Brewed Thoughts: Face to face with "The Rock"

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Face to face with "The Rock"

Thanks to a voucher discount, I was able to go to Corregidor with a couple of friends a few weeks ago. Needless to say, in all my wishlist of places to go to, this little island was probably not in the top list. I was just expecting the usual artifacts as seen in pictures, but I was totally not prepared with what I saw and experienced.

It was like being swept off your feet for the very first time. Pardon the cheesy line and the gag-inducing sappiness, but this was my immediate impression when the Sun Cruises ferry boat docked in the island's small port. It was just past 9AM when we got there and ironically, the sun wasn't that scorching. The wind was cool and refreshing; I think the pleasant weather got us all in an excited mood.

For most of us who still remember bits and pieces of history during the second World War, Corregidor was the focal point for Manila's naval defense. It's hard to believe that this tiny, tadpole-shaped island was Manila's focal point for naval defense. Yet, you'd see traces of that history as artillery batteries consisting of coastal guns, mortars, bomb shelters and cartridge rooms still stand to this day.

While we roamed around the island in tranvia buses, I was mentally picturing what life was back in the days when the island was a sprawling military fortress. Looking at the ruins of the soldier hostels and barracks gave me goosebumps just imagining what kind of life it was back in the war. The place had all the amenities anyone could ask for---swimming pool, a golf course, cinema---but I'm sure those people must've been paranoid at some point, knowing their lives were easy prey during the war.

Then and now: Military barracks
It likewise boggled the mind how a place that was pretty much washed up by the blood of many seemed so serene and eerie at the same time. The place seemed indifferent to the tourists' noise. I can't begin to describe what it felt like, but perhaps if I wasn't in a tour group, I would've probably just sat there and watched the ruins all day. In some ways I've been humbled and amazed to see it all.

Which brings me to the point of this post: whoever's in charge of the island's tourism ought to tell visitors to exercise some restraint when going around the area, particularly in monuments, ruins and burial places. I dunno if it was just bad luck that we've been saddled with the most rowdy Pinoys where the words "camera whores" were one hell of an understatement.

Bullets once rained on this place.
Pissed off didn't even come close to describe what it felt like being on the same bus with a bunch of jologs tourists who kept on snapping pictures even in pitch black situations in the Malinta Tunnel. Or in the ammunition room where a group of inconsiderate idiots nearly destroyed my ears with their screaming.

To the tourists: Corregidor is a sacred place. People died there. Don't ride on the batteries as if you were riding a godforsaken pony. At least have the decency to reduce horseplay to a minimum and respect other tourists who want to enjoy the trip for what it's worth.

Ten feet high Japanese Buddha statue at the Japanese memorial site.
Sorry about that. Thinking about inconsiderate tourists set my teeth on the edge.

My friends and I are planning to return to Corregidor, this time, for an overnight experience. Though I don't particularly relish ghost hunting, I guess close encounters with the supernatural kind beats the hell out of breathing the same air with idiots.

This wasn't the original Spanish lighthouse, but this was the same spot where it once stood.
And now for some tips:

  • Research. You'll never know if you're going to get saddled with a tour guide who tells fiction rather than facts. Which brings me to another point: don't believe everything your tour guide says. If you're unsure of the information, go back to your books or research elsewhere.

    • To hell with courtesies. If a rowdy bunch of tourists behave like a bunch of Bieber fanatics, tell it straight to their faces to shut their pie holes. Otherwise, you might pop an artery.

      • If you can go for an overnight stay, do it. You'll just be amazed how many interesting sites you'll miss in the day tour.

      • Be considerate of other tourists. We of all people should practice proper decorum not because there are foreign tourists, but to respect for those who died there. 

      They used to watch movies here.


        1. I understand how you feel about Corregidor mare. This place is a memorial, a place we should be giving our respects to. Imagine na lang natin na isa siyang buong isla ng sementeryo.

          Indeed, we need a day or two to explore the place by foot or by bicycle. I don't know if I have the guts to go inside the Japanese cave.

          May I react about the tourists you encountered? Naloka lang ako ha. Thank goodness wala akong na-encounter na ganyan nung time namin. Hindi ba sila sinita ng mga guides? (Oh, I remember, we didn't have time to take much photos. Na-late kasi yung ferry ng Sun cruises lol. We were an hour delayed sa tour! :-S)

        2. Nakakaloka talaga, mare. Ang iingay tapos walang pakundangan mag-take ng photos akala mo ngayon lang nakahawak ng camera. I am personally offended how they swarm over memorials na para bang nasa amusement park sila tapos yung behavior nila wala talagang paggalang. Dapat talaga naninita yung mga tour guides, pero hindi eh. Sana man lang before the start of the tour may reminder to the tourists to pay proper respect to the place kasi gaya nga ng sinabi mo, para talagang sementeryo yung lugar. Ang nakakainis, mga Pinoy pa ito mismo.

          Oi nakapunta ka dun sa beach diba? Sa day tour yun diba? Buti pa kayo. We missed out on a lot of places kasi ang weird nung matandang tour guide namin. We were only given a few minutes to explore each area. Ni hindi nga ako nakakuha ng pic ng Eternal Flame. Nung tinanong ko kung idadaan ba kami ng tour guide dun, sabi ba naman nya na hindi daw nya diskarte yung rutang yun.

          Da hell?!

          Hay naku, kaya nga babalik kami for an overnight stay. Minalas talaga kami sa first visit pa man din.

        3. In some instances I prefer not to have a tour guide (unless it's Carlos Celdran haha). Tama ka nga, sometimes you don't know if those guys have really researched their stuff.

          On your fellow tourists... Hay. Madaming ganyan talaga, lalo na yung mga group ng bata. Well, kahit matanda minsan meron. Ewan ko ba.

        4. Matatanda ito, mare. Kaya mas lalong nakakainis.

        5. I LOL-ed at your descriptions of the rowdy tourists hehehe! But kidding aside, nakakahiya naman sila. Sana sinabihan mo. :P

        6. Yun din yung mali ko---dapat talaga pinagsabihan ko rin. Ang ginawa ko lang kasi eh malakas ako nagpaparinig. Eh mukhang matitigas ang pez..

        7. ganda ng camera mo, what are you using?

          btw, nawala yata ako sa blogroll mo ha.. ok lang :P

        8. Ay sorry naman mare. Nagpalit kasi ako ng layout kaya nawala yung widgets ko.

          Yung cam is a Nikon D3000. :)