One might say that there is nothing to do in the Philippine province Bataan, then one must open its eyes. The Philippines is a naturally diverse country due to its geography. In Bataan, World War II has played a prominent role in history and the story is made sure to be remembered in several ways. Last time you could read about a WWII memorial at Mt. Samat. This time, we visited a memorial on Corregidor Island. An island with an important role in protecting the city of Manila.
Plastic Pollution Problem in Corregidor
The only way to get on this island is by boat and my aunt had arranged a tour day. So we were tourists, at least we were ”local” tourists as we were with family and friends. Anyway, when the boat nears Isla ng Corregidor, heaps of plastic garbage will welcome you. Locals told us that this plastic problem has its source in Manila, where people throw plastic in the waters without thinking of the consequences. When the plastic reaches the sea, it will drift ashore in Corregidor, somewhere else in Bataan or it will drift to the open sea.
What people often forget to think about are the consequences. Marine species are often killed or harmed by plastic debris, mostly through entanglement and ingestion of litter (Derraik, 2002). Furthermore, natural habitats can be damaged due to the ‘long life’ plastic has. It takes a long time for plastic to fully complete its degradation process. But when it does it produces ‘microplastics’, plastic material that less than 5 millimeter in its diameter. These microplastics could be consumed by small organisms such as plankton and could accumulate in the food chain. Therefore, human health can be damaged by eating fish that contains microplastics (National Research Council, 2008, pp. 193-197, UNEP, Plastic Debris in the World’s Oceans, 2005 ).
A Trip Around the Island
Other than our own group, some employees and two foreigners, we did not see anyone else on the island. It is as calm and beautiful as it could possibly be. Which is kind of a weird thing when you imagine all the terrible things that happened on this island.
Corregidor is one of the islands that formed the harbor defense of Manila Bay during WWII. When the Japanse had invaded the Philippines, Corregidor played a key role in the liberation of the countries. It is therefore that the heavily bombed island has ruins and artillery as a military memorial to American, Filipino and Japanese soldiers who served or lost their lives on the island.
The Beauty of Corregidor
Nevertheless, Corregidor is a beautiful and calm island that is definitely worth the visit. When we visited, it was definitely not crowded. I would have liked to bike the island instead of hopping on and off on a jeepney. The jeepney driver and tour guide was kind of cranky that day too. There are several things to visit in Corregidor such as the different kinds of artillery, ruins, tunnels, old money bills, statues and a museum.
Even though the story of Corregidor has a heavy load, we managed to have some fun! Vincent really got the hang of it. Nevertheless, if you want to get a look into the Philippine history and at the same time enjoy nature, we recommend you to visit Corregidor!
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Derraik, J. G. (2002). The pollution of the marine environment by plastic debris: a review. Marine pollution bulletin, 44(9), 842-852.
National Research Council. (2008). Tackling Marine Debris in the 21st Century. Washington DC: The National Academies Press.
UNEP. (2005). Plastic Debris in the Worlds Oceans. Amsterdam: Greenpeace International.