Wednesday, December 17, 2014

[CORREGIDOR] Correct Me If I'm Wrong

“Corregir” is a Spanish verb which means to “correct”, and a fundamental knowledge of Spanish suffixes should tell you that a “Corregidor” would be the one doing the correcting. Why name an island as such then? It does pique one’s curiosity, but there are several plausible theories mentioned by the tour guide to justify this island’s name: one involving the Acapulco-Manila galleon trade; and the other, that of the island being used as a correctional facility.

Before we dive into the technicalities, though, perhaps we should at least present a simple reason to convince you to drop by and visit. Corregidor is popular because of its history and the strategic role it played in the outcome of World War 2. As such, most tourists visiting the place are either interested in history or have something to do with their own personal histories. Japanese tourists revering their war heroes or Americans interested in World War II events in the Pacific Rim are not at all uncommon here.

There has also been a trend for couples going on a date. The island is a bit secluded and offers good panoramic views of Bataan and parts of Cavite. Perhaps, many of them find that amusing. I mean, why bring your date to a place with a predominantly military history, unless you both have a fetish for canons and big guns? And then you also have the bored Manila-based tourist. It only takes an hour and a half to reach Corregidor via ferry, making it a viable weekend day trip just because you can.

I wouldn't really know if it is possible to have a DIY trip. All I know is that Sun Cruises seems to have a monopoly of most of the tourism activity on the island. A typical day tour on a weekday will set you back around 2,350 pesos which includes the roundtrip ferry transfers, buffet lunch, a tour guide, as well as the admission fees for several attractions. Additional tourist activities on the island include ATV rides, a zipline, and a history show in Malinta Tunnel.

You will be boarding the ferry at around 7:30 AM, after which it will take you around an hour and a half to reach the island. The ride itself is rather eventless so make sure you bring something to keep you busy. Once you get off the boat, you will have a few minutes to snap photos of the scenery before they lead you to those tram like ride thingies that will be your main method of going around. You thought you were going to walk, didn’t you? I don’t think that’s an option.

The itinerary is divided into three. The first stops will be within the area which they refer to as tail side and bottom side. Refer to an island map to make sense of what this actually means. Lorcha Dock was among the first stops, if I recall it correctly. This is that part of the island where a statue of MacArthur had been erected to commemorate his “return”. Of course we all know what happened after that.

There will be enough time to go camwhoring at Lorcha Dock, but this first half of the excursion lasts just an hour, I think. What follows are views of some of the surrounding islands which have their very own interesting myths and legends. I forgot the name of the next attraction but it consists of several murals depicting events from the war, in effect a rather artsy refresher for those who already forgot the events back then. You will also find several statues commemorating war heroes.

A Japanese garden of sorts came next. This is the part where you will see Japanese tourists, most of them old, paying their respects to those they consider to be their very own war heroes. Of course, we already know that there is always an alternate version of history, and not one side has the monopoly of whatever they believe to be as the truth when it comes to these things. To each his own, I guess? Or perhaps mutual respect is the more appropriate answer.

This is also the part where the tourist guide will be narrating some notable anecdotes, such as those of old Japanese tourists crying or saying sorry for the war. I don't really want to judge the generations that came before us, but maybe to them the events of the past are still fresh in their minds as if it was just yesterday. Some of them could probably have experienced the war themselves, which perfectly explains why some couldn't help but be emotional. Be understanding, children. You’ll also grow old one day.

The garden is sort of connected to yet another garden which houses some cannons facing the sea. The nearby islands also make an appearance and rumor has it that you can see Bataan from afar on a clear sunny day. It would be a really nice picnic area in the late afternoon, although I'm not sure if that is allowed at all. The next stop is Malinta Tunnel where you will be treated to a lights and sounds show, if you are willing to shell out an extra 200 pesos, that is.

If you suddenly find yourself without a single centavo, you will be led to a different pathway and forced to wait for around an hour for those who would go inside to experience the spectacle. I suggest you not be a cheapskate and just join them. The impromptu history lesson is worth it, what with the neglect prevalent nowadays as far as our country’s history is concerned. This is the perfect time for a refresher!

The bonus is that some of the events recalled in the presentation really happened in the tunnels, and you even get a diorama of the personalities involved. It’s way better than just being told what happened there. The tunnel is said to have played a very big role in the outcome of the battles, so the mere fact of being there is an eerie experience in itself. Do not attempt to explore on your own. You might encounter ghosts! That would actually be fun, though, on second thought.

After the buffet lunch at Corregidor Hotel where most of the guests who opted for an overnight tour will be staying, you then get to explore the top side which is cannon overload. Look at these big cannons! Look at those big cannons! Ride the cannons! Strike your best pose in front of the cannons! It never ends. Unless you're a big fan of war artillery or just an insufferable camwhore, you wouldn't really enjoy this part of the trip. Cannons aside, you will also see the barracks.

The barracks are in ruins so I imagine it'd be more fun if you could stay overnight and be allowed to go ghost hunting. I mean, seriously, those ruins are creepy as fuck. But the creepiness is not maximized during daytime. Besides, you're not allowed to go near them, although the old cinema and some other old buildings at the end of the tour that are just as freaky can be explored somewhat. You will also see the Pacific War Memorial which dares to explain the events in the Pacific Rim in detail.

For history buffs, there's a museum, albeit a small one. It should suffice for those who forgot to review their history before coming over. I personally thought it was boring, but again that’s just me. Anyway, this part of the itinerary is around two hours and a half long and falls after lunchtime when the sun is at its brightest. You might want to dress up appropriately unless you want an instant tan. And yeah, there is a watchtower you can climb, at your own risk!
[CORREGIDOR] Correct Me If I'm Wrong

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