Corregidor Island offers visitors a satisfying day trip from Manila. A small rocky island, its ruins now stand as a memorial to all the brave souls who perished during the Second World War where many Filipino and American soldiers fought against Japanese forces.
Corregidor means “the Rock” and its location near Manila Bay made it a strategic fort. Also called the island fortress, it defended the city from many naval attacks.
One of the most impressive and heartbreaking structures on the island is the Mile-Long Barracks. It is a three-story concrete building which was built to withstand hurricanes. It is not actually one mile long, which is equivalent to 5,280 feet. It spans closer to 1,520 feet yet still came to be known as the world’s longest military barracks. The American war general, Douglas MacArthur, housed headquarters inside.
American officers and other personnel quartered in the Mile-Long Barracks. During World War II, the barracks was one of the most heavily damaged building. Now, only its foundations are left and is a haunting reminder of the effects of war.
The barracks is located in the topside part of the island a few meters away from the Pacific War Memorial. The Pacific War Memorial honors the Filipino and American troops and houses a small museum. An open dome allows for daylight to fall on a circular altar in the memorial.
On the altar, the following words are inscribed: “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.” This area has a very quiet and sacred atmosphere.
To the left of the Pacific War Memorial’s entrance are the ruins of the Cine Corregidor. This was a pre-war recreational facility which housed a movie theater. The garrison personnel and their families watched movies in here. It is said the last film showed was “Gone with the Wind”. Now, parts of its walls and stairways to the balcony are the only remains. This structure reminds visitors that there was a vibrant community living here even before World War II struck.
Throughout the island, there are some now-silent artillery batteries which visitors can examine. The batteries are huge guns which took a small group of soldiers to operate. Their trajectory reached various ranges. The biggest, Battery Hearn, could fire 12-inch mortars as far away as 27 kilometers.
It cost $148,105 to assemble Battery Hearn and its twin, Battery Smith. Today, that is equivalent to over $2 million! Battery Hearn is especially iconic for the Japanese because it was photographed surrounded by victorious Japanese troops and used in Japanese propaganda during the war.
However, not all sites on this attraction are historic ruins. There is a 3,000 square meter complex that serves as an Aviary and Theme Park. It has various domestic and imported birds as well as monkeys. Many children enjoy this area.
Another popular site is the Spanish Lighthouse. At 628 feet above sea level, it is the highest point on the island and offers magnificent views of Corregidor Island, Manila Bay, South China Sea and Bataan and Cavite, which are provinces south of Manila.
It is a white lighthouse with a cross-shaped window. It is a striking image against the bright blue sky and the red pavement. The original lighthouse was first lit in 1853 but was destroyed by bombs during the war. The lighthouse was rebuilt using some of the original stones and is still being used today. As a reflection of technological progress, the lantern is now solar-powered.
Take a cab to CCP Bay terminal and book a tour through a tour agency; or book online. Alternatively, go to Vito Cruz LRT-1 station and take an orange jeepney near Rizal Stadium along Vito Cruz Street. Alight at CCP and go to the Manila Bay side.