Friday, August 04, 2006


DAY 1 continued...
Arrival on the island was at about 9:15. Still a full day ahead. I was thrilled pink to realize that while all other passengers were herded off to begin their tour of the island, my "fellow consultants" (In the cheesy picture below: The Living Room technical director Denis Lagdameo, fellow tour guide Greg Dorris, and my wife, Tesa) were whisked off in a separate van to be leisurely checked into The Corregidor Inn (above). I even had time for a half-hour nap before venturing out. Yes. Not feeling like a lemming on the island. Plus one hundred points for the weekend. Definitely.

And I have to say, although the inn was designed by Arch. Francisco Manosa, the man who gave us such overwrought works as the Puerto Azul Beach Resort, the Coconut Palace, and the uber-hideous Our Lady of EDSA Shrine, I have to commend him for using a design (below) appropriate to the context of the island's history. The wide balconies, Machuca tile flooring, large windows and mix of Spanish and American colonial motifs reminded me of the old Army Navy Club in Manila. Quite unoffensive. Almost lovely. Even the check in counter had fresh Hibiscus (gumamela) plucked from the hotel gardens (Sorry. No picture. Just take my word for it.)
However, the lobby, like most other lobbies in the Philippines, was a little cluttered. Luckily, it did not suffer from other Philippine interior decorating sins such as horror vacuui and grimy neglect. In fact, the lobby was rather spotless. It bore no fried pork smells nor the scent of burning plastic. The only niggling issues I pointed out were that the barstools were in an awkward location - hindering flow into the dining hall, their bric a brac was in desperate need of rearranging/refreshing, and their gift shop was spilling out into the TV lounge area. But truth be told, even I must admit that I was being OC about this. Nevertheless, as we speak, Sun Cruises is resolving these issues. Hopefully, should any of you decide to take up their discounted overnight deal this month - and only this month- all of these little things I mentioned would have already been addressed. The scene below has been cleaned up and does not exist anymore.

Even the rooms of the inn were a trip back in time (below). The "capiz" windows (which were really fiberglass), rattan beds, and lack of a television set helped me imagine that I was staying at pre-war US Army Officer's quarters in Clark Air Base. As I said ealier, "US Military Chic". Even the chunky box airconditioner seemed quaint in it's slight obsolescence (Frankly, I was ecstatic that they even had air-conditioning at all). Unlike many other fellow Filipinos, I didn't find the hotel eerie or spooky. But then again, this was my perception while the sun was high.

At night, things are a completely different matter (above: hallway taken at 10:00PM). Can you say, "The Shining"? Just look down the hall and imagine two bloody girls (literally) chirping the words, "Come play with us...". All we need is a very nervous Shelley Duvall and the scene is complete. But don't get me wrong. One man's spooky scene is another man's serenity. I believe the reason why most fellow Filipinos consider the Corregidor Inn eerie is simply because the hotel is far too quiet for Filipino tastes. Personally, I consider the lack of noise (white or otherwise) to be a GREAT thing. For anyone out there who values the art of silence, I'm telling you, Corregidor is the place to be. Turn off the aircon, open the window and the only sound you will hear will be the hush of nightwinds and the cluck of random crickets (and perhaps the hum of your neighbor's airconditioner). For the record, I eventually turned the aircon back on and I experienced NO - I repeat - NO paranormal activity during my entire stay at the hotel.

A quick inspection of the grounds. The hotel has a pool (above). Don't worry, the ugly little Nestle boards flanking the boulder have already been removed. There is also talk of planting ferns on the boulder and turning it into a garden feature instead.

At the bottom of the hill next to the hotel, there is a cute little chapel with cool retro/modernist hardwood confession booths. Hello, a wedding on Corregidor. Now that's an idea. Very edgy (photos above). Beside the chapel, there is hostel for students/budget travellers and a recreation center with billiards and a bar are located right across each other (below).

The hotel has no spa but massage room service is available (No review for this). At noon, we joined the rest of the tourists at the restaurant for a buffet lunch and serenade. The musicians were stupendous. The buffet was well, satisfactory but not really my style.

Then, again, I'm really not the man to judge this lunch as I am a firm skeptic when it comes to the concept of "buffets" to begin with. Luckily, they had an ala carte menu. I ordered a clubhouse sandwich (I saw some American Vet eating one at the table next to mine) and I was very pleased. It was just like the sandwiches they used to serve at the Army Navy Club in Manila. Nostalgic. "US Military Chic" once again. I also learned from Kristine at Sun (5268888 loc. 9502) that for those who want to bring their own food (vegans, kosher, halal, or whatever), The Corregidor Inn can cook/heat/store your food for you at Php100.00 per kilo. Corkage for wines imbibed on hotel premises is Php500.00 per bottle. But then again, I found it unecessary to bring any as we found Yellow Tail for sale at their recreation center for Php250.00 per bottle. Fabulous. I recommend that you bring your own cold cuts and cheese to the island if you wish to add a touch more civility to the experience.

But in fairness to the island, they got their breakfasts right. My eggs were done perfectly crisp on the edges, just the way I ordered it and the portions were generous (above). The coffee was also brewed and NOT from a sachet as one would expect in most provincial establishments. Unfortunately, no one in our group ordered the western "continental" breakfast. But judging from what I saw on the neighboring tables once again, the quality wasn't too far from ours. Sun Cruises also tells me that they are working on expanding/improving the choices and standard of the island's cuisine (and the improvements should be completed by the time this blog hits print). I await with baited breath the arrival of hamburgers, hotdogs, milkshakes, or any other American style fare. Think: the menu of Army Navy Club/Manila Polo Club/Manila Golf Club or any other club established in the Philippines during the American Colonial Era. "U.S. Military Chic" once again and in total keeping with the history of the island.

Last photo: The best seat in the house. Get there early to grab it.

Next. What to do on Corregidor.