Of Tunnels, Destruction & a Freedom Flame

Corregidor Travel Blog

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Malinta Tunnel entrance
I had this ever so fabulous ambition of getting up at 5.30am to join the morning trek. You got some nerve, Skeletor! I could barely open my eyes at 8.30am for the Malinta Tunnel tour, let alone check out the sunrise.

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.
Lateral tunnel
The east-west tunnel was the main passage measuring 836ft long, 24ft. wide, and 15ft. tall and had 13 laterals tunnels on the north and another 11 on the south which were about 160ft. long each. There's another wing of 12 laterals that fan out from the south lateral which were mostly secret storage areas, and where only a few had access to. Those who did know about its exisistence supposedly had to be blindfolded on the way to the area so as to keep things confidential. In December 1941, the Malinta Tunnel became the seat of the Commonwealth Government, housing the USAFFE (United States Armed Forces of the Far East) headquarters of Gen. Douglas MacArthur in a northern lateral. Two laterals down was designated as the quarters of Pres.
Overhead getaway
Manuel L. Quezon
. The lateral between the two branched out into the 1,000-bed hospital wing with 6 laterals on either side. It was around this area where the Japanese are said to have blown themselves up instead of surrendering to the Allied Forces during the recapture of Corregidor in 1945. On the west end of the tunnel was where both Pres. Quezon and VP Osmena were inagurated for their second terms in office.

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.
Tunnel diorama
Food and water were rationed twice a day in dismal amounts and there was only one bath and toilet area which everyone shared.

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.
Them bones
At some point, Carlos pointed out bones that were lying on a pile of rubble. I couldn't believe how some guy who was only in his middle age actually had the impudence to pick up one of the bones for further scrutiny! If that wasn't brazen enough, he repositioned it several times on the ground just to get the right angle for a photo. The bastard. I really wonder about people like him who visit places like Corregidor and show no respect for those who have so brutally lost their lives for the sake of their fellowmen. Corregidor isn't a spectacle for anyone's amusement; if that was what he was after, should've just gone to see a freaking circus.

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.
Cine Corregidor
It was supposed to be free and easy but since we missed out on the museum the day before due to the electrical loss, Carlos used up this time to take us there. I was happy that it wasn't raining this time so I was able to take a few, though unremarkable, shots of the Middleside Barracks. Oh well, at least I have something for posterity.

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.
Cine Corregidor
I love how the stairs led to an 8ft drop back to the ground and how one wall was securely leaning on part of its ruin. The arched entryway towards the viewing area added to the drama as well. Pure love.

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.
Dogtags
Quezon, Gen MacArthur and their entourage had in 1941, guns, army boots, military uniforms, statues, the Corregidor flag and other war mementoes. But out of everything that I saw, none had gripped me more than the dogtags that were on display in the adjoining room near the entrance. Seeing the identities of the faceless heroes gave me a profound hold on reality, in that those soldiers were no longer annonymous figures in battle but the very men who gave us the liberty we enjoy today.

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.
The Juicer!
The sculpture symbolizes everlasting freedom and pays homage to the Filipinos' and Americans' sacrifices and struggles for the preservation of the freedom they had fought for.

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.
The Eternal Flame
So they were even more disappointed when Carlos came up to our table to tell us about the change in plans - we were all to leave in about an hour's time due to the rains. What?! We couldn't believe our short weekend trip was going to get cut even shorter! Oh well, at least I got to see the dioramas where the show's held since I attended the tour with Felipe. Let me just mention that except for the statues, all the 'decor' there are actually the original stuff they had found on-site. So, ok, we were to leave just 2 hours earlier, but it was still a bummer. The coast guard had called the hotel to say that the ferries would not be able to travel after 1pm as the waters would be really rough by then. So it was either we leave at 1pm or get stranded on the island.

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.
The Parade Grounds


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.




lagkat says:
These articles are great, Belle! So detailed with both historical info and personal kwento, just the way I like 'em. :-) When (if?) I finally post my pictures, I'll just link to you, okay? If I had to write about it, I'll procrastinate even more. ;-)
Posted on: Aug 27, 2008
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Malinta Tunnel entrance
Malinta Tunnel entrance
Lateral tunnel
Lateral tunnel
Overhead getaway
Overhead getaway
Tunnel diorama
Tunnel diorama
Them bones
Them bones
Cine Corregidor
Cine Corregidor
Cine Corregidor
Cine Corregidor
Dogtags
Dogtags
The Juicer!
The Juicer!
The Eternal Flame
The Eternal Flame
The Parade Grounds
The Parade Grounds
Signage
Signage
Tunnel
Tunnel
Tunnel artillery
Tunnel artillery
Cave caving in
Cave caving in
Lateral tunnel
Lateral tunnel
Tunnel walls
Tunnel walls
Lateral tunnel
Lateral tunnel
More tunnels
More tunnels
More tunnels
More tunnels
This was the toilet area that serv…
This was the toilet area that ser…
Over here, troop!
Over here, troop!
Tunnel shoot
Tunnel shoot
Lookie
Lookie
Hospital Lateral
Hospital Lateral
Tunnel diorama
Tunnel diorama
Tunnel scenes
Tunnel scenes
Original war-time typewriter
Original war-time typewriter
Tunnel diorama
Tunnel diorama
Tunnel diorama
Tunnel diorama
Tunnel diorama
Tunnel diorama
Tunnel diorama
Tunnel diorama
Tunnel diorama
Tunnel diorama
Tunnel diorama
Tunnel diorama
Tunnel diorama
Tunnel diorama
Generals HQ
General's HQ
Lateral tunnel
Lateral tunnel
Lateral tunnel
Lateral tunnel
Malinta Tunnel map
Malinta Tunnel map
Middleside Barracks
Middleside Barracks
Middleside Barracks
Middleside Barracks
Middleside Barracks
Middleside Barracks
Cine Corregidor
Cine Corregidor
Cine Corregidor
Cine Corregidor
Shall it be Gone with the Wind …
"Shall it be 'Gone with the Wind'…
Cine Corregidor
Cine Corregidor
View from Cine Corregidor
View from Cine Corregidor
Cine Corregidor
Cine Corregidor
Cine Corregidor
Cine Corregidor
View from Cine Corregidor
View from Cine Corregidor
View from Cine Corregidor
View from Cine Corregidor
Cine Corregidor
Cine Corregidor
Cine Corregidor
Cine Corregidor
Cine Corregidor
Cine Corregidor
Pacific War Memorial
Pacific War Memorial
Pacific War Memorial
Pacific War Memorial
Pacific War Memorial
Pacific War Memorial
Corregidor flag
Corregidor flag
Read!
Read!
Corregidor Museum
Corregidor Museum
Pacific War Memorial
Pacific War Memorial
Pacific War Memorial
Pacific War Memorial
Pacific War Memorial
Pacific War Memorial
The Eternal Flame
The Eternal Flame
The Eternal Flame
The Eternal Flame
The Eternal Flame
The Eternal Flame
The Eternal Flame
The Eternal Flame
The Eternal Flame
The Eternal Flame
Pacific War Memorial
Pacific War Memorial
Pacific War Memorial
Pacific War Memorial
Tree
Tree
Eternal Flame from the Pacific War…
Eternal Flame from the Pacific Wa…
AMCMXVID
AMCMXVID
Officers Housing
Officers' Housing
Plaque
Plaque
Plaque
Plaque
Mile Long Barracks to the west
Mile Long Barracks to the west
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Corregidor
photo by: blurbmoi