Saturday, March 10, 2012

Corregidor Tour

For wartime history, and American era fortifications, this island is a must-tour for both the Filipino and the foreign visitor. It played a significant role in the liberation of this country from Japanese occupation. So, worth the visit, if only for a closer look at the realities of yesteryears. Yes, even also worth a visit あなたは日本国民であっても。

There are many available references about this island and how it has been used since the 1500s where it fared historical prominence in various attempts to seize control of the country by Spanish, Dutch, British, American and Japanese colonizers. But most historic was yes, the final Japanese-American war of 1945. Everything about these are however better heard as you tour around the island – and this place has one of the best tour guides the country has ever produced! Anyway…

How to go there?
There is only one “real” operator that does this tour, Sun Cruises. I mean they are the company that owns the fastcraft and the Corregidor Inn, but as it is in the industry, many tour agencies also sell the same tour service - for and in their behalf. Prices do not really matter much though, since the resellers get discounts from Sun Cruises. But I prefer dealing with the primary service provider hehe, so its Sun Cruises.
Leaves very early. Check-in is 7AM at the CCP Bay Terminal, boarding is 730AM where you will still be ferried by bus to where the craft is docked near Via Mare restaurant, behind the Folk Arts Theater, just after the Jumbo Palace Casino. Departure is 8AM. It’s a fastcraft, and nice clean interiors too. But for just about 45 kilometers of travel, I do wonder why it takes an hour and a half (arrival is 930AM) when the Cebu-Tagbilaran fast craft travels a distance almost twice as far, but in just about the same length of time! Anyway, as if we have any other choice, right?! But…

How is it?
Well, fantastic! It’s a different kind of tour, even the only one in the country, I think, that deals with detailed wartime histories. Hey, you travel via a tranvia-style bus where the tour guide immediately starts his annotations once everyone is settled! Oh I won’t spoil your excitement about what to see and hear during the tour. One thing I can tell you though, if you listen well, goose bumps will surely pop all over your body at some of the detailed histories being described – especially at the Light & Sound Show inside the Malinta Tunnel! Don't fret, claustrophobics, its a big tunnel probably even bigger than any flyover around. Unless you go into the little chambers where, duuu!

Some pointers…

Once you disembark from the fast craft, its anybody’s choice on which tranvia to ride for the tour. You’ll see on the windshield which language the guide will be speaking in. Sorry walang Tagalog hehe! If its English you like, go for Mang Ramon (if he is still around anyway). He’s that white-haired old man in the pictures. Very nice loud husky voice and a war-time hero himself.
If you want the Japanese-speaking guide, ride the tranvia accordingly marked. Now if you are a “bi” or a “mixed”, choose wherever you feel comfortable. Just note that some tourists – especially older ones (those who experienced the war) could get carried away and start venting their emotions on you if you are, or look like a Jap. Believe me, this is a serious matter! Good thing there are now many Korean tourists who ride the English buses, so Japs are not anymore easily recognizable or singled out.

Note too that the stories on those “English” and “Japanese” buses are not necessarily literally the same in terms of interpretation, though the histories are still correct in terms of facts, figures and chronology. Mind you, the older Japanese-speaking guides were even trained in Japan. Their annotations usually dwell on heroism, valor and loyalty of the Japanese Army to the country and leaders AT THAT TIME & CIRCUMSTANCES. Which is politically correct anyway, right? Syempre hindi ipagdidiinan na ganito-ganyan kasama ang mga ninuno nila! Ikaw talaga, what for, alam na nila yun!

Just an advise to would-be tourists from wherever you are kasama na ang mga Pinoy… its okay to cry, it was such a terrible time in history really. But please don’t attack your fellow tourists - verbally or physically. Don’t get carried away by your emotions or that of the tour guide - who was in fact in that war and he knows how it was to cling to dear life. Remind yourself that that war is many years long over. Its behind us now and we have learned our lessons. Huwag kang mag-huramentado during the tour! Please?

More notes...

The lunch buffet is but good enough. That and the tranvia ride is included in the tour package that you paid for. Just check upon booking if they still have a “day tour only” – meaning without the lunch as I heard they’re going to stop offering that.

The island has no residential community, much less stores of any kind, except that at Corregidor Inn selling souvenirs and a few snacks. But you’ll only get to it after the tour anyway. So bring a bottle or two of water and anything to munch if you are that kind whose mouth cant be shut for long periods hehe.

There are rentable bikes, if you wanna go around on your own, do it immediately once the tranvia tour is over. It’ll probably be even too short a time already because...

The boat returns after lunch. They say there are special trips you can arrange to depart later in the day but the sea becomes rough late in the afternoon until evening. So ride the boat as per published schedule! Otherwise, you can stay overnight at Corregidor Inn. There is also a hostel (dormitory type accommodation).

The rest of the island is breezy nice during summers - and for its proximity to the metropolis is surprisingly devoid of the tourist battalions! Watch out for the sunset and rise early to catch sunrise. You will never regret it.

A friend told me there are adventure trails though usually used/good for team-building events only, and that he had fun shooting many birds and bats in the wild. Another friend tells me they had their pre-nuptial shoot all over the island! Hmm, amidst the cannons and mortars?! Geez!

I can say the beach is so-so, but fishing would probably be fun!

Enjoy history!
Re-posted to front page for some friends.
This was originally posted 6 years ago!


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