April 21, 2009

Corregidor: The tunnels

Corregidor Island had a vast network of tunnels built under solid rock. The Americans designed Fort Mills solely to ward off attacks from the sea but they soon realized that it would be very vulnerable to attacks from the air. So in 1922, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, with the help of the Philippine Scouts and a thousand convicts from Manila's Bilibid Prison, began work on tunnels that were meant to be a bomb-proof storage and personnel bunker. Its main tunnel was built under Malinta (full of leeches) Hill and the tunnel complex came to be known as Malinta Tunnel. It was finished in 1932.

entrance to Malinta Tunnel in Corregidor Island

During the Battle of Corregidor, Malinta Tunnel served as the headquarters of General Douglas MacArthur and was also the seat of the Philippine Commonwealth government under President Manuel Quezon (you've seen him before here) and Vice President Sergio Osmeña. Today, the main tunnel is the venue of an audio-visual show about the siege of Corregidor. With a script written by National Artist for Theater and Film Lamberto Avellana and sculptures made by National Artist for Sculpture Napoleon Abueva, the show is a must-see for WWII history buffs and for anyone who would like to understand what so many men and women had to endure for our freedom. (Please pardon the fuzzy picture. It was the best I could do in the darkness without using a flash.)

main Malinta Tunnel in Corregidor Island

The main tunnel had 24 side tunnels branching from it. Much narrower and lower than the main tunnel, it was actually these laterals that served as storage areas and headquarters. Some of them led to other entrances, and two of the tunnels led to their own tunnel complexes. One of these was the underground hospital which had 1,000 beds. The main tunnel was restored for the lights-and-sounds show, but many of the smaller tunnels collapsed during WWII and remain that way.

one of the collapsed lateral tunnels in the Malinta Tunnel complex in Corregidor Island

Back outside, the island is also riddled with tiny tunnels and caves. I forgot to ask the guide if these were connected to the Malinta Tunnel complex, but he said that they were used by both American and Japanese snipers.

entrance to small cave on Corregidor Island

CORREGIDOR ISLAND SERIES #3 OF 7

30 comments:

Abe Lincoln said...

Interesting stories about this historical place. Thanks for doing the series.

Olive Tree Guitar Ensemble said...

Hi, it's a very great blog.
I could tell how much efforts you've taken on it.
Keep doing!

Brad said...

Great post for today...

Vogon Poet said...

I remember scenes shot in these tunnels, but they were obviously staged in Hollywood. It is impressive how well are kept these historical places.
Said without any malice, do Japanese tourists visit the places as well?

James said...

This is very interesting. I can't imagine what it must of been like in those days. Thanks for the information and photos.

Lois said...

This is so interesting Hilda! The picture of the inside of the tunnel looks so eerie!

Olivier said...

la photo dans le tunnel est superbe, avec cette lumiere et puis magnifique paysage sur le dernière photo

the picture in the tunnel is superb, with light and then this beautiful landscape on the last photo

Aisha said...

I've been here in your blog before. :) I enjoyed your photos about our country. :) You're a good photographer, really good.

Cezar and Léia said...

Great post Hilda!
Your picture inside the tunel is perfect!
Léia

Jarart said...

This is an interesting series! Thanks for showing it.

hadv said...

I've always been meaning to go to Corregidor Island.. maybe someday :-)

Ken Mac said...

excellent history

Joy said...

That last photo is spectacular, Hilda.

Thanks for visiting Norwich Daily Photo and leaving your comment. Come back tomorrow!


joy
A Pinay In EnglandYour Love CoachI, Woman

Steffe said...

A fascinating read and very interesting photos. And a big hospital!

Coşkun said...

Thanks for sharing photos and history.

Halcyon said...

The history is really fascinating. Underground life is strangely interesting to me. I've visited the (tourist section) catacombs in Paris and part of the sewers. I'd love to take a look around these tunnels.

Nice pictures too!

marley said...

Looks a bit dark and scary to me!

Corker2 said...

Thanks again for sharing information on those tunnels that had such a great part in the fall of Corregidor during WWII. Wish that I could see them for myself, but that's not possible. I'll just bet that if those walls could talk, they would have so much to say. These and other places in your Country I would have liked to see while I was there. However, the US Navy and Vietnam had other plans. My stay in Subic Bay was just too short. It's something that I will never see again, but still exist in my memory.

PJ said...

My husband and son are military science and history buffs. DH loved seeing these pics and so did I. I've heard of Corregidor all my life, to see it in photos is something, to see it in person must be indescribable. Thanks, Hilda, another great essay.

Jacob said...

I've seen photos of the tunnel in movies and in WWII books, but yours are the best and I think show something of the difficulties these people faced awaiting their fate.

By the way, is there a general consensus re: Gen. MacArthur in the Philippines?

Tamera said...

I visited Corregidor many times as a child (in the 70's), and what I remember the most is how creepy it was down in the tunnels! I was sure they were haunted!

Louis la Vache said...

"Louis" is delighted to read your Corregidor posts!

Please send "Louis" your current e-mail - the one he has for you isn't working...

melanie said...

Je ne connaissais pas du tout cette histoire de l'île Corregidor ! Très intéressant ! Et comme tu dis, beaucoup d'hommes ont souffert pour notre liberté!

Merci de tes visites régulières sur mon blog !

GreensboroDailyPhoto said...

What an interesting part of history. You are bringing so much about your country to the rest of the world!!!

Pam said...

Hi Hilda, your post is so informative and interesting. Your photos are great too. I don't know where you find the time to do it all but I sure do enjoy your blog! Thanks for your visit:D

Clueless in Boston said...

Great series on Corregidor.

Tarolino said...

What a fascinating piece of historical facts and great shots to go with it.
WWII certainly has left its mark in many places.
Thanks for sharing this historical post.

the donG said...

having with you a historical book will definitely make this place very interesting. good and bad memories will still make us appreciate our heritage.

never been there.

Joe Narvaez said...

One of the places I have always wanted to visit. Thanks for the pictures!

cdokay said...

The tunnel is one of the sites I want to visit. this had a historical moment before.Cagayan de Oro philippines