I must admit, I’ve been putting off visiting Corregidor for years now. I’ve been to places far-off Manila yet I haven’t been able to set foot on this island which is basically an hour away by ferry. Maybe I wasn’t too convinced seeing island ruins bombarded during the Second World War or even the somewhat high price tag for a destination so near. But my perception changed when I finally got to visit the island. I think the place wasn’t marketed enough as Corregidor Island was more intriguing than I thought it would be.
To the Rock
Squirming off like a tadpole from Manila Bay towards the mainland of Bataan, Sun Cruises from their Ferry Terminal near Harbor Square in Pasay is the easiest way to Corregidor. They usually leave at 8am in the morning boarding an airconditioned ferry which only takes an hour. The other route is via a large outrigger boats coming from Camaya coast Bataan, but of course you have to ride all the way there from Manila which is already 3 hours sans the boat ride.
The Day Tours
Upon stepping on the island, visitors are immediately whisked away to their Tranvia, a cable car type of transportation used prior to Japanese occupation. When I first came here, I joined a group doing their new Adventure Challenge, which is an amazing-race type of game where teams compete to search for clues and solve puzzles around the ruins. While the participants where running around, I was admiring the ruins.
As soon as our tranvia turned on a curve at the topside part of the island, my eyes were immediately transfixed when I saw the towering Mile Long Barracks. It looks splendid on how the ruins stand and how its length seems to disappear on the horizon. It’s the longest barracks in the world and I could just imagine the grandeur it once was. There was a time during the American rule that soldiers wanted to be assigned to the Philippines because of Corregidor. Imagine and island fortress that has almost everything, from the big heavy guns scattered on different batteries, huge living barracks, beaches and even a movie house. Soldiers living here would feel like staying on a high end resort.
Of course the Second World War changed all that and it became the most bombarded island in the country. It became a setting for stories of survival, valor and courage. Like all great kingdoms, Corregidor now is a remembrance of its glory days. Honestly, exploring the islands, looking at the ruins, doing short hikes to find the other batteries being engulfed by the forest reminds me of visiting historical ruins from other countries like the Champa Ruins of Vietnam or even Angkor Wat in Cambodia but in a smaller scale. It may not be thousands of years old or built to praise the Gods, but the ruins of Corregidor also have stories to tell in its own macabre way.
The Island by Night
While Corregidor has day tours which are very educational and entertaining, it was too short and visitors would just hie-off from one sight to another. It’s staying overnight when I really appreciated the island. It’s when long shadows stretch on the ruins and ghostly stories from the dark laterals of Malinta Tunnel speaks. Corregidor puts on a cloak of mystery as the sun sets.
Still close to nature
The beaches around the island are already polluted, not by the island’s fault but because of Manila and Bataan’s trash being drifted here. The flora and fauna is still rich. Stay still somewhere and you could see several species of birds flying around. We saw more than three eagles on the island. On the road keep alert for some monkeys and be careful hiking as there are still snakes on the dense part of the island.
The Photographic Possibilities
When I was exploring Corregidor for the first time, I already saw the numerous photographic possibilities it offered. Unfortunately a day tour was not sufficient since the mid-day sun would just give harsh lighting. With the help from Sun Cruises, Backpack Photography was able to design a different king of Photo Tour. Come join us on July 2-3, 2011 as we show you Corregidor in a whole new light. Check backpackphotography.net for details.
Ferdz Decena is an award-winning travel photographer, writer and blogger. His works has found print in publications such as Singapore Airlines’s Silver Kris, Philippine Airlines’ Mabuhay, Cebu Pacific’s Smile and Seair InFlight. He has also lent his expertise to various organizations like the Oceana Philippines, Lopez Group Foundation, Save the Children and World Vision, contributing quality images for their marketing materials.