Old Manila Walks: of Bombs, Big Guns & Lost Gold! in Corregidor

As the cocking sounds of rifles begins to reverberate into the open air of the grassy Kindley Airfield, Jibin Arula only has a matter of few seconds to save his life. Not enough time to even warn his fellow Muslims about their impending fate. As the machine gun starts pumping bullets towards their direction. The group of 60 young men ordered to line up sees horror and before anyone could move, bodies starts falling amidst the cries of pain and shock. Jibin Arula maneuvers his body, twisting in the air, crashing a hundred meters down, scratching his free falling body into the sharp edges of the cliff, hurling towards the water and leaving his life into the hands of Allah. That was the day of March 18, 1968 - of what would be known as the "Jabidah Massacre".

Corregidor Poster (SC)
An otherwise mostly unknown history of the rock island of Corregidor. A tragic event which bore lasting impact on our country. It is believed that the massacre snowballed towards the birth of the Moro National Liberation Front. The almost 60 young Muslims killed that day were recruited to become part of a then top secret "Operation Merdeka" - a sinister plan hatched by the Marcos regime in an attempt to take back the Malaysian state of Sabah which is being claimed by the Philippines as part of its archipelago.
I've known about this fact during my first visit to Corregidor in 2009, this time I experienced my third incursion to this island in a different way. As part of the newly introduced tour of Old Manila Walks, we walked over trails that are not previously part of any tour in the island of Corregidor. The tour is led by  Manila Walks founder Ivan Man Dy, a known authority in the history of Manila, particularly of Binondo.

The walking trail starts from the Old Spanish Lighthouse going to the Warship Flagpole and flanking towards the old Senior Officer's Barracks and the nearby landmarks consisting of the Cine Corregidor and the Mile Long barracks. From there, the walking tour proceeded to the forested part at the back of Mile Long Barracks, but which according to Ivan, was actually the front side of the barracks and he showed us the old trails of the main road. 

A few minutes of brisk walking took us to Battery Way , the location of one of the main defense guns of Corregidor during WWII. It consists of four 12 inch mortar guns which were designed to hoist high arching shells into a long distance capable of hitting enemy warships in Manila Bay. From there we walked further and entered a grassy section to the backside of the Hospital ruins, where Ivan Man Dy led us to a spot upstairs where the Merdeka recruits resided during their ill-fated training. Afterward the walking tour capped it off by continuing to the Pacific War Memorial Museum and the Eternal Flame Monument. Along the way, tour participants learned many things from the depth historical knowledge of Ivan Man Dy. 

Here are some useful information about the Old Manila Walks' "of Bombs, Big Guns and Lost Gold!" tour package. I recommend this tour for both first-timers and repeat visitors of Corregidor, because the history of the island is so interesting you will have to experience and hear it again in a different way.

1..What is this tour and how is this different from the regular Sun Cruises bus tour? 

             'Of Bombs, Big Guns and Lost Gold: WWII Tales Declassified ' is  the 6th installment in the Old Manila Walks historical tour series. This is a collaboration between Corregidor's main logistical and tour provider, Sun Cruises and Old Manila Walks- the city's leading historical/cultural tour outfit. Unlike the bus tour which takes you on a general overview of the whole island, this historical hike is essentially concentrated on the war memorial zone (aka the historic core) of the island and uses this setting as a backdrop in the discussion of the WWII theme of the walk. This tour provides for a broader,more chronological, contextual, insightful and perhaps even critical understanding of WWII in the country through the use of creative visuals backed by a multi-discilpinary approach to historical interpretation (e.g. combining millitary as well as social,cultural and architectural history). It's an exercise for both the body and for the mind. ;op

              For the visitor to Corregidor, this tour also provides for more personal flexibility (tour ends at 12:30 PM and boat leaves at 2:30 PM) to explore more of the island attractions and its various 'after-walk activities' that can be done at leisure (see below).

    2. How much is the tour?

         P1,750.00/head and is inclusive of the following: Guided tour, Ferry Transfers and Island Entrance Fee. Buffet Lunch at Corregidor inn is OPTIONAL(not inclusive) and maybe availed prior at P450.00/head. Plated lunch options available too.

    3.  Is the Malinta Tunnel Walk included in walking tour package?

          No, it is not. The Malinta Tunnel Walk (P150.00/head) is an 'after-walk' optional activity offered by Sun Cruises that you can avail immediately after lunch. It also includes zip-lining , kayaking, ATV-riding and swimming (rate's vary). These maybe booked prior or on the spot. It is recommended that the Malinta Tunnel Walk be booked prior due to guide availability.

    4. When will tour be offered?

          We're looking at February 2013 with initial runs every weekends (Sundays), please email fun@oldmanilawalks.com for details.