Today, 12 June 2014, is the 116th Anniversary of the Philippine Declaration of Independence. On this occasion, I remember a field trip two years ago to the historic island of Corregidor in Manila Bay. My kids and I joined the students and teachers of Bright Young Minds Learning Center in a hands-on history lesson that also became a fun day out.

I am Filipino, and I have lived in the Philippines for most of my life. But this trip in 2012 is the first time I went to Corregidor. I’m glad that my children were able to experience Corregidor in their youth and only a few months after we had moved back to the Philippines from Singapore.

We took a one-hour ferry ride from Manila Bay to the island. On the island, we moved from place to place on a tram (which is especially great considering the heat and humidity). We saw old barracks and artillery. We went up an old lighthouse. We saw many memorials for the many who died in war, e.g. the Pacific War Memorial, various memorials for fallen Filipino, American and Japanese soldiers, the memorial for the Filipino Woman. We walked through the Malinta Tunnel, and watched audio-visual presentations of the history of Corregidor, including how the American and Filipino soldiers lived and died in the tunnel. Our tour ended in the museum, where we saw war memorabilia, including guns and other weapons, plane models, coins, letters and photos.

To relax after a half-day tour, we had a picnic lunch by the beach. Thankfully, there were enough sun and sea breeze to make it a fun and pleasant way to end our day in Corregidor.

My children and I might not remember the dates, names and details of our Corregidor tour. But we do remember that the Philippines wasn’t always a free country.  We remember that war is a terrible thing that ravages lives and nature. We remember that our freedom is something Filipinos and our allies have fought and died for.