Just a quick ferry ride away from the capital city of Manila is a small island that’s rich with history.
This is Corregidor Island. Ever since the late sixteenth century, the island has served as a military stronghold for the country. It played an especially important role during World War II, being the first line of defense for the city of Manila against the Japanese invaders.
But Corregidor’s days as a military base are over. Nowadays, the island stands as a memorial for all the lives lost in World War II.
The most important monument on the island is the Pacific War Memorial, which remembers all the American and Filipino soldiers who served during wartime. The memorial features a rotunda, with a circular altar lying directly under it. Every year on May 6 at noon, sunlight directly rests on the circular altar, commemorating the fall of Corregidor on that exact date in 1942.
Directly behind the Pacific War Memorial is the Eternal Flame of Freedom, a 12-meter (40-foot) tall structure by American sculptor Aristides Demetrios. The structure symbolizes liberty and peace.
Another memorial found on the island is the controversial Japanese Garden of Peace. The garden stands to remember fallen Japanese soldiers.
For those who enjoy military history, make sure to pay a visit to Corregidor’s Topside and Battery Way. Battery Way houses many of the island’s artillery batteries and cannons, while Topside, the island’s tallest point, is home to ruins of old army barracks, schools, and even a movie theatre.
Make sure to take a tour of the Malinta Tunnel, a military bunker and hospital used during the war. The tour features a lights and sounds show, in which visitors will feel like they’ve been transported back to wartime, thanks to the use of recordings of conversations between President Manuel L. Quezon and General Douglas MacArthur discussing the country’s military strategies.
Another must-see on the island is the Corregidor Lighthouse. Built in 1853, the lighthouse continues to be used up to today. Climb to the top to see a panoramic view of the island and the surrounding areas.
It doesn’t matter if you’re a history buff or someone who fell asleep during history class in high school. A trip to Corregidor is bound to open your eyes to the rich history that the Philippines has to offer.
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