Thursday, May 5, 2011

Conquering Corregidor Island 4: Malinta Tunnel

* a map of Malinta Tunnel

* view of the Malinta Tunnel’s North Entrance which leads to the underground hospital
* Trailer Pransis posing outside the East Entrance

The Malinta Tunnel in Corregidor Island is perhaps one of the island’s most ingenious features. Found beneath Malinta Hill, the Tunnel is actually a network of sub-tunnels housing different quarters for the soldiers fighting during that time. All other tunnels connect to the main tunnel measuring 836 by 24 feet. The Malinta Tunnel was composed of the headquarters of General Douglas MacArthur, headquarters of the Harbor Defense, a 1,000-bed hospital, a gasoline storage area, a quartermaster’s area, and a series of lateral tunnels. There was also a navy tunnel connected to it.

The Tunnel has four major entrances: the North Entrance which leads to the hospital area; the East Entrance which leads to the Tailside area; the West Entrance which leads to the Bottomside area (and probably one of the most photographed part of the Tunnel); and finally, and this is a speculation, an entrance which leads to the Navy Tunnel.

* a replica of one of the guns in Corregidor being sold in a shop just outside the East Entrance

* some of the souvenir items being sold: ref magnets, t-shirts, and mugs

* another souvenir item: fish-shaped wallets!

President Manuel Quezon started out as the President of the Philippine Commonwealth, devised by USA for the Philippine Islands in 1939. At the outbreak of World War II, the country needed a leader more than any other time. He was thus sworn again as President (together with Vice President Sergio Osmeña) for a second term on December 30, 1941 outside Malinta Tunnel where the seat of the government was currently located.

Malinta Tunnel, of course, stood witness to the fiercest battles in the island, most notably the siege of Corregidor and the battles to retake the whole island during the latter months of the War.

* the first part of the lights and sounds show; a voice discussed what the presentation was about

* some of the dioramas being shown in the tunnel;
the lights and the voice-over gave life to these presentations
* a Philippine flag being raised as the National Athem was played in the ending part of the show

* Lateral Tunnel (15)

Today Malinta Tunnel and Malinta Hill are as silent as the seas surrounding them and now highlight sites for the visiting tourists. Malinta Tunnel is now home to a lights and sounds show entitled “The Malinta Experience.” This presentation was written and directed by Lamberto V. Avellana, a National Artist. On the ticket issued by the Corregidor Foundation, Inc. a subheading states that it was “his final tribute to valor, peace, and international understanding.” The ticket costs 100 pesos each.

The viewers for the show enter the East Entrance. The main tunnel now houses life-sized dioramas of some of the key events in Corregidor Island during the War. What makes it closer to the hearts of the Filipino viewers is the addition of the element of emotion to the dioramas, showing the loneliness that the fighting soldiers felt, the frustration, the hope that they would win the war. Beside the dioramas, there are also video presentations which hare actually footages taken during the war. In the end, the viewers are reminded of the purpose of what the soldiers fought for which was for freedom. Thus it was only fitting to end the lights and sounds show with the singing of the Philippine National Anthem. The viewers then exit through the West Entrance where a huge label of Malinta Tunnel can be seen. This, I think, is the most commonly photographed area to identify the place.

* a metal remnant of the War?

* this view gives one an eerie feeling of what it was like to live and thrive underground

* the West Entrance

In observing some of the tunnels, it seemed that some of the objects left there after the War were retained. Also, I saw that not all of the tunnels were renovated, particularly the lateral tunnels. For those who are availing the overnight package, I think that they are treated to a night visit to the hospital area where tales of ghosts and of the dead are the main themes. Yes, I would surely want to spend a night in Corregidor, even within Malinta Tunnel itself!


  1. I visited corrigador several times aboard the uss Mark akl12 1961-63 scuba Dived along south side of Island. Found pile of metal buttons,and military insignias.below cliff,below so.entrance of Malita tunnel. One day I was headed out in the open channel,to dive on the sunken ship,that killed all the School kids.was surprised by Large Barricuda! Aborted dive! Ed Barff EN3 us Navy

  2. That is quite interesting Sir, the mementos you said are still found underwater as well as the barracuda.