Have you been to Corregidor Island?
If you live in Manila, you probably haven’t. It’s so ironic that the places near us are the last ones to be visited.
I have been all over the Philippines, and have lived in Manila for over 18 years, but it wasn’t until I was invited by Sun Cruises (through Ivan Henares) that I got to go to Corregidor.
Corregidor is a small island in the mouth of the Manila Bay, standing guard against foreign invaders during World War II. It is tadpole shaped, and served as the headquarters of American forces in the 1940s.
Nowadays, all that’s left of them are buildings in ruins, tunnels, and a number of large weapons that serve to remind us that what freedom we enjoy today we owe to the brave men and women in our past.
Sun Cruises, the only ferry service going to Corregidor, is promoting the island as a premier tourist destination: it is history, adventure, and family fun combined.
Our group of travel bloggers chose the Adventure Challenge, and since there were 12 of us, we got split up into two groups: the Orange and Red Teams. We were equipped with a flashlight, an adventure kit (water, energy bar, sunscreen), lots of good luck from the Sun Cruises crew, and off we went!
We then hunted for the three pieces of maps in the gun batteries (Battery Grubbs, Hearn, and Smith, all named after American lieutenants), solved puzzles and performed dexterity exercises, explored the bombed out Red Cross Hospital and other ruins, raced across the Duckwalk and Japanese tunnels, climbed the Golden Staircase, and looked out over the bay in the Eternal Flame monument.
We also got to climb the Lighthouse; if it had not been a race, I would have wanted to stay longer there and take more pictures.
All in all, it was 3 hours of fun and excitement. I got to run again, and it was a very good feeling, despite knowing that I may pay for it later.
According to Bobby Aquino of Sun Cruises, the Adventure Challenge started out as a team building package for companies several years ago. They realized later though that friends and even family members may also enjoy the activity, given that the route will take the participants in sites which are not usually seen by tourists who will choose the Historical Guided Tour package.
“Our goal is for people to see a different Corregidor,” Bobby said. “It can also be for those who have been there before and would like another way of experiencing the island.”
Is the Adventure Challenge physically difficult? Not really. It only became so because we wanted to run and feel “competitive.” Yes, our team won (Team Orange, a.k.a. Team Jumpshot) but in the end, it didn’t really matter. I enjoyed seeing Corregidor from the ground (not on a tram), exploring its bat-filled ruins and going through the tunnels that Filipino and American soldiers had once used.
I loved trekking in the jungle, and was amazed at the thought that half a decade ago, these forests had been non-existent, the whole place bombed out by the Japanese.
Or maybe I enjoyed it because I really love to explore. I don’t enjoy guided tours; I would prefer to do things on my own, to get lost and find my way again.
Although we really didn’t have a chance to get lost in Corregidor (our very kind, very good photographer/marshall took care of that), I still had a feeling that if I had the chance, I would have lost myself in the jungle purposefully and immersed myself fully in the history of the place, glad and thankful for those unnamed soldiers who contributed to what the Philippines has become today.
Perhaps I’ll have that chance the next time I go to Corregidor Island.
Sun Cruises charges P1,999 for the historical guided tour. The adventure challenge costs the same (book this in advance, there’s a minimum of 4 participants. Call their office at 834-6857). The fee includes transportation, guide fees, and buffet lunch.
Touring the Malinta Tunnel is optional; it costs P150/person. There’s a 300m zipline which is optional as well, costing the same. For those who would like to stay overnight, just add P500.