MANILA, Philippines—An underground war tunnel in Fort Bonifacio that will be reopened to tourism is a fitting tribute to the many unsung heroes in the military.
The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) has welcomed the initiative of the Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA) to transform the Fort Bonifacio Tunnel into a heritage site to honor the sacrifices of the country’s long line of soldiers.
The underground passageway is located at the eastern area of what is now called Bonifacio Global City in Taguig City, which used to be part of the sprawling Army base.
The tunnel used to be the main attraction of the old Philippine Army museum and library, which have since been relocated with the conversion of a sizable portion of the military camp into a business and residential district.
AFP Chief of Staff Lieutenant General Jessie Dellosa thanked the BCDA for having the tunnel declared as a historical site and reopening it to the public.
“The dedication of this heritage site is a valuable recognition for our soldiers. We hope for the success of this endeavor so that it may benefit our country’s economic growth and our people’s sense of historical appreciation,” he said in a statement.
He added that the tunnel’s reopening was timely since the Philippine Army would be celebrating its 115th founding anniversary on March 22.
According to acknowledged military historian retired Brigadier General Restituto Aguilar, the Fort Bonifacio Tunnel was constructed almost simultaneously with what was then called Fort McKinley (now known as Fort Bonifacio) in 1910.
The camp’s construction took almost a decade.
Aguilar said the camp and its structures were built before Gen. Douglas MacArthur’s stint as field marshal of the Philippine Army, correcting the misconception that it was MacArthur who ordered the tunnel’s construction.
Aguilar said the tunnel served as the American colonial forces’ main supply depot during its battle with Filipino revolutionaries.
It was originally 2.24 kilometers long with 32 built-in chambers and two passable exits, one leading to Barangay (village) Pembo and the other to Barangay East Rembo.
At present a 730-meter-long segment of the tunnel remains intact, running under the C-5 Road with the opening near the Market! Market! commercial compound.