Exactly 72 years ago, a white flag was waving at the entrance to Malinta tunnel. That was the day “The Rock” was surrendered to the Japanese Imperial Army, a historic event that we commemorate now as the Fall of Corregidor. The waving of the white flag was the start of their fall, but through the hearts, minds and souls of our forgotten heroes, they accomplished all that was humanly possible.
Tranvia at the Corregidor Jetty Port
Last May 5, 2014, We were invited by Sun Cruises to join in the commemoration of the 72nd anniversary of the Fall of Corregidor. The soldiers fighting for sovereignty are long gone, but I can still feel the pain experienced by thousands of forgotten heroes as we toured the island. More than just commemorating the Fall, the event aims to pay tribute to our soldiers’ acts of bravery and their unconditional and ultimate sacrifice in the fight for sovereignty.
The Fall of Corregidor
Surrender of U.S. forces at the Malinta Tunnel May 6, 1942 (photo courtesy of www.ffemagazine.com)
The Corregidor Flag
It was on May 5 of 1942 that Imperial Japanese Army troops under the command of Lieutenant General Masaharu Homma began bombarding the island, causing heavy damage to most of the facilities on Corregidor. The 11,000 defenders of Corregidor held out against intense Japanese bombardment for two consecutive days until the island of Corregidor was officially surrendered to the Japanese troops the next day, May 6, 1942. After leaving so much damage, Corregidor was one of the most bombarded islands in the world, second only to Malta after the massive attack.
The Recapture of Corregidor
Allies recaptured Corregidor in February 1945 (photo courtesy of http://cbholganzablog.wordpress.com)
Bachelors Officers Quarters
Three years later in February of 1945, the US and Filipino Army recaptured Corregidor Island. 2000 paratroopers landed on a hill known as ‘Topside’, the island’s foremost dominant terrain feature. Nearly all the Japanese defenders were killed: 4,500 were killed in action during the battle, an estimated 500 Japanese soldiers were buried alive in caves, and about 200 were killed trying to swim away. During the battle to liberate Corregidor, only 20 Japanese Soldiers were captured alive.
About Corregidor Island
The Fall of Corregidor (photo courtesy of www.corregidor.org)
More than just a piece of history, the island of Corregidor is now a primary tourist destination in the Archipelago. Although the island is just 3 miles from Bataan, Corregidor falls under the jurisdiction of the Province of Cavite. As an important historical landmark, most of the decrepit artillery pieces and significant battle sites on the island are being continuously restored.
Filipino & American Soldiers Monument
The island fortress is a 628 foot granite hill honeycombed with tunnels. Located under Malinta Hill, Malinta Tunnel measures 1,400 feet long and is large enough to drive a bus through. After WWII, Malinta Tunnel became not only General Douglas MacArthur’s headquarters, but also the headquarters of the Philippine government, a hospital and the Philippine treasury.
Lunch at Corregidor Inn
Here are some of the historical sites we visited on Corregidor Island:
Middle Side Barracks
Built in 1915 and completely destroyed by Japanese bombs on December 29, 1941, these barracks were used as quarters of the 60th Coast Artillery anti-aircraft regiment, United States Regular Army and the 91st Coast Artillery Philippine Scouts. The Middle Side barracks consists of two three-story buildings which infused the sensibility of tropical design through the use of high ceilings, wide capiz shells sliding windows and perimeter galleries to allow for good ventilation and protect the rooms from the direct heat of the sun.
The Battery Way
Upon arriving in the island, we hopped on a tranvia-designed bus and headed to our first stop: Battery Way. Tranvia are a set of cable cars used in Corregidor during the early American period up to the time prior to the Japanese occupation. One of the main tourist attractions on Corregidor Island, Battery Way features a battery of four mortars. Prior to the Fall of Corregidor, the four mortars were capable of firing in any direction.
Although it only measures 1/3 of a mile, the Mile-Long Barracks was said to be the longest barracks in the world. It used to be the islands entertainment Barracks complete with store fronts, such as barber shops and coffee shops. Heavily damaged during the capture and liberation of the island, the ruins are still standing today.
Located near the Mile-Long Barracks, this structure used to be one of the recreational facilities of Corregidor. The last movie shown here was “Gone With the Wind”, which starred Clark Gable and Vivien Leigh Moore. Today, most of the walls and windows are now supported by steel braces, but other portions like the stairways leading up to the upper balcony and concrete floor are still there.
Pacific War Memorial Museum
Inside the Pacific Memorial War Museum
Located right at the back of Cine Corregidor is the Pacific War Memorial Museum. This museum was erected in commemoration of the Filipino and American servicemen who were involved in the World War II in the Philippines. The memorial was completed in 1968 with financial contribution from the United States Congress. It reportedly cost 1.23 million dollars to construct.
The 72nd Commemoration of the Fall of Corregidor
72nd Commemoration of the Fall of Corregidor
It was exactly noon when we arrived at the Pacific War Memorial, the site of The Fall of Corregidor commemoration rites. After singing the national anthem of the Philippines and United States, the head of a nun congregation together with Mr. Bernard Supertran, the head of Media Delegates, offered some flowers in memory of the Filipinos and the Americans who fought in WWII. The simple yet historic commemoration was followed by a lunch hosted by Sun Cruises.
Corregidor Hospital Tour
Corregidor Hospital Ruins
After having lunch at Corregidor Inn, we proceeded to the ruins of Corregidor Hospital. Despite its cross shaped architecture and red cross sign, it was still bombed by the Japanese army on the 29th of December, 1941. In the late 60’s, the hospital was used by our Muslim brothers as a training ground for an intended Sabah invasion force, as directed by the Marcos administration. On March 18, 1968, members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) are said to have massacred a number of Moro Muslim recruits who were escaping their covert training to reclaim Sabah. The incident is now known as The Jabidah Massacre or Corregidor Massacre.
Sunset at Battery Grubbs
Sunset in Corregidor
Our interesting tour of the hospital ruins was followed by a sunset viewing at Battery Grubbs. While waiting for sundown, Bryan (our tour guide) explained the mystery of the disappearing gun on the hill now popularly known as Battery Grubbs. Apart from being the perfect place to view the sunset, the area also offers a magnificent panorama of Bataan and the nearby islands. Viewing the lovely sunset at Battery Grubbs is one of the free tours only available for people who opted to stay overnight at the Corregidor Inn.
Malinta Tunnel Night Lateral Walking Tour
After waiting for sundown at Battery Grubbs, we headed to Malinta Tunnel for our nighttime lateral walking tour. Our guide provided us with flashlights and helmets as he literally walked us through the history of the tunnel. It was an interesting tour; we visited almost all parts of the tunnel except those under construction. Some tunnels have small openings, while others are huge but were heavily damaged during the war. Although some of the tunnels are long, there is noticeable air freely flowing inside them. This is due to the excavation of a huge hole towards the nearest source of air.
When the Corregidor hospital was bombed by the Japanese air force, a portion of the tunnel was converted into a 1000 bed capacity hospital, which was then called Fort Mills Lateral Hospital. This tour is not really for people who are claustrophobic or faint hearted, since the tunnel is in total darkness during the duration of the tour.
Unlike 72 years ago, the island was quiet and peaceful. Even though the island is now a leisure destination, the wounds of the past will never be forgotten. Apart from discovering the island’s historical past, you can also enjoy several activities like snorkeling, hiking, fishing, rock climbing, swimming and extreme biking on the island’s wonderful terrain.
For more activities and tour inquries, visit www.corregidorphilippines.com.
Corregidor Island Tour Reservations Office
Fernando Ma. Guerrero corner Paseo Palisoc,
CCP Complex, Roxas Blvd., Pasay City
Tel. (632) 834-6857 to 58, (632) 831-8140 Fax (632) 834-1523
Mobile (63)917 513-2625, (63)922 337-0068