Strategically located at the entrance of Manila Bay in southwestern part of Luzon, Corregidor Island (also known as The Rock) served as a mighty fortress to defend the entrance of Manila Bay and the City of Manila, from attacks by enemy warships in the event of war. It was fortified with several coastal artillery and ammunition magazines and was part of the harbor defense of Manila Bay together with El Fraile Island (Fort Drum), Caballo Island (Fort Hughes) and Carabao Island (Fort Frank), which were all fortified during the American occupation of the country. The island was also the site of a small military airfield, as part of the defense.
During World War II, Corregidor played an important role during the invasion and liberation of the Philippines from Japanese forces. Heavily bombarded in the latter part of the war, the ruins left on the island serves as a military memorial to several American, Filipino and Japanese soldiers who served or lost their lives on the island.
At present, Corregidor is one of the important historic and tourist sites in the Philippines. The ruins of the war have not been restored, and left how it was after the war in reverence to the Filipino and American soldiers who died there.
One of the most revered attraction on the island is the Pacific War Memorial, which stands on the highest part of Corregidor's topside. It was was built by the United States Government to honor the Filipino and American soldiers who participated in World War II. Completed in 1968, the memorial consists of a rotunda with a circular altar directly under the dome's oculus through which light falls on the altar during daylight hours. Located behind the Memorial is the Eternal Flame of Freedom, a 40 feet (12 m) Corten steel structure commissioned to Aristides Demetrios symbolizing freedom.
Another historical monument in Corregidor is the Malinta Tunnel, which is touted as the last stronghold of the joint Philippine and American military prior to the Japanese takeover during the last world war. Today, visitors of the tunnel are greeted by an audio-visual presentation by National Artist Lamberto V. Avellana which narrates 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 eventually in exile in the United States.
A relatively new attraction, the Filipino Heroes Memorial at the Tail End, is a 6,000-square meter complex featuring 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 Japanese Garden of Peace was built as a memorial to the Japanese soldiers who served and died on the island during WWII. The park includes a praying area, shrines, markers and a small pavilion that houses photographs and memorabilia.
The Corregidor lighthouse on Topside is one of the oldest landmarks in Corregidor. It was first lit in 1853. In 1897, the defective lighting apparatus was changed extending the range to 33 miles (53 km). The grounds and keeper's dwellings were further improved during the American occupation. During WWII, the lighthouse was damaged during the siege of Corregidor. The lighthouse was totally reconstructed in the 1950s with a different design and stands on the same spot where the first lighthouse once stood. The whole lantern of the lighthouse was recently replaced by the Philippine Coast Guard to run on solar power.