Last December 26th, the family and I went on a Corregi-venture (Thanks Chris for the catchy term! Haha!) I only had two hours of sleep the previous night (mostly because of all the
food sweets I ate! Spell hyper mode!) Thankfully, the ferry we rode on was large and comfortable, so I had no trouble catching up on sleep. We all availed of the Day Tour by the way, which included roundtrip ferry transfers, shrine and entrance fees, guided island tour and a lunch buffet. If you’re interested, you can view the complete list of tour packages on the Sun Cruises website here. I suggest you book reservations too to avoid lining up at the terminal. We left the terminal at around 7:45AM. You can find it just after the Folk Arts Theatre at the CCP Complex in Manila.
After about an hour and a half (9:15AM) we finally reached the island.
These open buses (Tramvias) were waiting for us at the dock. All passengers get assigned to a bus, whose number is printed on the sticker they will give you upon payment. Be sure to find your bus as soon as possible to get good seats, because this will be your permanent seat for the rest of the tour. We got to ours late (haha!) so we were scattered. I was seated next to Chelsea and a stranger, which was not at all bad because I’m all for meeting new people!
Meet our friendly (and very funny) tour guide, Kuya Bryan. He, along with Kuya Orly (the driver) and the 18 other people in our bus were our companions for the next 5 hours.
I took so much photos that it took me (plus the help of Tommy and Chelsea) over an hour to choose which photos to share here. Take a tour with me as I take you through what happened that day in photos and captions!
The first stop was at the Japanese Memorial Cemetery. It was a very formal, serene place, with lots of trees and shade. It also offered a magnificent view of the ocean.
The Jibo Kannon Stone Buddha
Some quick tips: When going to the island, make sure you’re in comfortable clothes and footwear. You could also bring an umbrella but I opted to just bring a hat. Bottled water is a must, and snacks are optional (I brought chocolates LOL) but you could always just buy from your bus driver. Bringing a change of clothes is a good idea too, since you’ll definitely perspire a lot due to all the walking.
Next in line was the Filipino Heroes Memorial (known as the FHM of Corregidor, as our funny tour guide mentioned. Haha!) It has 14 murals depicting the different eras of struggle from the Battle of Mactan in 1521 up to the more recent People Power Revolution in 1986. It also housed the President Sergio Osmena Park, a small park dedicated to Sergio Osmena, the second president of the Philippine Commonwealth.
The entrance to the Malinta Tunnel. Guests can opt to stay on the buses or buy tickets for the lights and sounds show for 200php.
Lights and sound show inside the Malinta Tunnel. I won’t say anything so as not to spoil the show. But I assure you, it is something that you have to see for yourself!
Then it was time for the lunch buffet! I wasn’t able to take photos of the food, but to give you an idea, there was a salad bar, two pasta dishes, paella, and various meat and vegetable dishes. I attacked the fruits station (okay, more like watermelon station haha!) because I love fruits! I also loved the pandan juice! It’s super refreshing, especially after all the walking we did during the first part of the tour!
The remains of the Cine Corregidor. According to our guide, the last movie shown here was ‘Gone with the Wind’
This is the Eternal Flame, a solar powered steel structure which symbolizes the flame of freedom. Behind it is a breathtaking view of the Manila Bay, the Bataan Peninsula, and the coastline of Cavite.
Next was the Pacific War Memorial. In the middle of it was a rotunda, with a marble altar inscribed with the following words: "Sleep, my sons, your duty done, for Freedom’s light has come; sleep in the silent depths of the sea, or in your bed of hallowed sod, until you hear at dawn the low, clear reveille of God."
An American soldier helping a wounded Filipino soldier
There was also a musuem that housed a variety of memorabilia related to the rich history of Corregidor.
The final stop was at the highest point of the island, where you could find the Spanish Lighthouse. Unfortunately, all the three lighthouses were either closed or under construction that day. Too bad too because I heard they show a magnificent view of the whole of Corregidor, Manila Bay, the South China Sea, and the neighboring provinces of Bataan and Cavite.
And that concludes our tour! We got back to Manila at around 4PM. We went to our favorite Pares place in Retiro first (sudden cravings!) before going home. I really had a great time! Corregidor Island is definitely a place every Filipino should visit at least once! :)
Photos by Chelsea Ajose, Papa, and I.