Corregidor has always fascinated me. This small island fortress at the gate of Manila Bay was once dubbed as one of the most formidable outposts of American power right before World War 2. It was also the site of a fierce Fil-American resistance, some of the bloodiest battles of the War, and a futile and tragic effort by the Japanese to keep the Allied juggernaut at bay. For a history junkie like me, being in Corregidor was like being a kid let loose in Willy Wonka’s wonderland.
And is there a better way to feeling like a kid again than riding on a bike? Last May 4th, I and a group of friends got to travel around Corregidor island on bikes. It was one of the best bike trips I’d ever done. I had been to Corregidor once before, but travelling around the island leisurely on a bike is definitely much better.
Corregidor lies 48 kilometers from Manila. Unless you have your own yacht, the only way to get there is to take the Sun Cruises ferry which docks at the CCP and holds daily trips to and from the island. You can check out their website and reserve tickets.
The ferry leaves at 8am, but you need to check in at around 7am so they can load your bikes properly. The bikes are put in front of the ferry, and are covered with a tarp to protect them from the elements.The trip from the CCP to Corregidor is a treat in itself. You get a different perspective of Manila as its skyline recedes in the distance. The water gradually changes color from a dirty dull gray to dark blue. When you dock at Corregidor port about an hour later, the sea’s color has completely transformed into proper aquamarine that seems clean and clear enough to swim in. It’s almost hard to believe this amazing island is just an hour away from the grimy and soot-choked streets of Manila.
Our guide Brian met us at the port on his motorcycle. You can arrange for a guide through Sun Cruises if it’s your first time in Corregidor. I’d also recommend getting a guide so that someone can tell you the story of each site you’d visit. If you want good photos of you and your buddies, then you definitely need to get a guide. Brian, apparently had some training in photography as he knew how to frame a shot. He spared us the enormous hassle of having to dismount and set up a tripod to get action photos of us riding our bikes with the historic ruins in the background.
Trip down History Lane
Our first stop was the Malinta Tunnel. You have to hand it to the American engineers who built this thing. They hollowed it out of solid rock and turned the insides of this hill into an impregnable fortress within an already impregnable fortress. The Tunnel was closed when we went there because of the audio visual presentations being held for the tour groups. But supposedly, you can pass through it if it’s free of other tourists.
Next stop was the statue of Gen. Douglas Mc Arthur. We just had to do the obligatory photo beside the guy. After al, this was the dude who uttered the famous words: I’ll be back!… Or words to that effect.
Our next stop was the Filipino Heroes War memorial. We rode through a scenic road with the sea in the background. We saw some of the hillside tunnels where soldiers hid during the war. It was a beautiful road that ended all too soon.
And then we hit The Wall–a road section so steep, it seemed to have been plucked straight out of the infamous path going to Timberland, San Mateo.
Thankfully, it was just a short section, and before we knew it, we were already in the Filipino Heroes’ War Memorial.
This is a relatively new shrine in Corregidor. It honors Filipino heroes who fell in battle against foreign invaders from the time of Lapu-lapu, to the more recent heroes of the Edsa uprising.
A grimmer kind of memorial was just a few minutes away by bike–the shrine honoring the victims of the Jabidah massacre. Now called the Mindanao Garden of Peace, the site honors the Tausug and Sama military recruits who were killed by the government after they mutinied against the plan to deploy them in Sabah. It was a very messy business which sparked a decades-long war in Mindanao.
Right next to the Mindanao shrine is the island’s airfield. Pavement and grassy field. We just had to bike across it.
Last stop before lunch was the Japanese Memorial Garden where a giant statue of the Buddha stood. It serves as a shrine to the Japanese soldiers who died during the war. The statue of the Buddha supposedly also grants fertility to couples trying to conceive. If dancing in Obando isn’t working out for you, this may be something to try out.
If you’re not staying overnight, I suggest you opt for the lunch buffet to save time. The buffet is also pretty good, and allows you to stuff your stomach with as much fuel as you need for the next hour and a half’s worth of riding.
When you get to Corregidor Inn, refill your water bottles and hydration packs because the weather will get even hotter in the afternoon. Bikers with a sensitive tummy probably need to bring their own water. But the water did not cause any issue with any member of our group.
After lunch it was time to head to the ruins and the big guns. If you’ve never seen one up close, it’s almost hard to believe that there are actually cannons as big as these. You definitely don’t want to be on the receiving end of these war machines.
While biking across the ruins of the barracks, you can’t help but imagine what this place was like in its heyday. Corregidor had its own hospital, its own school, and even its own cinema.
Finally we biked to the Pacific War Memorial, and then the Lighthouse which has been in service since the time of the Spaniards.
We would have wanted to bike some more, but our ferry was leaving by 2:30, and we were not exactly prepared to be stranded on the island.
If you want to really explore Corregidor on a bike, it’s probably best to stay overnight. You can stay at the Corregidor Inn, or you can pitch a tent in the campground for a minimal fee. Despite the ride being bitin, it was still quite an experience. I definitely wouldn’t mind coming back for another bike ride and overnight camping on this historic island. Maybe next time I’ll catch some of Corregidor’s infamous ghosts on a night ride.
For more tips, useful information and rates, check out Travel Up’s Guide to Biking in Corregidor.
Budget: P1,450-1,550/pax (w/o lunch)
Corregidor Ferry Transfer
Weekday: Php 1,250 per person plus Php 100 fuel surcharge
Weekend: Php 1,350 per person plus Php 100 fuel surcharge
Daily Ferry Schedules are as follows:
Check-in at CCP Bay Terminal: 7:00 am
ETA Corregidor: 9:15 am
ETD Corregidor: 2:30 pm
ETA Manila: 3:45 pm