Corregidor Overnight Tour: Thrill-Seeking in this Historic Island

Saturday, 29 November 2014

Corregidor Island is the perfect travel destination for those who love war history, anecdotes of survival, tales of allegiance, and a sprinkling of ghost stories.

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Corregidor Island is the perfect travel destination for those who love war history, anecdotes of survival, tales of allegiance, and a sprinkling of ghost stories.

Spanish-era lighthouse at Corregidor Island
Spanish-era lighthouse

Corregidor Overnight Tour: Thrill-Seeking in this Historic Island


    Corregidor has always had an air of mystery, primarily because it had once been the site of a violent event. Add to that the fact that the island is deserted, save for a handful of hotel personnel who live here.

    Even with the light of the day, the generally dark feeling that surround you is palpable. Nevertheless, a trip to Corregidor Island, is every thrill-seeker’s dream adventure.

    History of Corregidor Island


    The rocky Corregidor Island, also known as Fort Mills, with its strategic location at the mouth of Manila Bay has been used since the Spanish occupation as a registration site for ships entering Manila. During the American occupation, Corregidor was fortified as a military station — complete with intricate tunnel system and strong ammunition.

    The island served as the primary defense fort of Manila when Japanese forces invaded the country. Today, only the ruins of the barracks and hospitals remain.

    Corregidor Island is part of the province of Cavite although geographically, it is more proximate to the province of Bataan.

    Our Corregidor Island Experience


    The mystery shrouding Corregidor Island has always intrigued me. I wanted to see and experience the island, with its ruins and stories, for myself. It was a year ago when Khris and I planned on going to Corregidor Island. There were a few times when I planned on going but, unfortunately, those did not push through.

    A view of the Manila skyline on the way to Corregidor Island
    A photo of the Manila skyline as our ferry departs for Corregidor

    It was funny though because this trip to Corregidor Island was actually one of Khris and I’s spur-of-the-moment out of town adventures. We booked the overnight tour through Sun Cruises immediately for the coming weekend.

    At the port before boarding the ferry bound for Corregidor Island
    Photo taken at the waiting area of Manila Sun Cruises while waiting for our departure

    All in all, it was a tour that we would always recommend. It was an easy tour, no itinerary-planning was needed because Sun Cruises will handle it. The tour guides are engaging and knowledgeable, and they also know how to crack jokes at the right moment.

    By the way, if you want to avail of the ghost-hunting tour, you should avail of the overnight package because the day tour does not include it.

    How to go to Corregidor Island


    The only route going to the island was via a one-hour ferry ride from the CCP Complex.  It was a smooth and comfortable journey because the weather was fine. Going back to Manila involved taking the same route.

    A barge in Manila Bay near the Sun Cruises station
    A photo of a barge at the Manila Sun Cruises port

    10 things to do in Corregidor Island


    When we arrived at Corregidor Island, we were ushered to our assigned tranvias. Upon arriving at the island, we were greeted by tranvias that will take us around the island for the entire duration of the tour. According to our guide, tranvias were the primary means of transportation in the island during World War II. The present-day tranvias are engine-operated, unlike the original ones that were electric-powered and ran on tracks.

    Inside a tranvia in Corregidor Island
    Here’s how the tranvia looks like from inside (yes, those bags of Chippy, as well as cold Coke and bottled water, are for sale)

    As soon as we were all settled in, our tour guide gave us an overview of the island’s geography — the Topside, Middle side, and Bottom side. 

    The section of Corregidor Island with the biggest land area is the Topside. This is the location of the Army headquarters, barracks, officers’ quarters, most of the artillery batteries, Pacific War Memorial, and an old Spanish lighthouse.

    The Middle Side is where the officers’ quarters, barracks, hospital, quarters for non-commissioned officers, and schools are located. The hospital, reputed to be haunted, is a favorite site for ghost-hunting tours.

    The Bottom Side is the lower part of the island that serves as the neck that connects the head and the tail of the island. The Malinta Tunnel, the last stronghold of the Philippine and American Military forces, is located here. This tunnel was originally intended as a bunker but it was eventually converted to a 1000-bed hospital.

    View of Caballo Island from Corregidor Island
    Our guide pointed Caballo Island from here but I could not see it

    We proceeded with our tour when our guide finished with the overview of the island's geography. Depending on the tour package that you availed of, these are the landmarks that you may expect to see during your tour:

    1. Statue of General Douglas MacArthur


    Our first stop was as the General Douglas MacArthur Park. Prominently displayed here is a life-size bronze statue of General MacArthur. A marker engraved with his famous line "I shall return" is located at the foot of the statue.

    Life-size bronze statue of General Douglas MacArthur at Corregidor Island
    Statue of Gen. Douglas McArthur, who used the island as allied headquarters and as an escape route to Australia

    The General Douglas MacArthur Park is located near Lorcha Dock; this is where General MacArthur set sail to Australia.

    2. Japanese and American Tunnels


    This was not a part of the stopover but out guide pointed to us examples of a Japanese and an American cave. She emphasized that the differences between the two are the sizes and the location. In terms of size, Japanese tunnels are was smaller as compared to those of the Americans'. Japanese tunnels are located along the coast while American tunnels are along cliffs.

    A Japanese tunnel at Corregidor Island
    This is an example of a Japanese tunnel, much smaller than an American tunnel according to our guide

    3. Japanese Garden of Peace


    We had our first stopover at the Japanese Garden of Peace. This place is dedicated to thousands of Japanese soldiers who perished during the war. Once a cemetery covered by dense undergrowth, it was eventually discovered because of the photo below, and the remains were exhumed, cremated, and repatriated to Japan.

    Old photo of the Japanese Military Cemetery at Corregidor Island
    The Japanese Garden of Peace was formerly a cemetery for Japanese soldiers killed during the war

    Photo of Japanese soldiers at Corregidor Island during the war
    A photo of Japanese soldiers during the war

    Cleared of thick shrubs and subsequently landscaped, the Japanese Garden today features shrines and markers that serve as memorial for the Japanese soldiers formerly interred here. Interestingly, there is also a statue of a Japanese fertility deity located here.

    Statue of a Japanese fertility deity at Corregidor Island
    A Japanese fertility deity

    There is also a small souvenir shop here at the Japanese Garden of Peace that also doubles as a mini museum where an old and worn out Japanese flag is displayed. Likewise showcased were old bills and photos taken during World War II.

    An old Japanese flag at Corregidor Island
    Old Japanese flag

    Old bank notes at Corregidor Island
    Collection of old bank notes

    Anti-aircraft artillery at Corregidor Island
    Anti-aircraft artillery
    Memorial marker at the Japanese Garden of Peace at Corregidor Island
    A memorial marker

    4. Filipino Heroes Memorial


    From the Japanese Garden, we proceeded to the Filipino Heroes Memorial. According to our guide, they do not bring Japanese guests here because of cultural sensitivity. The murals depict the atrocities committed by Japanese soldiers against Filipino men and women.

    Filipino Heroes Memorial at Corregidor Island
    At the Filipino Heroes Memorial

    Garden in front of the Filipino Heroes Memorial at Corregidor Island
    At the garden fronting the Filipino Heroes Memorial

    From the Filipino Heroes memorial, our guide announced that we would have a one-hour lunch break at Corregidor Inn before proceeding to the last leg of the day trip, which consisted of tours around the ruined soldiers' quarters and batteries..

    We had lunch buffet of salad, rice, meat, dessert, and drinks. The food was good and filling but nothing spectacular. Anyway, we went here for the adventure and not really for the food.

    Lunch buffet at Corregidor Island
    Enjoying the lunch buffet

    Enjoying the view after lunch at Corregidor Island
    Lunch was ordinary but the view behind us is spectacular

    5. Middleside Barracks


    The images of Corregidor Island that remained in my head are that of the ruined barracks. Honestly, this is the part of the tour that I was most excited to see. We made a short stop at the Middleside barracks for photo ops.

    Middleside barracks at Corregidor Island
    Middleside barracks

    Front of the middleside barracks at Corregidor Island
    Front of the middleside barracks

    Barracks for ammunition storage at Corregidor Island
    Barracks for ammunition storage

    6. Corregidor Island's Main Batteries


    Corregidor has three main batteries named after American generals: Battery Way, Battery Hearn, and Battery Grubbs.

    Battery Way at Corregidor Island
    Battery Way

    Inside Battery Way's ammunition storage barracks at Corregidor Island
    Inside Battery Way's ammunition barracks

    Of the three batteries, Battery Way is the smallest and features a barracks for storing ammunition. Meanwhile, Battery Hearn is the biggest as held the most importance among the three.

    Battery Hearn at Corregidor Island
    Battery Hearn

    The last that we visited was Battery Grubbs. From here, the small La Monja Island is visible.

    7. Mile-Long Barracks


    We made a quick stopover at the Mile-Long Barracks, which was the longest garrison according to our guide.

    8. Pacific War Memorial


    From the batteries, we went to the Pacific War Memorial. Located here are the Pacific War Memorial Dome, ruins of Cine Corregidor, a museum containing artifacts from World War II, and the Eternal Flame of Freedom.

    Artifacts on display inside the Pacific War Memorial Museum at Corregidor Island
    Artifacts inside the Pacific War Memorial Museum

    The Eternal Flame of Freedom at Corregidor Island
    The Eternal Flame of Freedom

    Cine Corregidor ruins
    Cine Corregidor

    9. Spanish Lighthouse


    The last stop for the day tour was at the highest peak of Corregidor Island where a Spanish Lighthouse stood. 


    The Spanish lighthouse is the oldest structure in Corregidor Island
    The Lighthouse — our last stop for the day tour
    We availed of an evening tour which consisted of a visit to a ruined hospital and the Malinta Tunnel. From the Spanish Lighthouse, the last stop of the day tour, our guide told us that we could take a rest and reassemble the lobby of the Corregidor Inn at around 6:00 PM. 

    On the appointed time, the evening tour participants gathered at the hotel lobby where a guide was waiting for us. We boarded our assigned tranvia and proceeded to our destination. Along the way, there are more ruins such as a school and a department store which used to sell imported goods. Keep your eyes also peeled for monkeys playing by the roadside.

    10. "Ghost-hunting" at the hospital ruins



    Inside the hospital ruins in Corregidor Island
    Inside the ruined hospital — said to be one of the eeriest places in Corregidor

    The hospital ruins at Corregidor Island
    The hospital ruins

    Our first stop was the hospital ruins for a ghost-hunting. People claim that the hospital is one of the most haunted places in the island. That may hold true as hospitals bear witness to numerous deaths and sufferings. 

    Anyway, we did not really summon spirits or made attempts to detect their presence. It was more of a story-telling session courtesy of our guide about the supposed ghosts haunting the place. Well, the hospital ruins was spooky alright but thankfully we did not see any otherworldly being floating about.

    10. Malinta Tunnel 


    The peak of the evening tour is a walk inside the Malinta Tunnel, the last stronghold of the joint Philippine and American military forces before the Japanese takeover. Malinta Tunnel was named after linta (leeches) which workers found to be abundant inside the tunnel.

    Our guide showed us around, mostly in dark corners, as well as old offices and equipment when the tunnel was converted to a hospital. Here, our guide told us more stories of sufferings and atrocities committed during World War II.

    Inside the Malinta Tunnel at Corregidor Island
    Inside the Malinta Tunnel for the evening tour

    An old typewriter inside Malinta Tunnel at Corregidor Island
    An old typewriter used during war time 

    One of the scenes at the Malinta Tunnel light show in Corregidor Island
    One of the scenes in the Malinta Tunnel light show

    A visit to the tunnel usually included a light show and an audio-visual presentation but these were unavailable that evening because Malinta Tunnel was being renovated. 

    Corregidor Inn


    We stayed at Corregidor Inn, the only hotel in the island. It's a small hotel, old but well-kept. It had that old world appeal. There were not really much amenities, save for a small swimming pool beside it. 

    The room had a bed, an air-conditioning unit, and a bathroom -- just the bare necessities to survive a night or two.

    Other Travel Notes and Tips


    Here are a few other things that you may also want to keep in mind with regard to the Corregidor Island tour:
    1. Food in the hotel can be pricey so it's best if can bring your own.
    2. Wear comfortable clothes and footwear.
    3. Bring first-aid kit as well as insect repellant.
    4. Bring swimwear as there is a swimming pool beside Corregidor Inn. The beach is also open for swimmers but do not expect Boracay-like sand and water.
    5. Souvenirs sold outside the hotel are least expensive.
    6. The island is powered by generators so there is no television in the hotel rooms so as to minimize power consumption.
    7. There is a small chapel near the hotel.
    8. Bring enough cash with you.

    MAP OF CORREGIDOR ISLAND

    How to book a Corregidor Island Tour

    Interested individuals may book a Corregidor tour through the following:

    Reservations Office
    21/F, Times Plaza Bldg., Ermita, Manila
    Tel: (632) 8465-8840
    Mobile: 0998-9683256
    E-mail: [email protected]

    Sales Office
    21/F, Times Plaza Bldg., Ermita, Manila
    Tel. Nos. (632) 8465-8836 to 37
    Mobile: 0998-9683013, 0998-9683015
    E-mail: [email protected]

    Corregidor Inn
    Corregidor Island, Cavite
    Mobile: 0998-968-3100
    E-mail: [email protected]

    How to go to Sun Cruises port


    Option 1: From North via Roxas Boulevard (Luneta)

    1. From Taft Avenue, turn right to Quirino Avenue
    2. Turn left to Roxas Boulevard
    3. When you reach CCP, turn right to Pedro Bukaneg Street
    4. Turn right to Maria Guerrero Street Parking area

      Option 2: Form South via Roxas Boulevard

      1. From Baclaran, head straight to Roxas Boulevarad
      2. When you reach CCP, turn left to Pedro Bukaneg Street
      3. Turn right to Maria Guerrero Street Parking area

        Option 3: Public Transportation

        A. From South

        - Ride LRT 1 from Baclaran going to Vito Cruz Station
        - Cross the street going to Pablo Ocampo Street (Rizal Stadium)
        - Ride an Orange Jeep going to Folk Arts Theater/ Coconut Palace
        - Walk going to Paseo Palisoc Street (Parking Area)B. From North
        - Ride LRT 1 from Balintawak or Monumento going to Vito Cruz Station
        - Walk going to Pablo Ocampo Street (Rizal Stadium)
        - Ride an Orange Jeep going to Folk Arts Theater/ Coconut Palace
        - Walk going to Paseo Palisoc Street (Parking Area)

        PIN THIS ARTICLE

        Also read: Intramuros: a walk back into the Philippines' colonial past (updated travel guide)


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        29 comments

        1. I love to go sightseeing and I really enjoy tours the most. I bet you had a great time on your overnight weekend tour. I absolutely love all of your clear and vivid photos. It's the next best thing to being there.

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        2. This place is gorgeous. I have never visited it but my friend went there once and she absolutely loved it

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        3. This looks like a really interesting place. I love your black and white photographs - they really complement the blog post.

          Rosie | www.rosieromance.com

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        4. What an interesting destination. Thanks for bringing this off the beaten path blog post to my attention

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        5. thetravelpockets2 August 2016 at 07:12

          OMG I had no idea this island existed!! I love WWII history and now this is on my bucket list to visit. Thank you!

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        6. Tours are always great. I really enjoy classic pictures and you did just that! Adding black and white to those pictures ended up with an outstanding result! Super cool! I also have something for abandoned buildings, don't know why!

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        7. I like history anyway so this overnight tour about the war sounds like a really good experience. Loved the photos too.

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        8. soulsensecoaching2 August 2016 at 10:00

          Interesting tour, especially the Japanese Garden of Peace. Tours are often a great way to learn about more obscure places of interest like this, which I hadn't heard of.

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        9. It's awesome that you were able to see so many historical places. The stops on the day tour sounded so cool.

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        10. I've been there before but we only did the day tour and went home right after. It's a very lovely place especially since I love learning about WWII and what the soldiers went through during that time.

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        11. I liked all the photos, everything seems so nice. Japanese garden of peace is really beautiful. It's funny how I don't believe in ghost generally but I wouldn't go near that haunted hospital.

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        12. I would love to go to the Japanese garden! It looks gorgeous!

          Love,
          Ivelisse | CarnationDreams.com

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        13. With TBEX coming up soon, I need to learn more about the Philippines.

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        14. Very interesting places to visit! A friend of mine is planning to visit Manila in the end of this year so I will share this one for him.

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        15. I really love our country for having great sites filled with culture and history. Love your photos!

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        16. Thank you. Glad you found the post helpful. :)

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        17. Thanks for dropping by. Glad to be of help!

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        18. Agree with you, abandoned buildings gain their own character. Thanks for dropping by.

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        19. Thank you! Yup, it's more fun in the Philippines. :)

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        20. Haha. Thank you! Maybe because the hospital looks sad.

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        21. You should try staying overnight. The hotel is lovely.

          ReplyDelete

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