The cry of a monkey, then silence again. The three men are looking across a bomb crater at the large building. Its dark windows stare back. It is burnt out, destroyed but still standing. The jungle and the monkey have retaken it.
None of the men talk. It is neither their knowledge of the thousands to have died here, nor the strange beauty of this unfortunate place that awes them most. It’s the silence. As if the island were still trying to compensate for the deafening explosions that reverberated all the way to Luzon more than 60 years ago. The Spanish, the Americans, the Japanese and the Americans again. The men found traces of all of them. And they found the complete destruction in their wake. Ruins in silence telling the story.
Corregidor Island in silence? - Only by bicycle
This was Corregidor island earlier this year. The three men were two friends and myself.
But this was more. It was Corregidor re-visited. We had come back on our mountain bikes. No need for the tour bus, the tour guide on a blaring loudspeaker, the fixed route and noisy co-tourists. This time we were free to explore Corregidor’s obscurest corners at will. And we were are all alone.
All this seemed so far from Manila. It is hard to believe that no bus or car is needed to get there. We simply rode from Ortigas Centre to the Cruise Terminal at the CCP Complex (Sunday morning - no traffic) and from there on the boat to Corregidor.
It is as true as it is against conventional wisdom: If you live in Manila you can still enjoy great cycling - with no need to worry about traffic. You just have to know where.