the antagonists of that War. But like what I’ve read in books, as told by those soldiers, they were just doing their job and their circumstances required them to do things that are not acceptable in a civilized world. But you know, let’s not be hypocrites all sides have committed atrocities and it only goes to show that war doesn’t yield any good, at all.




But aside from Corregidor’s dark and sad past, it is also a place that must be visited. It’s a place where you can get a fix of history, adventure, the outdoors, the sea and the beach all at once. Just last weekend, I got to go to Corregidor as part of a Media/Bloggers Familiarization Tour hosted by Sun Cruises and Corregidor Inn. I’ve been wanting to go there for years so when a friend invited me to go, the inner-history lover in me got way so excited!




The Corregidor Educational Tour is a service provided by Sun Cruises. What began as a ferry service to the historic island of Corregidor back in 1988 has now turned into something more significant for Sun Cruises, Inc. They now offer guided tours, all being a wide variety of adventure and fun activities on the island to choose from. All of Sun Cruises’ tours on Corregidor are meticulously planned to include visits to places of interest and scenic drives through areas of natural beauty with historical value. Every detail is planned down to the last point to assure the right amount of balance between scheduled activities and free time.




The ferry usually leaves at 7:00 am from the SM MOA Esplanade Seaside Terminal. There are two decks inside and an open deck at the back of the ferry. Seating is comfortable and there are flat screen TVs in front showing documentaries pertaining to the events at Corregidor during WWII. A small store sells different kinds of snacks and drinks for tourists to enjoy while sailing. I love how comfy our ride was and I didn’t get sea-sick. When we got to the island, we boarded to our assigned trams reminiscent of the ones that were used during the early days.




As for our group since we will be staying on the island overnight we were separated from the other guests who were doing a day tour. We visited many spots around the island and did a couple of other activities. I don’t think one post would be enough to relate this experience so I’m going to divide this into several posts.


Kindley Airfield
Our first stop for this trip was Kindley Airfield and this can be found at the tail end of the island. Kindley Field was constructed in the early 1920s and named in honor of an early hero of the U.S. Army Air Corps. The airfield was operated then by the army, and the navy had a seaplane base. The short runway, cramped and hilly terrain had limited its use, so only small aircrafts can land here. Outside of it is a viewing deck where one can see the tail of the island up to the neighboring islands of Caballo.




Filipino Heroes Memorial
This area is also one of the most recent installations in the island and can also be found at the tail side of the island. This was erected to pay tribute to the Filipinos who gave their lives for the freedom of our country. There are several statues here including former Philippine presidents Manuel Quezon and Sergio Osmena. The two other notable statues are: The Filipina and the Soldier. They say that the success of the war was attributed to the Filipino women, for one they bore the sons that fight against the antagonists and two they provided the care, food and shelter for them as well. The statue of the soldier carries a gun and a plow, because during those times, most of the men who left their families to fight the war were farmer first and then soldier. The place also contains a museum and a mural that depicts all the wars that the Filipinos have been involved in. After I was done taking photos, stopped in one corner and said a little prayer for all the lives that was lost in the island.




Japanese Memorial Garden
The Japanese Memorial Garden in Corregidor is a serene place overlooking the sea and the nearby Caballo Bay and Caballo Island and now serves as a praying ground for Japanese war veterans and their families. This is a tribute to the 6,600 Japanese soldiers who died in Corregidor Island during the World War II. The garden you can find here many Japanese markers and relics of anti-aircraft guns. There’s also a shrine, a 10-foot statue of a Buddhist fertility goddess which faces towards Japan. It’s hard to tie together that this place was a venue for some atrocities that happened during WWII and how tranquil it is today. ⁣




Malinta Tunnel
Probably the most famous landmark in Corregidor Island, Malinta Tunnel, is a tunnel complex built by the US Army and was initially used as a bomb-proof storage and personnel bunker, but was later equipped as a 1,000-bed hospital during WWII. The main tunnel, running east to west, is 831 feet long, 24 feet wide and 18 feet high. Branching off from the main tunnel are 13 lateral tunnels on the north side and 11 lateral tunnels on the south side.






Of present time, the tunnel is the main attraction for the tours and is the venue of an audio-visual presentation by National Artist Lamberto V. Avellana of events that occurred during World War II, including the evacuation of President Quezon and General MacArthur by Motor Torpedo Boat Squadron Three from Corregidor to Mindanao.




I love the entire light show, though I was a little apprehensive at first because of the ghost stories that I’ve heard about this tunnel; but the visit there was very enlightening about the happenings during that time. At the end of the tunnel and of the show there’s a Philippine flag and the Philippine National anthem was played. I couldn’t help but get teary eyed and a bit emotional, thinking of the lives sacrificed in that island, and I couldn’t be thankful enough for what they did for the freedom that I, or us all, are enjoying today.




The whole encounter is something for the books that I will surely treasure for the rest of my life. Something that I can add to my myriad collection of stories about World War II that I have acquired throughout the years. I love that I get to experience history, adventure, food and leisure in just one place. I also get to meet great people who share the same passions like myself for travel, food, learning and adventure.  What a fun weekend that was!

This is only the first part of our visit to Corregidor Island, I’ll be posting the next few in the coming days. As I don’t want to cramp up the entire experience in one whole blog post. I’ll be linking the other blog posts about our Corregidor weekend trip below once I’m done publishing them, so if you’re interested to know more about it, please do come back to this post.



SUN CRUISES
21st Floor Times Plaza Bldg., Ermita,
Manila, Philippines
Contact Nos: (632) 354-7005, (632) 6289751
(632) 6289752, (63)998 968-3256, (63)998 968-3056
Email: reservations@suncruises.com.ph



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** additional photos by: Tina (hungrytravelduo.com), Me-Ann (yogoandcream.com) & Gelo (angelotheexplorer.com/)

10 comments:

  1. Ang ganda talaga ng Corregidor Island! I also went there last month. Super galing ng tour guide/manager and his witty trivia!

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  2. Hi, when I read your post I was reminded of my team building before in Corregidor. Walking inside the Malinta tunnel was a bit scary but it was interesting. My imagination takes me back to yesteryears.

    I guess Corregidor aptly fits your passion for history and warfare :)

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  3. Sobrang mysterious sakin ng Coregidor. Para sayang island within Manila pero provincial.

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  4. I've been to Corregidor Island and it is one of the promising place to visit. Though it truly needs more improvements and cleaning up. I like this place with all the ruins.

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  5. Corregidor is also my dream destination! I've been here before when I was young but i can no longer remember some of the places we've been to.

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  6. Ohhh thanks for sharing. Even though I am just from Cavite, I've never been to Corregidor.

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  7. I remember the tunnel from a movie which I forgot the title. Corregidor is truly rich with historical events and people.

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  8. Just recently ko lang din nalaman na part pala ng Cavite ang Corregidor. Hahaha. Our high school days are over. Lol. I agree super historical places ang Corregidor and Bataan.

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  9. I haven’t been to Corregidor. This is a good travel itinerary reference. Thanks for sharing!

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  10. WE've set a trip to Corregidor, excited to experience Malinta Tunnel. Feels like the Walking Dead!

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