This is a grave mistake, I told myself. How could I not have been to Corregidor when I’ve lived in this city for decades now? My mother has been there twice and if I let another couple of years go by, my kids will probably visit it before I ever did. I had to rectify this error. So, I dragged my willing travel buddy with me to get up before the angels did and hopped on over to a ferry that would take us to Corregidor. Oh, and did I mention, this would be the second time that the willing travel buddy has been in this place too?
Corregidor is an island that holds a lot of military history. Its name comes from a Spanish word “corregir” which means “to correct” Research says taht the island was used by the Spanish as some sort of immigration port – where everyone who wanted to go to Manila needed to pass through first and have their papers checked and “corrected”. Other research says that the island was used as a penitentiary thus “correcting” criminals. Either way, the fact remains that the island is a perfect base for protecting a city, ergo the military involvement in the later years of its existence.
How to get there
There is only one company that does tours to Corregidor, and this is Sun Cruises. You can purchase a ticket from SM Ticketnet or at their ticketing office at the pier behind 1Esplenade at MoA. I wouldn’t suggest going online as their website is quite sucky and if you want to pay online, you’ll have more issues than conveniences.
You can try to DIY your trip but I wouldn’t recommend it. This means you have to drive to Bataan, hire a pump boat or banca (that isn’t licensed and will most probably not have any safety features) and leave the island at a certain time to avoid the high waves or darkness.
The ferry leaves at 7 AM. So, please be at the port early or on time. Trust me, they will leave you if you’re late. And no refunds if you’re late. There’s only one trip a day so make sure you ARE ON TIME.
Around the island
Once on the island, you get an assigned tour guide and tramvia – those old style tram/buses. This is your mode of transportation around the island. Your first stop is the Malinta tunnel lights and sounds tour for an extra 100 pesos. To be honest, the whole lights and sounds show is not that good anymore. To the defense of the tour though, they did say that they are going to renovate it soon.
If you’re like me and aren’t keen on going on the tour, you can just hop on the tramvia again and take a ride to the other side of the tunnel and take photos of the beach and south dock. This is also a perfect time to take a photo of the Malinta tunnel without a lot of people, so live it up!
The tour comes with lunch but don’t expect too much. Lunch was quite basic but filling. Try to get a table at the veranda facing the ocean. Lunch is much better with an awesome view.
The real tour comes after lunch. Visitors get to see all the different ruins and military artifacts in the island. History and military buffs will get a kick in all the data about the island. The artifacts and guns show the damage done to them in terms of holes, shrapnel marks and other war induced damages.
It’s a mixture of awe and melancholy that washes over you when you see them. On one hand, I am in awe of the sheer power of these weapons and structures and in the other hand, I feel sad thinking about the lives lost in this island who were just trying to protect other people – mainly, Filipinos.
On a personal note, if you’re going to Corregidor for the sake of just going and having some photos for your social media accounts, please be considerate of others who would like to listen to the tour guide and actually learn something. I had to shush several people several times!
The whole tour is going to be hot. I mean, like you’ve relocated nest to the sun kind of hot. So, bring the usual necessities – water, sunblock and wear a wide brimmed hat. There are some stores there that sell water and other drinks but it’s better to bring your own as you may not see any stores for a bit.
Wear comfortable clothes and shoes. There will be walking involved so be comfortable. I would suggest a cover up though because, well, the sun.
Please, please, PLEASE throw your garbage in the proper receptacle. It’s horrifying to see a beach full of garbage in the island and the tourists were taking photos of it. The tour operators and the local government council should do something about this because it’s such a turn off. You can do your part by making sure that you DO NOT add to the garbage problem in the island. Carry your garbage in your bag while you can’t find a garbage can. Don’t throw your cigarette butts on the ground! BE RESPONSIBLE!
Other than that. Go have fun and learn something.