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Corregidor is an island in the entrance of the Philippinesmarker' Manila Baymarker. Due to its position in the bay, it has served as a focal point for the naval defenses of the capital city of Manilamarker. During World War II, Corregidor was the site of several battles and its fall to the Japanese forcesmarker was instrumental in the subsequent capture of the Philippines and the retreat of the United Statesmarker in the early stages of the war. Currently, it is an important historic and tourist site and is managed under the jurisdiction of Cavite Citymarker.


The island is about 48 kilometers west of Manila. It is shaped like a tadpole, with its tail running eastward, and has a land area of 9 km². Along with Caballomarker (which lies 2 km south of the "tail's" tip), it partially blocks the entrance to Manila Bay, and thus has strategic importance. It also creates a northern and southern entrance to the bay.

Because of its rocky landscape and the fortifications of Fort Millsmarker, the island was also known as "the Rock" .

Geologically the island is a remnant of a volcano, Corregidor Calderamarker, last active about 1 million years ago. Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology regards it as a potentially active volcano.

Corregidor is four miles (6 km) long and about at its widest point, with a total area roughly about three square miles. Its bulbous head, which points towards the South China Seamarker rises prominently to a large flat called Topside. This was the nerve center of the Island and here was located the headquarters, barracks for enlisted personnel, a branch of the Philippine Trust Co. bank, the Cine movie theater, officers' quarters, underground ordnance shops, the traditional parade grounds, an Officers' Club with a 9 hole Golf Course , tennis courts, and swimming pool, and the bulk of the batteries that constituted the strength of Corregidor.


Middleside is a small plateau that interrupts the upward slope from Bottomside to Topside, and was the location of 2-story officers' quarters, barracks for the enlisted men, a hospital, quarters for non-commissioned officers, a service club, PX, and two schoolhouses—one for the children of Filipino soldiers and the other for American children.


Bottomside is the lower part of the island and is the neck that connects the tail and head of the island. South of Bottomside is Barrio San José (near what was Navy Beach); on the north is what was Army Dock, with its three large piers, and, east of Bottomside, is Malinta Tunnel.

Early Corregidor

Corregidor Island History during Spanish Rule 1570-1898

Under the Spanishmarker era, Corregidor served not only as a fortress of defense and a penal institution, but also as a signal outpost to warn Manilamarker of the approach of hostile ships, and as a station for Customs inspection. Corregidor comes from the Spanish word corregir, meaning "to correct." One story states that, due to the Spanish system wherein all ships entering Manila Bay were required to stop and have their documents checked and corrected, the island was called Isla del Corregidor (literally, Island of Correction). Another version claims that the island was used a penitentiary or correctional institution by the Spanish and came to be called El Corregidor.

The island fell under Spanish sovereign in May 1570 when Manila Bay (Luzon) was taken up by the advance forces of Miguel Lopez de Legazpi, though definite annexation was in May 19th 1571. then Legazpi was authorized by the Spanish Crown to establish the capital in Manila and he expelled the Muslims from Mindanao and Luzon. Corregidor was used as a support site for the nine Spanish galleys used during the cruise campaign.

On 23 November 1574, the Chinese pirate LI-Ma-Hong and his 65 vessel fleet, with 3,000 men anchored between Corregidor and Mariveles. From that site he launched two successive attacks against Manila, commanded either by Li-Ma-Hong himself or the Japanese Sioco. Both of them failed their purpose before a fierce battle defense led by the governor Juan de Salcedo.

In November and December 1600 the surroundings of Corregidor Island were used as berth by the Dutchman Oliver de Noort. His sail boats Mauritius and Hendracht were engaged in pirate activities on the traffic sailing to and from Manila. This situation was overcome after the naval combat of Fortune Island on 14 December 1600. As a result, spain lost its ship San Diego but captured the Dutch sailing boat Hendracht and the Oliver de Noort retired from the Philippines.

As a consequence of these events, and also to prevent a sneak attack by the Muslims from Mindanao, a watch vessel was settled in Corregidor to control the entrance to the bay. According to data from 1637, this vessel had a crew of twenty men, who were paid 540 pesos a year to perform this vigilance task.

Corregidor Island was taken over by the Dutch in June 1647 and from there they launched an offensive against Cavite which was repelled by the Spanish garrison, under command of Andre Lopez de Azalduigui. However, the Dutchmen would remain in the island for seven more months as it served them well as an operations base to intercept Chinese merchant traffic in the vecinity of Luzon and Cebu. Finally they withdrew with little of heir expectations fulfilled.

During the British attack and subsequent invasion of Manila and Cavite in October 1762 by the fleet and troops of Admiral Cornish and General Draper, Corrigidor was newly used to anchor vessels, particularly the HMS Panther and its captured vessel the Spanish galleon Santisima Trinidad, in November of the same year.

The arrival of the Spanish fleet, led by General Ignacio Mario de Alava, with the mission to place the Philippine archipelago on alert, did not affect the luck of Corregidor Island. He restrained his activity to setting up a naval station in Cavaite.

In 1836 the Spaniards built a lighthouse in the central part of the island, it rose 628 feet above sea level and was enlarged in 1897. It was destroyed during the Second World War.

Corregidor Island was included in the Philippines defense Plan presented in 1885 by General Cerero but no action was taken. When the U.S. Fleet attack was known to be imminent, a 12 cm gun, Hontoria System, coming from the cruiser Antonio de Ulloa and two shorter ones same system and caliber, from the Lezo, were installed on the rocky island El Fraile. In the south of the island the Spaniards emplaced three 18cm artillery pieces, Armstron system, coming from the cruiser Velasco which was undergoing reparation works.

On the midnight of April 30th to the 1st of may 1898, United States Admiral Dewy led his naval fleet, with the Flag of Command hoisted on the cruiser Olympia, eastward along the South of Corregidor Island, beyond the reach of Spanish Batteries and without any lights on.

At about one mile off of El Fraile island, Dewy's fleet changed course to the North East, sailing towards Manila. When they were discovered, the Spaniards fired from El Fraile's artillery. American response followed immediately, first by the McCulloc and then by the Boston, Raleigh and Concord. Since the fleet speed was ten knots, they were soon far away from the Spanish batteries. Dewey sailed for Cavite where he destroyed the naval forces of Admiral Monojo.

Once the Cavite shipyard was subdued by means of a Stipulated Pact, two American ships went ashore at Corregidor Island on the 3rd of May forcing the Spaniards on the island to surrender. Colonel Garces, chief of the coast batteries at the entrance of Manila's Bay, and the island's governor, 1st Class Naval Lieutenant, Augusto Miranda, were urged to come to terms with the Americans, and so they did. Therefore, Miranda remained in the island with only 100 soldiers and the spanish Flag on top; Garces and officers under his command, as well as 292 men with their weapons and ammunition, were transferred to Mariveles port. From there they were conducted along the provinces of Batan and Pampanga until they reached Manila on the 5th of May. There they joined the Navy battalion which was already quartered in Sampoloc.

On the 4th of May, the American ships opened fire against the 100 men who, according to the Pact had been left on Corregidor and demanded the garrison forces be reduced to 25 men. The governor consulted Manila authorities and they ordered evacuation of the island. The troops wee sent to Naic on boats while the governor was transferred to the American cruiser Baltimore and became a prisoner with his family.

The Americans offered to liberate him but the Navy Lieutenant rejected. Shortly afterwards he was disembarked in Balanga. In this way the Spanish presence on Corregidor Island, which had lasted 328 years, came to an end.

Twentieth Century

Bottomside in 1982
The entrance to Malinta Tunnel
In 1902, the island was organized as an American military reservation. In 1903, a convalescent hospital was established by the United States Army.

In 1908, a Regular Army post was established on the island, designated as Fort Mills, in honor of Brigadier General Samuel Meyers Mills, Jr., Chief of Artillery of the U.S. Army from 1905 to 1906. By early 1909, H Company of the 2nd Battalion of the Corps of Engineers was assigned to Corregidor and started on the construction of concrete emplacements, bomb-proof shelters, and trails at various parts of the island. This pioneer engineer company left Fort Mills on March 15, 1912.

The defense of Corregidor was the immediate responsibility of the Philippine Coast Artillery Command under Major General George F. Moore. Stationed on the island were the following regular units:
  • 59th Coast Artillery (U.S. Regular Army)
  • 60th Coast Artillery AA (U.S. Regular Army)
  • 91st Coast Artillery (Philippine Scouts)
  • 92nd Tractor Drawn Coast Artillery (Philippine Scouts)
  • Headquarters, Harbor Defenses of Manila and the Seaward Defense Command.

After the outbreak of World War II, the island was reinforced by mobilized Philippine Army troops, and in April 1942, one Battalion of the Fourth Marines, which were sent to reinforce the island's beach defenses.

The Army post on Corregidor was named Fort Mills, that on Caballo Islandmarker, Fort Hughesmarker, on El Frailemarker, Fort Drum, and on Carabao Island, Fort Frank. According to the war plan, these forts were supposed to be able to make a six-month stand, after which aid would presumably come from the United Statesmarker. The fortifications on Corregidor were designed solely to beat off a seaborne attack. When American military planners realized that airplanes would one day render Fort Mills obsolete, the United States was restricted from improving the fortifications by the Washington Naval Treaty of 1922. After this, the U.S. Army constructed the Malinta Tunnel, with its series of related laterals, to protect its military stores and vital installations in the event of war.

The island, which sheltered Fort Mills, was a prized piece of real estate. Its defense installations had cost the U.S. government more than 150 million dollars. This amount did not include the expenditure for fortifying the neighboring islands of Caballo, Carabao, and El Fraile.

World War II

During the Battle of the Philippines , General Douglas MacArthur used Corregidor as Allied headquarters until March 11, 1942. Between December 24, 1941 and February 19, 1942, it was also the temporary location of the Government of the Commonwealth of the Philippines—on December 30, 1941, outside the Malinta Tunnel, President Manuel L. Quezon and Vice-President Sergio Osmeña were inaugurated for a second term. The Voice of Freedom, the radio station of the USAFFE (United States Army Forces in the Far East) broadcast from Corregidor, including the famous announcement of the fall of Bataan. Japanesemarker troops forced a surrender of the remaining American and Filipino forces on Corregidor on May 6 after the Battle of Corregidor.

Battle of Corregidor

The Battle for Corregidor was the culmination of the Japanese campaign for the conquest of the Philippines. The fall of Bataan in April 9, 1942 ended all organized opposition by the U.S. Armed Forces in the Far East (USAFFE) to the invading Japanese forces on Luzon in the northern Philippines. The island bastion of Corregidor, with its network of tunnels and formidable array of defensive armament, along with the fortifications across the entrance to Manila Bay, was the remaining obstacle to the 14th Japanese Imperial Army of Lieutenant General Masaharu Homma. The Japanese had to take Corregidor; as long as the island remained in American hands, they would be denied the use of the Manila Bay, the finest natural harbor in the Orient.

Return to Corregidor

For main article see Battle of Corregidor

The Battle for the Recapture of Corregidor, between 16 February and 26 February 1945, by American and Filipino liberation forces against the defending Japanese garrison on the island fortress used by the USAFFE, which was the last bastion to surrender to invading Japanese forces in 1942.


The fortifications on Corregidor

There were 23 batteries installed on Corregidor, consisting of 56 coastal guns and mortars. In addition, Corregidor had 13 anti-aircraft artillery batteries with 76 guns (28 3-inch and 48 .50-caliber) and 10 60-inch Sperry searchlights.

The longest-range coastal pieces were the two guns of Batteries Hearn and Smith, with a horizontal range of . Although capable of an all around traverse, these guns, due to their flat trajectories, were not effective for use against targets on Bataanmarker.

During the siege, the island had ample armor-piercing ammunition but very little of the anti-personnel type, which then was of greatest demand for use against land targets on Bataan. In fact, most of the anti-personnel shells were only for the 12-inch mortars of Batteries Way and Geary.

Battery Way

Battery Way was named in honor of the Coast Artillery Corps of the U.S. Army, which along with Battery Geary, was the mainstay of the Corregidor Garrison during the Japanese invasion. Its mortars, capable of a 360-degree traverse, could fire on land targets at Bataan. They brought the most destruction on Japanese positions during the attempted landings on the southwest coast of Bataan late in January to the middle of February 1942. These mortars were silenced by enemy shelling in May 1942.

Battery Geary

Battery Geary was a battery of eight 13-ton, 12-inch mortars. This battery, when pinpointed by the Japanese, was subjected to heavy shelling. One direct hit by a 240-mm shell, which detonated the magazines of this battery in May 1942, proved to be the most crippling shot during the entire siege of Corregidor. This shelling tossed the mortars around, one to a distance of , another was blown through three feet of reinforced concrete wall into the adjoining powder magazine of Battery Crockett. Large chunks of steel were blown as far as the Malinta Tunnel, killing 27 of the battery crew instantly. Also, one mortar still had a live round in its breech, and it was in the process of firing the shell when the magazine was hit.

Other facts

Aerial view of the ruins

  • Before the war and during the siege, Corregidor depended mostly for its potable water on Bataan. For this purpose, barges were used to haul water either from Marivelesmarker or Cabcaben, Bataan.

  • There were of paved roads and trails on the island and of electric railroad track. The latter were used largely to haul heavy equipment and ammunition from Bottomside to the different Batteries. The Corregidor High School was where children, of both Filipino and American servicemen assigned on the island, studied. The island also had an electric trolley system as public transport, a movie house (Cine Corregidor), a baseball field and a swimming pool. The business and social center of this community was found on Topside.

  • On the island was Kindley Airfield. It was named in honor of an early hero of the U.S. Army Air Corps. It was a pre-war installation developed in the early-1920s and was rendered useless by hostile aerial bombardment in the early days of the war.

  • The lighthouse is one of the oldest landmarks in Corregidor. A lighthouse with a beam range of . It was first built by the Spaniards in 1836 and was replaced with a better one in 1853. The second lighthouse was further improved in 1892 and was reduced to ruins during the siege of Corregidor. This rehabilitated lighthouse stands on the same spot where the second lighthouse stood before.

Pacific War Memorial

Marker of the Pacific War Memorial
After the War, many people, most of them veterans, visited the island because of its history. Today, Corregidor is a historic monument as well as a tourist destination. Many travel companies offer day tours on the island featuring military installations used during World War II. Most of the war-ravaged buildings have not been restored, but have instead been left in reverence to the Filipino and American soldiers who died there. Standing on the highest part of Corregidor's west side is the Pacific War Memorial, which was built by the United States Government to honor the Filipino and American soldiers who participated in World War II. It was completed in 1968 at the cost of three million dollars.

The Malinta Tunnel, which is the last stronghold of the joint Philippine and American military prior to the Japanese takeover during the last world war, is now home to an audio-visual presentation by National Artist Lamberto V. Avellana of the events that took place on the island, including the reluctant departure of General Douglas MacArthur and the evacuation of the Philippine president Manuel L. Quezon and his family to unoccupied areas of the Philippines and then to exile in the United States.

One of the most recent additions to Corregidor is the Filipino Heroes Memorial. This 6,000-square meter complex has 14 murals depicting heroic battles fought by Filipinos from the 15th century up to the present day. It was designed by Francisco Mañosa, while the murals and a statue of a Filipino guerrilla were sculpted by Manuel Casas. The complex was inaugurated by President Fidel V. Ramos on August 28, 1992.

Once every May 6 at exactly noon, sunlight falls on the center of the altar and visitors are required to have a moment of silence since this is the exact moment that Corregidor and the Philippines fell into the hands of the Japanese.

See also


  1. History, Corregidor
  • Gerez, M. B. The Story of Corregidor.

External links

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