Corregidor, Cavite*

I don’t know where ‘educational field trips” are held nowadays but I sure as hell wish I had mine at Corregidor Island instead of the zoo, Star City and SM North EDSA…

Anyway, Corregidor is one of those places I’ve always wanted to visit but didn’t because tours are monopolized by Sun Cruises and I’m patiently waiting for the tickets to go on sale. Last year they finally did thanks to group buying sites so I immediately notified two friends who I think would appreciate the trip as much as I will. 2,150 pesos inclusive of round trip ferry transfers, overnight twin room accommodation, tour of island via tram, buffet lunch on first day, plated breakfast on 2nd day, and hotel amenities ain’t bad especially when it’s originally priced at 3,000+ pesos. I don’t know how it happened, in the end, eight of us availed of the vouchers.

Then we realized that conflicting schedules are a pain in the ass. Seriously. Last year and the first two weeks of this year have proven to me over and over how hassle and frustrating it is to organize a get-together (especially for a group of more than 4) and two days ago I finally called it quits. One of my resolutions is to just meet with people who actually want to hang out with me enough they’re willing to put in a tiny amount of effort, no hard feelings on my part if they’re too busy :p

I digress. The eight of us were supposed to go one weekend in October but the worst storm to hit the country in 2015 decided to screw us up. Thanks to Typhoon Lando our trip was postponed. After that, it was impossible to reconcile our schedules. With the impending expiration of the non-refundable vouchers in December, we decided to cut our losses. A friend went with his girlfriend so that leaves us with 6 vouchers. I offered them to friends and family and posted an ad on my Facebook page. I was even willing to sell them on credit to be paid in 2016 but no one bought. Hence, Fae, Ejay and I availed of all the amenities of six vouchers. Since I was the one who initiated the trip, I felt responsible so I shouldered a certain amount of the unused vouchers and asked my friends to divide the rest. HAHA so much for waiting for a sale when I clearly paid more than a regular priced ticket for this. Lesson learned. Next time I’m only buying vouchers for myself.

I don’t regret it one bit. Okay, a little (because I spent Christmas of 2015 broke). What’s important is I enjoyed. My tummy was filled, I had a little exercise, my knowledge about this part of history was reviewed, and I spent some quality time with friends.SONY DSCCorregidor is most known as a fortified base of the US Army which played a part during World War II but its name actually came from the Spanish word corregir meaning to correct because it used to be a station for customs inspection during the Spanish rule.SONY DSCTours around Corregidor are usually done via trams. Being a cheapskate, I initially planned on buying the ferry tickets only and wanted to explore on my own. Nope, not a good idea. There are places especially for solitary wanderers and there are places where it’s better to be part of a tour group. Besides, you’re gonna miss the interesting stories. There’s a difference between learning about history in books which can be tedious and learning about it with the actual places as backdrops.

The guides are very knowledgeable. In fact, they offer different versions according to their clientele. For example, if the tourists are Filipino/Americans, they usually focus on Douglas MacArthur, etc. But if the visitors are Japanese, then they tell stories about Japanese generals (who are hailed as heroes in their country) instead because most of them are unaware of the atrocities committed during World War 2 since it was left out of (or at least toned down in) their textbooks. Which makes you think, how manipulated is the history I know?DSC_0615DSC_0617These aren’t from the island. They’re only washed ashore from nearby places, most notably from Bataan Peninsula and Manila Bay. Please always remember that trash has a way of always coming back to us.SONY DSC20151125_095116The Malinta Tunnel light show has a separate fee of 200 pesos. I guess I was just expecting much from it. Or maybe there were too many of us in the group and some are insensitively loud so I wasn’t able to hear the crappy voice over.SONY DSCBuffet lunch with a view.SONY DSCAccording to our guide and seconded by Engr. Fae, these buildings are “pure buhos” of cement, no hollow blocks were used which makes it more sturdy (not to mention expensive). As you can see, it’s still standing despite being bombed heavily.DSC_0657SONY DSCSONY DSCView from the lighthouse.SONY DSCCorregidor’s longest gun, Battery Hearn, the same one used by the Japanese in this propaganda after they occupied Corregidor.SONY DSCSONY DSCSONY DSCThis is the reason why I’m not voting for particular presidential and vice-presidential candidates. In Salvador Lopez’ words,

It is far easier to lose freedom without bloodshed than to regain freedom without bloodshed. One should never assume that a people willing to sacrifice freedom and democracy for the sake of necessary reforms are prepared to bear the sacrifice indefinitely. Quiescence is not necessarily synonymous to tranquility, nor acquiescence with affirmation.

SONY DSCThis was the obelisk dedicated to fallen soldiers in Pacific War Memorial. Before letting the tourists roam around, our guide reminded everyone to be mindful of and respect certain historical sites, especially this one. There’s nothing wrong with taking pictures but smiling and doing jump shots in front of markers made to remember the dead is distasteful. I always have to keep this in mind when travelling because I admittedly am guilty of taking inappropriate selfies.SONY DSCAfter the tour, overnight guests were dropped off at Corregidor Inn while the rest are transported back to the ferry terminal. If I were you I will avail of overnight tours because day tours are bitin. Since we had six vouchers, each of us had a twin room all to ourselves haha! Being the coward that I am, I spent the night with Fae and only used mine for the bathroom 🙂DSC_0777We availed of another tour for a fee of I think 150 or 250 pesos inclusive of sunset viewing, tour of the hospital, lateral tunnel tour, sunrise viewing and tour of another tunnel. For some reason clouds always ruin my view of sunsets and sunrises. The hospital tour wasn’t as scary as I thought and thank God I didn’t have any paranormal experience.SONY DSCI was actually pretty anxious about the lateral tunnel tour because I’m a bit claustrophobic and kuya guide told us that there’s no form of ventilation in some parts of the tunnel. What if I faint? Or slip? I was too nervous my heart rate shot up. Thank God for friends who are there to comfort and tell you that they won’t leave you alone. I was holding Ej and Fae’s hands during the tour and they always let me go first. I love you friends!20151126_063736Actually, my fear was uncalled for. Yes, it’s dark and in some parts I panicked a little because I couldn’t feel any air coming in but it was easier than I expected. Most of the pathways were large enough for a group of people to walk to and high enough for us not to bend while walking. This was the most eye-opening of all my activities in Corregidor. The place is not scary now but if you think about all the things that happened there, it gives you the creeps.

First off, Malinta Tunnel is actually created by the US Army as a bomb-proof storage of supplies, an underground 1,000 bed capacity hospital, the office of Douglas MacArthur, and the seat of the Commonwealth Government. As a nurse, my first reaction was: How the hell would patients survive in this environment? Where do the body excretions go? How would it have smelled back then? And it’s not only for a couple of days mind you but months on end! In one part of the tunnel, the guide asked us to turn off all our lights and make no sound to experience how the inhabitants (more than 4,000!) survived. It was one of the longest minutes of my life. There was total darkness if I wasn’t holding my friends’ hand I would have started crying. It was pitch black your sense of sight is practically useless. Imagine living here, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week while you hear/feel the occasional bombings outside! Traumatic is an understatement.

In another part of the tunnel, the guide pointed at black deposits on the walls and told us that those were from the bombs detonated by some Japanese soldiers who chose to commit suicide than surrender to the enemy prior to the recapture of Corregidor. Another version says that US soldiers, after trapping Japanese soldiers in one lateral of the tunnel during the recapture, poured gasoline and burned them alive!

My heart was heavy after the tour. I hope every single person gets to visit a war tunnel or I hope there’s technology for us to simulate the feeling of being at war to know that it’s anything but thrilling. Yes, war movies are entertaining but it’s one thing to watch from afar, it’s another to actually live in it.DSC_0902SONY DSCThe island is actually in the shape of a tadpole (or sperm, whatever floats your boat) composed of the topside, middle, lower, and tail parts. In the picture below taken from the topside during the sunrise tour, you can see the remaining parts.SONY DSC20151126_054921SONY DSCSONY DSCDSC_0692SONY DSCBreakfast for six please! Haha. The corned beef was reallllllllyyyyyyyy good. We weren’t able to finish everything we asked the waiter to refrigerate it for us so we can have food for lunch. Another thing about the trip is the sincere service of ALL the staff in Corregidor Inn. Everyone was genuinely helpful and kind. A waiter even gave us a cup of rice free of charge because he sensed that we were running out of budget HAHA. Small things that warm the heart! Do eat at La Playa restaurant, the servings are huge and the price reasonable. We just forgot to withdraw and there’s no ATM in the island hehe.20151126_072147After breakfast we hiked to Malinta Hill and I was reminded of how sedentary I have been these past couple of months. I was always catching my breath and I had a hard time even though it was an easy hike. Huhu I need to go back to my healthy ways!

Along the trail is a dilapidated structure and kuya said the view on top is the best so of course we had to climb. Only problem was, there’s no ladder so he improvised. I was scared at first — it was only made of branches and I’m not sure if it can carry my weight –but then again, I am thankful to friends who don’t get tired of encouraging me haha!SONY DSCSONY DSCSONY DSCSONY DSCTo make the trip extra special, we found a bomb on our way back! Even our guide couldn’t believe it at first because he thought most were already accounted for. He handled it carefully because there’s still the probability of an explosion. It will be donated to the War Museum. Nice!SONY DSCSONY DSCScored another perk in the ATV ride. HEHE. Kindness begets kindness.DSC_0878Corregidor buddies 🙂SONY DSC*Yep, contrary to popular knowledge, it’s not in Bataan.

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