Manila Hotel's "Experience Corregidor"
By Earl D.C. Bracamonte
Travel back in time and remember the unsung heroes of war with Experience Corregidor, a special room package inclusive of a Corregidor day tour and other exclusive privileges at Manila Hotel. This unique, relaxing and educational getaway package, which includes a guided tour of the island of Corregidor via Sun Cruises’ MV Spirit of Manila vessel, will take you to the island with ferry transfers and guided tours aboard tram buses. Marvel at the untouched beauty of the island that forms one of the four harbor defenses of Manila Bay and reconnect with the past as you listen to stories of bravery and heroism.
The tour takes you to the different sites including Pacific War, Japanese, and Filipino Heroes memorials where you can pay respects to the unknown soldiers who fought during the defense of Bataan. Guests will also be treated to an informative show that will highlight the dioramas of the key events during WWII inside Malinta Tunnel that also served as a base for the headquarters of Gen. MacArthur during the war as well as residence of then Pres. Manuel Luis Quezon.
Corregidor is an island right at the entrance of Manila Bay. Because of its strategic location, it served as a focal point for the naval defenses of the capital city, Manila. The island is about 48 kilometers west of Manila and is part of Sangley Point and the province of Cavite some 8 miles away (even if it is closer to Mariveles, Bataan by 3miles).
The island is shaped like a tadpole, with its tail running eastward, and has a land area of 9 square kilometers. Along with Caballo Island (which lies 2 kms south of the tail’s tip), it partially blocks the mouth of Manila Bay, and thus its strategic importance.
Because of its rocky landscape and the fortifications of Fort Mills (the assignation given to the island), Corregidor is also known as ‘The Rock,’ it being built as an impregnable fortress. Its land area is 6 kms long and about 2.4 kms at its widest point. Its bulbous head, which points towards the South China Sea, rises prominently to a large flat area called the Topside (The highest elevation at 600 meters above sea level) where the lighthouses, museum and war memorials are located.
This was the nerve center of the island during WWII and this is where the headquarters, barracks for enlisted personnel, officers’ quarters, the traditional parade grounds (where the paratroopers landed to save Corregidor), underground ordnance shops and the bulk of the batteries that constituted the military strength of Corregidor are located.
Being known as ‘The Rock,’ Corregidor boasts of unique rocks called “bloodstones.” These rocks have been aptly called because they are white in color with nice splatters of red. Rock balancing is an ephemeral art which has recently been introduced in the island. This is a nature activity which aims to boost eco-tourism and build awareness on Nature conservation. Rock balancing is often linked to photography and landscape art.
A small plateau that interrupts the upward slope from Bottomside (the lowest elevation at 50 meters above sea level) to Topside is the Middleside and was the location of barracks for the enlisted men, a hospital, quarters for non-commissioned officers ((including separate quarters for Filipino infantry volunteers), a service club, and two schoolhouses.
The Bottomside is the lower part of the island and is the neck that connects the head and the tail. It is also where the Malinta Tunnel can be found on its eastern side. The said tunnel, that was the last stronghold of the joint Philippine-American military forces, is now home to a light-and-sound presentation by National Artist Lamberto Avellana, depicting the events that took place on the island during WWII.
There were 23 batteries installed in Corregidor, consisting of 56 coastal guns and mortars. In addition, Corregidor had 13 anti-aircraft artillery batteries, 76 guns (comprised of 28 3-inch and 48 50-caliber) and ten 60-inch Sperry searchlights. The longest range coastal pieces were the two 12-inch (305 mm) guns of Batteries Hearn and Smith.
“Corregidor or Fort Mills was a premier US military base back in the day. It was the second most bombed site during WWII, next to Malta that was severely bombed by the Germans. It was abandoned after the war and cleared only in 1988. In 1953, then Pres. Elpidio Quirino named the island as a War Memorial Shrine,” informed guide Carlos Reyes, during a brief stopover at the ruins of the Middleside Barracks, two 3-storey buildings that served as living quarters for both American and Filipino soldiers.
From public figures to presidents, from royalty to rock stars, the Manila Hotel has been a home-away-from-home to some of the most prominent people in history. Since opening doors in 1912, the Manila Hotel, a.k.a. The Grand Dame, has been known as the ‘Address of Prestige’ to the most distinguished and discriminating guests such as Gen. Douglas MacArthur, Pres. Dwight Eisenhower, Emperor Akihito of Japan, His Royal Highness Prince Charles, 2-time Oscar winner Marlon Brando (On The Waterfront, The Godfather), and world-renowned literary writer Ernest Hemingway just to name a few.
Already dubbed as the national landmark at the heart of Manila, no other hotel can boast to being such significant witness to Philippine history.
Even at the turn of the 21st century, the Manila Hotel’s story and tradition of unparalleled service goes on, married with genuine Filipino hospitality. It continues to stand proud, meeting the challenges of today’s discriminating guests and showcasing only the best that the Philippines has to offer.
After a day of remembrance at the island, you can visit the MacArthur Suite and explore the stately room that once was the home of the revered general. It had been the temporary abode of Gen. Douglas MacArthur during his tenure as Military Advisor to the Commonwealth of the Philippines from 1935 until 1941. When World War II broke out, the general and his family evacuated to Corregidor together with Pres. Quezon’s family. On Dec. 27, 1941, Manila was declared an Open City and the Japanese forces immediately took over Manila Hotel and converted it into military headquarters for use of the highest-ranking army and naval officers.
Also, each room at the Manila Hotel is lavishly prepared to give guests a relaxing haven furnished with world-class amenities. Sports buffs can rejuvenate at the Health Club and enjoy the calm of the Pool & Garden Area while staying connected and up-to-date with complimentary Wi-Fi connection. Room packages include a buffet breakfast as well as welcome fruits and drinks. The Experience Corregidor package is available until the end of September.
The Manila Hotel is located by the picturesque Manila Bay strip. With a legacy of service spanning close to a century, it is the only hotel in the country that perfectly mirrors the best of Filipino culture, history, and hospitality. This makes Manila Hotel not just a hotel but a national landmark that is genuinely and truly Filipino. Moreover, it has 500 rooms and suites, together with function rooms that can accommodate up to 2,500 guests. Its line-up of restaurants offers Chinese, French, Continental, Western, Japanese, and native cuisines. It also has pool facilities, a newly-opened spa & health club that are equipped with state-of-the-art fixtures and furnishings.
The Grand Dame awaits everyone to bear witness as history unfolds at the Manila Hotel. For inquiries and reservations, simply call 527-0011 extension 1100.