Tuesday, March 06, 2012

Philippine Sea Sentinels: Corregidor Lighthouse

As my first sentinel, Corregidor Lighthouse will always be special.

I made the visit during my JPIA days sometime in November 2002, when my friends and I were scouting for a venue for the JPIA Regional Convention that year. We were informed by our friends from PUP-Bataan that there was a casino resort in Corregidor Island (our JPIA Bataan Provincial President actually was vouching for the pretty casino girls). From Subic, Zambales, our group travelled at two in the morning to reach the shores of Mariveles, Bataan just before sunrise. From there, we were greeted by a World War II Veteran who happened to own the fishing boat we rented. His domain, as I recall it, was full of World War II memorabilia. Mariveles was a quiet industrial and fishing town then.

One thing I remember about our boat ride then was that our boatman caught a barracuda with his bare hands during the trip. That was all the excitement we had during the 20-minute transfer. Upon arrival at the island, we bargained with the Tranvia operators for a discounted trip around the island. One of the several stops in the tour is a drop over the lighthouse.

I didn’t bring my camera during our trip back in 2002. However, I came back with a camera and with my beautiful Lola last 2007 thanks to Sun Cruises.


The lighthouse stands at what was known then as Top Site, the highest portion of Corregidor Island. The original was built on January 20, 1935. Equipped with 2nd order lens, it primarily served as a guide to vessels entering and leaving Manila Bay.

The Spanish tower was built using rocks originating from Meycauayan, Bulacan. Unlike most Spanish lighthouses in the Philippines, the Corregidor lighthouse is uniquely built by leaning away from the design prevalent in the former. The base of the lighthouse was composed of quarters before. These quarters are now boutique shops catered to tourists visiting the island. The rooms outside were the kitchen and the storeroom then.

Unknown to many, Corregidor Island served as a prison, hence the Spanish word “corregir” or to correct, during the Spanish and American periods. During the Japanese siege, the original lighthouse, like most structures in the island, was not spared from the bombs. It was eventually rebuilt and the tower was redesigned and emblazoned with a crucifix to commemorate those who sacrificed their lives to defend the Philippines. It was recently upgraded and ironically, it was the Japanese government which funded its rehabilitation.

How To Get There

Just like what we did, you can rent a private boat to Corregidor Island from Mariveles, Bataan. There are also boatmen in Ternate, Cavite who can bring you to the rock. Just a warning though, the sea can be very rough during the afternoon.

If you like it hassle-free, there is always Sun Cruises.

Manuel Maximo L. Noche, Lonely Sentinels of the Sea: The Spanish Lighthouses in the Philippines, (UST Publishing House, 2005)