Thursday, November 27, 2014

Thrilling Escape to Corregidor Island

Trambia cruising along a picturesque coastline.
For the first time ever, I agreed to spend the night in Corregidor.  I have been coming to this historical island for a number of times, but only to join the day trip tour. Craving for excitement and new adventure, I decided to go for the overnight stay.  I made the right decision and had an unforgettable stay.

South Beach in Corregidor
Many documents and articles about the history of Corregidor has already been published, so I think I will skip the bulk of that.  The island has seen a lot of action, heroism and death during World War 2, involving the Americans, Japanese and Filipinos.  The island is known worldwide for its  role during the war, thus, tourists around visit Corregidor, and pay their respects to fallen soldiers and heroes.

Beach Front Cabanas
On my last visit, which was organized by PR guru and business partner, Mr. Bernard Supetran courtesy of Sun Cruises, Inc., I was happy to re-discover Corregidor Island. After the usual day tour, visiting the barracks, batteries, ruins, war memorial, and a sumptuous lunch at the Corregidor Inn, I stayed on with seven other colleagues in print and online publishing.  We were billeted at the beach cubanas, with a spectacular view of the sea. A twin room is tagged at a reasonable price of Php 2,500 per night. Walking to the beach, I was pleasantly surprised that the water is clear, and with large pebbles scattered here and there, the scenery was very attractive and reminded me a bit of Normandy, the irony of it.

Smooth pebbles lead to clear waters.

Night Tour

Catching the beautiful sunset was the first stop of the tour. It was an amazing sight, viewing it from Corregidor without the city pollution. Our group had a nice surprise when we saw a full arch of a rainbow appearing, just as the sun was setting.   It was my first time to witness this, and I truly feel blessed to be there at that right moment.  Shortly thereafter, we proceeded to commence the night tour at around 6 PM.

Sunset view from Corregidor Island is untarnished by city pollution.

It is not your ordinary night tour.  Staying in an island where thousands of people who died violently is not for the faint-hearted. Nevertheless, it was thrilling and I was really excited about joining the night tour.  Corregidor Foundation, Inc., is the body that organizes the Malinta Tunnel Tour.  But this time, for the evening's excitement, tourists get to enjoy and be thrilled with the Lateral Tour, dubbed as "Ghost Hunting" Tour.  Let me tell you this early, that I did not encounter any ghosts or felt any spirits, but then again, it was really creepy and fun.

We entered the woods as dusk was settling in.  We were going to visit the hospital ruins, bombarded by the Japanese during the 2nd World War.  It was a three-story building, shaped like a cross, built on the highest point of the island. Thousands of patients, soldiers, doctors and nurses were present when this was blasted, despite of the clear cross formation of the building in view from the top.

Our night tour guide, Edward, was so detailed with the stories and was also good in cracking jokes, it was a reliever to many of us who were already jittery.  We only had flashlights in our hands when we entered the ruined hospital building.  It was pitch dark, and the moon was not shining through the dense trees.  We went to the then emergency room, the reception, and up to the 2nd and 3rd floors, where the walls have been blown apart.  It was an interesting hospital ruins tour, and I learned even more about the damages of war, not only in buildings, but the courageous and selfless characteristics of brave souls as well.

Leaving the ruins behind, we once again rode the trambia to visit the Malinta Tunnel Lateral Tour.  Now, I did not know that this tunnel was like a labyrinth.  During the day tour, visitors only go through the tunnel in a straight line from one end to the other with a light and sound show of the events leading to the capture of Corregidor.

Not known to many, the Malinta tunnel has laterals; 13 laterals to the north side, and 11 to the south side.  One portion used to contain the 100 hospital beds wherein the survivors of the hospital bombing transferred to. This bombproof shelter was built over 10 years, starting in 1922, and finished in 1933.  Blowers were installed for circulation of fresh air.

"Ghost Hunting" with Irene Enriquez of

We donned on helmets and carried flashlights to go through these laterals.  It was exciting and truly very interesting to hear great moments, and at the same time sad stories in history.  The laterals used to be 15 feet in height and width, but since many caved in because of suicidal Japanese bombers during their last days, we had to stoop low in some areas, and the path was quite rocky.  Some laterals were narrow, and of course it was pitch black.  It was a thrilling tour. Before we knew it, the night tour was over, and we headed back to Corregidor Inn for dinner.

Morning After Adventure

It was worth waking up at 5 AM the next day to join the morning tour, which starts with sunrise watching.  Our group took the trambia to the tail end of the island to get the best view of the sunrise.  Right after that, we had a short hike through secret tunnels and passageways, created by the Japanese troops.  It was a pleasant walk in the woods and the secret entrances to these tunnels were quite hidden in the under bush.  

Secret entrance to a tunnel.

Underground passageway leading to the beach.

Other activities that Corregidor has in store for the whole family are biking (you may bring your own bike), zip lining, riding an ATV, kayaking, and of course, swimming in the clear, and pristine waters of South Beach.  The whole package night and morning tour costs only 250 Pesos per person. Camping is also possible, as they have tents for rent at 500 Pesos each.

Driving an ATV.

So if you are looking for an adventure, an educational trip, and an affordable weekend getaway not far from Manila, just escape to Corregidor.

This tadpole shaped island is just one hour and half ferry ride away from CCP Complex, Manila.  The Sun Cruises dock is located before reaching Folk Arts Theatre. For rates, please click here.

Watch: Selfie Zip Lining Video

Find Corregidor Island on Facebook by clicking here.

Find Sun Cruises, Inc. on Facebook by clicking here.

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