Of Tunnels, Destruction & a Freedom Flame
Corregidor Travel Blog› entry 2 of 2 › view all entries
July 27th, 2008 – by: Isabetlog
The Malinta Tunnel derives its name from the fact that the place was infested with leeches, or linta. Constructed by the Americans in 1922 over a ten year period, it originally served as a military bombproof shelter for the storage of ammo, food and other supplies. It was built by driving a shaft through the solid rocks of Malinta Hills, a 400ft. elevation at the eastern part of the Bottomside where the head of the island meets the tail.
The tunnel's interiors were reinforced with concrete for the most part, fitted with blowers for ventilation and a double-tracked electric tram for transport of materials, but they were not intended for poeple to live in. During the Battle of Corregidor, an estimated 4,000 people were housed inside this dusty, damp, claustrophobic, and bug infested shelter.
To say that the living conditions in the passages were horrific would be a gross understatement. The renmants of the atrocities were still evident here and there, and the ghosts of the war were lurking everywhere. And to further demonstrate just how hellish it was, we were all asked to switch off the flashlights that were provided upon our entry. There was not a pinhole of light but complete unexaggerated darkness. As some were freaking out, I held my hand right in front of my face; it may as well have been behind my back. There was nothing to see but pure blackness. We were then asked to walk forward a few steps, it was just maddening.
We were asked to turn the flashlights back on and everyone gave a collective sigh of relief followed by pleas for conituous illumination.
As half the group, including Kat and Mila, opted to sleep in and check out the Malinta Tunnel in the afternoon for the Light & Sound show, we went straight back to the hotel to pick them up for the remainder of the morning tour.
Back at the Topside, my friends and I decided to hang out by the Cine Corregidor ruins just across from the Mile Long Barracks and indirectly in front of the Parade Grounds. Despite its state, it was a quaint reminder of the glorious days of Corregidor enjoyed prior to the destruction and bloodshed of war. It had a remarkable facade still standing and the concrete ticket booth up front was still intact. The back wall where the screen once was was also still erect, as was another wall on the side.
While the others went to check out other parts of the area, we proceeded to the Corregidor Museum just behind. The power was back on and we could better appreciate its showcase. The first thing that grabs your attention is the huge mosaic of the island at the end of the room which maps out the positions and advances of both the Allied Forces and the Imperial Army. There were photos with descriptions of Corregidor's history and the men that made it, plus everything from Mickey Mouse money, bullets, dinnerware, the Christmas noche buena menu that Pres.
From here we moved on back to the Pacific War Memorial to check out the Eternal Flame of Freedom sculpture that we neglected the day before. It's at the rear of the juicer, elevated at the end of a walkway in the middle of a pond and overlooking Manila Bay, Cavite and Bataan.
Before heading back to the hotel for lunch, we still checked out the Parade Grounds that front the PWM, Cine Corregidor and the Topside Barracks. Nothing much here except for the 503rd PRCT memorial and the sprawling field.
Lunch was already waiting for us by the time we got back to the hotel. Although the food was nothing earthshaking, I was surprised to find out that they were serving exaactly the same stuff as the previous day's menu! Again, it wasn't the best but totally edible. I just wished they offered something different. Kat and Mila were excited for the Light & Sound show at the Malinta Tunnel after lunch, especially since they skipped the morning tour.
And with that, we packed up, checked out, and dragged out asses back on the tram where it would lead us back to the ferry bound for Manila.
It was an intensely enlightening trip and I'm glad that I finally went. I hope others take away as much from their visit to this island as I did. It would be quite trifling and pitiful if Corregidor were to be perceived as just another island getaway.
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