Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Return to Corregidor

Corregidor - Tailside and Dramatic Tree
Corregidor Tailside towards sunset
Hiking through the forests, it's hard to imagine that tons of bombs were dropped on this tiny island some 65 years ago. Much of Corregidor is now covered with dense vegetation with only the ruins and newer installations serving as reminders of a dark page in our country's past. I remember an interview I did with Carlos Celdran years ago when he described the island as "the Philippine version of Angkor Wat... the remains of a lost empire". In a sense, he was right except that Corregidor isn't an altar to the deities but rather, a memorial to a war.

Corregidor - Milelong Sunset Silhouettes
Corregidor Milelong Ruins Sunset
When I was small, I used to wonder why the municipality was never rebuilt, the island never repopulated. Growing up, it dawned on me that there are some things in the past that are worth given a future, some lessons that ought to be relearned over and over. My most recent visit was my fourth time and yet, I learn something new each time. My first visits here, I only stayed for the day which I told our guide, Mang Pol, seem more like a teaser or appetizer because there's so much to explore, the daytrip is more like just skimming the surface.

Daytrippers never get to see the Topside Milelong Ruins, macabre-looking in the fading light of day. Nor do they get to catch the island's tail and nearby Caballo Island bathed in golden light. Daytime guests get to see Batteries Way and Grubs which are located near the paved roads but will miss out on Battery Wheeler emerging from the encroaching jungle and accessible only via a dirt trail.
corregidor - lateral 15
Lateral 15 at night
The Light and Sound Show at Malinta Tunnel at daytime offer a comprehensive if compact timeline of Corregidor's role in Philippine World War II history. It also gave some attendees the chills and discomfort of being in the dark if only for a few minutes. But after dark, the Malinta Tunnel becomes an otherworldly theater as one navigates through the laterals that served as a subterranean hospital during the war.  Contrast this to the serene vista of the North Dock after dusk where the lights of Mariveles twinkle across the water and the outlines of the Mt. Mariveles range often visible in the enveloping darkness.
Corregidor - Wharf Lights and Lightning at Night
Wharf Light and Lightning
While waiting for the ferry on our second afternoon, we contemplated on the many things we can do when we come back while having a hearty lunch at the McArthur Cafe and Restaurant in front of the Lorcha Dock. Call it serendipity or divine inspiration but we take our cue from Gen. Douglas McArthur whose statue stands by the dock, egging us to follow his lead "I shall return".  Indeed, we shall.
Backpack Photography Corregidor Poster
Backpack Photography invites you to Capture Corregidor in A New Light, an overnight photo-adventure trip to the island this June 25-26, 2011 • For details, visit or email


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