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Sunday, January 19, 2014

inside the dark chambers of MALINTA TUNNEL

I don't like scary things.I mean, horror movies for example.My principle is simple, why would I pay 5 bucks to scare myself? My life is already to complicated and exciting to do that.That said, I usually avoid creepy places too.But there is one experience that is worth the scare ----the Guided Tour inside MALINTA CHANNEL.

It's one of unique experiences that I failed to write about in 2013. I finally got to go to Corregidor Island early last year thanks to Manila City Walks.

The main travel experience I wrote here: Of Bombs, Big Guns and Lost Gold: The CORREGIDOR ISLAND WALKING TOUR. But there was one interesting sidetrip that was not originally part of the tour but we decided to have anyway.


Malinta Tunnel was dug through solid rock and offered complete protection from artillery or air attack. Command communications and medical units were located there. Gen. MacArthur set up the headquarters of USAFFE inside the tunnel where men and women would live and work during the siege of Corregidor. The tunnel was originally designed to house huge quantities of ammunition, food and supplies, and an underground hospital with a 1,000-bed capacity. It was the last stronghold of American and Filipino forces days prior to Corregidor's fall from the heavy air bombardment of the Japanese in World War II.

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Malita Tunnel in Corregidor Island


Construction of the tunnel took about 10 years. Work was initially started in 1922 and it was substantially completed in 1932. The 835 feet long East-West passage served as the main tunnel which is 24 feet wide and the height at the top of its arch is 18 feet. Branching from it are; 

13 laterals on its north side and another 
11 laterals on the south side. 

Each lateral averaged 160 feet and 15 feet in length and width, respectively. A double-track electric trolley line used to run through the main tunnel which is reinforced with concrete walls, a concrete floor, and overhead arches. SOURCE.

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Light and Sound Show

Today, visitors can experience the thrills of Malinta Tunnel in the vividly staged Light and Sound Show called the “Malinta Experience.” Scripted by national artist and film director Lamberto Avellana and sculptures made by national artist Napoleon Abueva, the show is a re-enactment of World War II’s dramatic events. This show is optional part. You pay an extra amount.

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NIGHT TOUR OF MALINTA TUNNEL 
There is a special tour of the Malinta Tunnel which is not included during the regular day tour. It is a night tour which may be availed of only by those who remain overnight in Corregidor. This tour allows visitors to see for themselves the different laterals of the 1,000-bed capacity Fort Mills Hospital which was used during the siege of Corregidor.

This was similar to the special tour we were given, only that it was done during the day for us members of new media.
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It was a surreal experience and a scary one too. With this, and thanks to the clear and insightful narration of our guide, I got to imagine how it was in these dark confines during the last few days of the battle over the island. American and Filipino forces were not detected at first but when the Japanese found out that our forces were here, the fierce effort to capture them started. It must have been hell. Imagine the sound of missiles and dynamites bombarding the outside hills and the condition inside wherein hundreds of soldiers, doctors, nurses and the wounded were cramped inside in poor ventilation and barely no light at all.

The rocks inside the chambers were testament of how fierce it was inside. Many sections are dark in soot. Gunpowder, our guide told us. At one point, the Japanese ever resorted to pouring gasoline inside the chamber through vents that go through the hill and burned the forces inside.
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At present, only the main laterals are lighted, the rest are dark---pitch black. At one point of the tour, our guide asked us to turn off our individual flashlights all at once and lay completely quite. The silence was deafening and the darkness was nothing I experienced before. That after her narrated how some tourists experience seeing souls/ghosts while going through the laterals.

I never felt this thankful I don't have third eye ( if it's ever true) coz I never felt any spirit lurking around or saw any ghost for that matter. Even so, I felt verrrrrry afraid at that moment I immediately closed my eye. The anticipation of my other senses playing tricks at me though almost scared me to death. It almost felt like I was alone in a dark confine.
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Another interesting story is when the American went back years later to capture back Corregidor Island. The Japanese forces also used Malinta Tunnel as a stronghold and the Americans had to struggle to flush out the enemies from the tunnel. The Americans also used the same tactics employed to them before. They also flushed gasoline into the air vents from above the hill and burned the Japanese inside. Imagine hell inside the tunnel. The horror.

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And I know now why it took me so long to write about this. I usually blog at night and recalling the events as narrated by our guide scares me that I put off writing again and again. Other stories such as the escape of top generals of the US Military and the decision of then President of the Philippine Commonwealth Manuel L. Quezon. to stay behind you have to discover when you visit Malinta Tunnel. This is not to be missed when touring Corregidor Island. ^^

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