The Philippines: Corregidor “Just Off the Beaten Path”
Updated: Oct 18, 2019
May 1942, 75,000 Japanese soldiers of the Imperial Japanese Army faced off with about 13,000 Allied (Pilipino and American) soldiers on the tiny Philippine island of Corregidor. The vastly outnumbered and under supplied defenders of Corregidor never had a chance. At one point over 12,000 Japanese shells a day landed on Corregidor Island. The Allies suffered over 800 killed soldiers, 1,000 wounded and another 11,000 captured in two days of fighting, but the worst was not over at that point. The Bataan Death march was still to come.
If you are going to the Philippines on a military deployment, business or even a vacation, a little island hopping may be in order and Corregidor Island is just a hop, skip and jump away from Manila. Located in Manila Bay, Corregidor Island is about a 30-minute boat ride away. There are tours that depart Manila daily for Corregidor. The island is just south of the Bataan Peninsula of the Luzon province area (Also the Starting Point of the Bataan Death Marth) and still shows the scars of two invasions, one by the Japanese in 1942 and the other from the Americans retaking the island back in 1945.
Corregidor Island served as a key element in the Allied defensive plans for the Philippines in the years following WW1. It was officially named Fort Mills. The little Philippine island is shaped very much like a tadpole. The island was heavily fortified with numerous coastal gun batteries which mounted 56 guns of various sizes to take on any navel invaders. The Japanese paid a heavy price in blood to take the island, losing over 900 men with another 1,200 wounded, but take it they did.
For the military buff inside you, you can walk the path of the allied defenders and the Japanese invaders. Take a visit to the Malinta Tunnel that still has areas closed off due to suspected unexploded ordnances from two invasions and which was the headquarters of Generals Macarthur before his departure from the Philippines and Gen. Wainwright and their staffs. Malinta Tunnel also served as the island’s hospital before and during the Japanese invasion. Explore the bombed-out ruins of Mile-Long Barracks that once housed allied soldiers or even the different gun emplacements such as Battery Crockett and others along Battery Way that are still there today. You can walk the beaches that the Japanese landing forces used to invade the island and think about what it must have been like to land on them knowing full well you were facing the guns of proud, but desperate island defenders.
Once you arrive on the island, you can explore the island on foot with a walking tour or by bicycle, there is even a guided tram tour you can take. You can even arrange a stayover on the island either by camping or staying at the Corregidor Inn. There is also the outdoor movie you can attend or if you wish, or just take a nice relaxing swim in the warm waters of Manila Bay. For students and older children there is even an education tour that will teach them about the battles for Corregidor and the islands history as well as a painting workshop and yoga classes that anyone can enjoy.
So, if you are going to be in the Manila area, then by all means take a tour of Corregidor Island and have a great day visiting where once brave men and women faced the unstoppable onslaught of the Japanese Imperial Army, and as always -