Corregidor Island, or referred to by the U.S. Army as Fort Mills, is the largest island at the mouth of Manila Bay in the southwestern part of Luzon. Corregidor has been described as the last fortress to fall during the Japanese occupation in 1942. It was at this site that American and Filipino forces joined together under the command of General Douglas MacArthur to fight against Japanese troops but the fall of neighboring island, Bataan, on April 9, 1942 ended with MacArthur retreating to Australia and the U.S. army surrendering to the Japanese under the command of General Jonathan Wainwright.
The most poignant experience for me was to visit this sight with an older generation of Filipinos (my parents, my uncles Pepe and Angel, and my three ate's Laurita, Carmen, and Lita) who were old enough to witness and experience the Japanese occupation of the Philippine islands during WWII. We took the trolley throughout the island and listened to our tour guide describe how the island was used first during Spanish colonization in 1570, then during the Spanish-American war and U.S. colonization in 1880, then with the Japanese colonization in 1942, and finally, with the combined forces of the American and Filipino armies the island was liberated from the Japanese in February of 1945. It was in 1946 that the island was declared part of the Republic of the Philippines. My parents and Uncle Pepe talked about the atrocities of war and the Japanese infiltration of the other islands, the incessant bombing, as well as oppression under Japanese military rule. They also talked about the brutality of Filipinos at the hands of the Japanese soldiers as well as Korean soldiers . The latter group apparently was even more brutal toward Filipino citizens especially since Korea was also under Japanese rule and its male citizens were conscripted and forced to fight for the Japanese army.
Waiting for our tour boat (seated from the left: Ate Carmen, Uncle Pepe, mom Dolores, dad Hernan, Uncle Angel, and Ate Lita)
View of Bataan Island from Corregidor, site of the infamous Bataan Death March, where 76,000 American and Filipino prisoners marched from Corregidor to Bataan. Roughly 5,000-10,000 Filipino soldiers perished and 600-650 American soldiers perished during this march. My parents talked about the determination of Filipino soldiers to aid American soldiers as they tried to liberate the army. Many Filipinos are fond of General Douglas MacArthur and they still remember his famous phrase, "I shall return," when he was forced to retreat to Australia. Indeed, he returned in 1945 with a daring plan to liberate Corregidor from the Japanese.
An American and Filipino soldier arm in arm, a symbol of brotherhood during the Japanese occupation.
Monica standing in front of the "Bachelor Quarters," appropriately enough.
According to our tour guide, the "Married Soldiers' Quarters" had fireplaces to emulate home. Interesting since the weather was tropical hot and humid.
Standing in front of a map at the museum entrance
For history fans, a cool, wall-sized map of all of the battles in the Pacific starting with the bombing of Pearl Harbor and leading up to the battle in Corregidor
The Peace Monument
Lots of caves and tunnels on the island
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