April 19, 2019

Corregidor Travel Diary: The Rock Beach Club at the South Dock, Spanish Lighthouse, Gen. Douglas MacArthur Statue, Gen Jonathan Wainwright Memorial

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.

Like I said above, there are so many things to do in the island of Corregidor besides visiting the historical sites, ruins and military artilleries. Other notable areas to visit and to do are the following: 

The Rock Beach Club at the South Dock
There are several beaches in the island and 3 piers/docks. The North Dock is the business-related side while the South Dock is for leisure. Guests of the island can visit and relax at the Rock Beach Club or the Navy Beach (what it was called before) which is found on the South Dock. This was also the location of Barrio San Jose, the only Filipino community in the island in the early days. During the war, this is also where the soldiers taken as POWs were gathered. 

The sand at the beach is not as white like the sand of the famous beaches in other parts of the Philippines but it’s clean. There were areas were the sand was fine and there were also areas where it is pebbly and rocky. Guests can do kayaking and swimming as the water is clean and relatively good for swimming. Most of all, the place is very Instagram-worthy especially the dock area. We even went under the dock since it was low tide and took tons of photos. Personally and for some reason, I found that area quite rustic and somehow enchanting. 

Spanish Lighthouse
Another one of the main tourist spot and oldest landmark in the island is the lighthouse that was built by the Spaniards in 1897. The lighthouse was completely damaged during World War II but was reconstructed in the 1950s but stood where the original one was located. Now the lighthouse area houses a restaurant where day tour joiners get their buffet lunch, several souvenir shops and cell tower. 

You can also find a mini museum at the bottom of the lighthouse; unfortunately, the stairs to the top was being fixed so we didn’t get to climb up. The whole lantern of the lighthouse was recently replaced by the Philippine Coast Guard to run on solar power.

Gen Douglas MacArthur Statue and Gen Jonathan Wainwright Memorial
Corregidor was once the base of General Douglas MacArthur and this is where he stayed before passing through the tunnels, transported to different places in the Philippines before reaching Australia where he said his famous words: “I shall return.” Lt. Gen. Jonathan Wainwright probably is the most notable person associated with Corregidor. He was the commander of the North Luzon Force and when Gen MacArthur left for Australia took over the entire command of the Philippine Island. He first negotiated with Japanese General Masaharu Homma with conditional terms but the latter declined. Later on Gen Wainwright gave in to avoid unnecessary bloodshed and loss of lives. The “fighting” general became a POW and was transferred from places to places. He survived the war and was later on awarded the US Medal of Honour and Distinguished Service Cross.

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 a series of blog posts and 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 my blog.

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/)

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