This is the first draft of my travel writing and photography project for our Filipinas Heritage Library class by Jay Alonzo and Kristine Fonacier. I plan to develop this into a full article so any feedback or critique would be very helpful. Thanks and hopefully this gets me back on the blogging grove after that refreshing weekend.
by Anton Diaz, Our Awesome Planet
I realized that I never really knew Corregidor until my recent visit. I was acquainted with it in my past 2 visits but it never really became meaningful for me. It would take an actual interaction with history either through the actual letters and photos of the war or through actual stories of the surviving veterans of world war II, for one to feel the passion and glory of Corregidor. It was a privilege to hear the second hand stories of the world war 2 veterans from Pablito Martinez, a veteran Corregidor tour guide for 19 years. Watching the Light and Sound show by national artist Lamberto Avellana would make one feel the heavy bombardment and actual life inside Malinta Tunnel. One should read the Galleon guidebook Corregidor by Alfonso J. Aluit to eavesdrop on the dramatic conversations between Pres. Quezon, General MacArthur, General Wainwright and President Roosevelt leading to the fall of Corregidor on May 6, 1942.
Most of the young generations today don’t even bother to know the rich history of courage and valor of Corregidor. The common excuse is that I don’t like history. Our common definition of Corregidor is that it is an island escape to have fun through team building, company outings or an excursion. For photo enthusiasts, it is a chance to take dramatic photos of the picturesque scenes of the ruins or the silenced guns in the 23 batteries of the Rock. If you take an unofficial poll of our country’s generation Y (born between 1977-1994) and ask them how many have visited corregidor, I’m afraid that it would be a disappointing percentage. No wonder you will see young people taking our freedom for granted by not exercising their right to vote in the National Elections. It is sad that most Filipinos, are neglecting Corregidor which is one of the greatest stories of courage, bravery and freedom in the Asia Pacific during the World War II.
For me, a member of generation X (born between 1963 and 1976), Corregidor took on a different meaning after interacting with history and getting to know it a little deeper more than the occasional tourist. Let me share with you my personal insights on Corregidor in the hope that you start your own journey to discover Corregidor.
A great story of Leadership despite overwhelming odds.
A leader’s greatness is measured on how he is able to handle the tough situations that face him. In an order sent by Pres. Roosevelt to General McArthur to defend the independence of the Philippines, the president said:
“I therefore give you this most difficult mission in full understanding of the desperate situation to which you may shortly be reduced.
“The service that you and the American members of your command can render to your country in the titanic struggle now developing is beyond all possibility of appraisement. I particularly request that you proceed rapidly to the organization of your forces and your defenses so as to make your resistance as effective as circumstances will permit and prolonged as humanly possible.”
How many of us would have rise up to the challenge of putting up a last ditch stand knowing that you will die in the end?
A leader’s action speak louder than words. When General MacArthur was ask to comment on the fall of Corregidor, he said:
” Corregidor needs no comment from me. It has sounded its own story at the mouth of its guns. It has scrolled its own epitaph on enemy tablets. But through the bloody haze of its last reverberating shots, I shall always see a vision of grim, gaunt, ghastly men, still unafraid.”
How many of us, as leaders, would have results and accomplishments that speak for itself?
An Icon of Mental Toughness.
In MacArthur Memoirs, he declares: “Bataan and Corregidor became a universal symbol of resistance against the Japanese and an inspiration to carry on the struggle.” Corregidor is a symbol of resilience in winning the psychological battles in our mind. It is a fight for honor to face our problems head on by confronting it and not by setting it aside.
During the inauguration of the second term of Quezon as President of the Philippine Commonwealth on December 30th, 1941, President Quezon delivered his second inaugural address near the east entrance of the Malinta Tunnel
” … as we face the grim realities of war, let us rededicate ourselves to the great principles of freedom and democracy for which our forefathers fought and died. The present war is being fought for these same principles. It demands from us courage, determination, and unity of action.”
Our fight for freedom and democracy continues until this day. Lets not take it forgranted. Lets rededicate ourselves to it by exercising our rights to vote and fighting against those who attempt to take it away from us.
From here on, I would visit Corregidor with utmost respect and reverence for the heroes who fought and died in the Rock. At 1015H of May 6, 1942, General Wainwright wrote his final message to President Roosevelt which I will never forget and it said:
” With broken heart and head bowed in sadness but not in shame I report to Your Excellency that today I must arrange terms for the surrender of the fortified islands of Manila Bay….
” There is a limit of human endurance and that limit has long since been past. Without prospect of relief I feel it is my duty to my country and to my gallant troops to end this useless effusion of blood and human sacrifice. If you agree, Mr. President, please say to the nation that my troops and I have accomplished all that is humanly possible and that we have upheld the best tradition of the United States and its army. May God bless and preserve you and guide you and the nation in the effort to ultimate victory. With profound regret and with continued pride in my gallant troops I go to meet the Japanese. Goodbye, Mr. President.”
I admire General Wainwright and his troops for their valor in defending Corregidor to its bitter surrender and meeting their Japanese conquerors.
For the Generation Z (born 1994 onwards), it is our current generations’ responsibility to keep the stories of Corregidor alive in the minds and hearts of the young people. It starts by understanding our rich history in Corregidor more than the usual tourist route of ruins, guns and sunsets.