John F. Kennedy once said, “Mankind must put an end to war before war puts an end to mankind.” In a world full of continuous hatred and sorrow, we often forget that mankind has already been through so much. Knowing this, it is impossible for us all to remember each chapter of humans’ pasts. When it comes down to it, we only ever think of our own nation’s history. Nevertheless, there are still parts of American history that many Americans do not know about because these events did not occur on American soil. On a trip to the Philippines, I was given the amazing opportunity to take a trip back in time. Using my Sony SLT-A55V, I decided to document a huge piece of history that I did not learn about in high school, but I really should have.
During World War II, U.S. troops fought in various areas of the Pacific as a result of the Pearl Harbor bombing in 1941. Having already been colonized by the U.S. in the early 1900’s, the Philippines was a direct target for the Japanese Axis Powers. Corregidor Island, or Isla ng Corregidor, served as a battle site on two major accounts. Japanese troops were invading parts of the Philippines. Filipino and American troops fell under the leadership of General Douglas MacArthur and Corregidor Island was the last standing against the Japanese military during the Battle of Bataan in 1942.
Of just the Battle of Corregidor alone, American and Filipino troops were outnumbered 75,000 to 13,000. In the end, Japan suffered about 2,100 casualties and America and the Philippines about 1,800 casualties. The Filipinos and Americans were forced to surrender, leaving the other 11,000 troops to be Prisoners of War. General MacArthur was then forced to leave. It was at this time when he famously stated, “I shall return.”
Of course this would just foreshadow his return and the liberation of the island in 1945. If you would like to read more about this war-changing event, click here. If you want to be a bit more adventurous, travel out to Manila, and enjoy a short ferry ride over to Isla ng Corregidor.
On the island, tours are available to view the preserved locations of these epic battles. These tours include travel around the island by bus for the opportunity to see some of the artillery used during the fights as well as a few monuments built to honor the Battle of the Philippines and the lives lost during it. For a special look into what happened all those years ago, some tours include a show held inside Malinta Tunnel; a complex built into the island’s mountains used as a bomb-proof shelter, storage, and hospital. It has been 70 years since World War II, and there is still much to be learned from it. Corregidor Island, in all of its riches, holds a key to a great amount of tragedy. This is a tragedy we shall not forget.
“In these hallowed surroundings where heroes sleep, may their ashes scatter with the wind and live in the hearts of those who were left behind. They died for freedom’s right and in heaven’s sight, theirs was a noble cause.”
See more photos from Isla ng Corregidor.