The Secret Tunnels of Fort Bonifacio


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Fort Bonifacio is the epitome of modernity. This busy megacity, touted as the Philippines’ next business capital, is home not only to multinationals and embassies, but also trendy clubs, restaurants, and glamorous boutiques. It is poised to grow even further, thanks to an infusion of investment from the country’s largest real estate developer, Megaworld Corporation. The company will be pouring billions of pesos into townships that include residential, corporate, and commercial districts.

It’s amazing to think that underneath the skyscrapers and sidewalks lies an underground labyrinth of mysterious tunnels. These tunnels, which are located near Megaworld at the Fort properties, tie today’s city to one of the most exciting times in the country’s military history.

A bit of history

While urban legend says that General Douglas MacArthur ordered the construction of the tunnels as a bomb shelter during the Second World War, the tunnels were actually built much earlier. Construction began in 1910, about the same time the Americans began building Fort McKinley. The area served as the American’s military headquarters, with the tunnel used as the main supply depot of the north and southern operations of the US forces against the Filipino revolutionaries.

Changing of hands

In the 1940s, the height of the Second World War, the Japanese seized control of the fort. By 1942, they had occupied Manila.  The Japanese renamed Fort McKinley “Sakura Heiei” and made it the headquarters for its most important military officials, including the famous Japanese commander Gen. Tomoyuki Yamashita.

The Japanese renamed Fort McKinley “Sakura Heiei”.

 

As we know from our history classes, the Allied forces were eventually able to drive away the Japanese. The military fort, which had been under the Americans and the Japanese, was finally turned over to the Philippine government. It was renamed Fort Andres Bonifacio, after our fiercely patriotic hero–an ironic yet fitting development, considering its original purpose was to keep Filipino revolutionaries in check.

To this day, the area proudly carries Bonifacio’s name, though all traces of its military past has given way to commercial development. Originally, the tunnel had 32 chambers and two exits that led to what is now Barangay Pembo and Barangay East Rembo. It was even part of a tourist attraction, connected to the old Philippine Army Museum and Library (PAML).

However, In 1994, the fort was privatized and transformed into a Central Business District. The PAML was relocated and the tunnels were officially closed to the public.

However, some urban adventurers still like to look for the old tunnels, even if the known entrances are hidden at the end of forgotten alleys. Though some sections have collapsed, about 730 meters underneath C5 have remained intact.

Hidden passages

The most famous entrance is across C5, beside Market! Market! at the eastern side of Fort Bonifacio. This is the former location of the PAML museum. You’ll see three roads: the C5 ‘on’ ramp, the C5 ‘off’ ramp and the newer Flyover. At the fork, you’ll find a small depression just above the C5 embankment, and right on it, a nondescript concrete platform with a steel plate on one side. Hundreds of people drive by this spot every day, but behind that heavy plate is a dark tunnel that reaches back into our history.

“We want to dedicate these to the unsung Filipino liberators who fought to their last breath against Japanese invasion during the World War II.” – Col. Arnulfo Marcelo Burgos Jr., Army Public Affairs Head

 

Another tunnel entrance can be found on East Rembo, which is near the end of 27th Avenue. The entrance is hidden by small, simple houses clustered by small alleys and footpaths. To get into this tunnel, you will have to ask the locals to guide you to an apartment. One adventurer lucky enough to meet the owner–a kind grandmother– was able to convince her to let him in her backyard, where the tunnel entrance (which seems to have been cut out of a hillside) is hidden behind corrugated metal sheets.

The third tunnel entrance is on Amanpola Street, but it is now completely sealed off because of the construction of a new house. That entrance was built into a slope, now blocked by one of the house’s bathroom walls.

The fourth entrance is on Morning Glory Street. It is open, and even has a set of steps that lead to C5. You can walk in, though the silt floor is soft and unfortunately littered with garbage.

It is sad that such a rich part of the country’s history has been forgotten, though the Philippine Army has plans of reopening the tunnels as a heritage site. “We want to dedicate these to the unsung Filipino liberators who fought to their last breath against Japanese invasion during the World War II,” says Col. Arnulfo Marcelo Burgos Jr., Army public affairs head and spokesman, “and honor our unsung heroes who sacrificed their lives in pursuit of our independence.”

Until then, the tunnels wait underneath Fort Bonifacio, holding its secrets as it has for over a century. These add another layer of interest to an area that is already known for being multi-faceted and dynamic. Yes, we are marching into the future–but we are bringing our history with us.

 

Nicole Adarme

Author: Nicole Adarme

Google+: +Nicole_Adarme
Nicole is the staff head of Marketing Communications for Megaworld at the Fort. She handles brand strategy, concept development, and media and press relationship management. She is a political science graduate from McGill University in Montreal, Canada, and is an avid language enthusiast. She speaks English, French, Mandarin and Tagalog, having spent time immersed in these corresponding cultures. She is also a classically trained ballerina who enjoys world travel and epic movies.


36 comments on “The Secret Tunnels of Fort Bonifacio

  1. Carlos B. Dongor

    I’ve heard of such tunnels but despite the fact that I graduated at the Philippine Merchant Marine Academy then in Fort Bonifacio, I never had the chance to see the exact locations of these tunnels or at least the entrances. It’s disheartening to know that such important part of our history lies neglected especially with the presence of garbage. Bring it back to life like what Bonifacio Global City is like!!!

    1. Adventurer

      It’s true bro the tunnel exist. When we were kids we used to go to this tunnel and explore it. The route we always choose is from the Market-Market Entrance exiting at Amapola St. Inside you’ll fine old equipment such as lamps and old canned goods. I hope they can fix it again because the inside of the tunnel is a bit flooded about waist deep. BTW there’s an old person living in the tunnels I don’t know if he’s still alive but back when we use to explore the tunnels he always chased us out.

      1. melvin

        we use to explore some of that tunnel when i was in elementary days… we use the entrance located somewhere in Mini Park (that is our access path) using only our improvised flashlight (candle inside a milk can)

  2. Annie Nacion

    This must be preserved. One great tourist attraction, local and foreign. Underneath a modern city is a proof of Filipino’s bravery for the love of freedom.

  3. Vee A. Natividad

    Amazing! this is the right time to unveil it to the present generation. What is the truth behind this tunnel, the young generation should know and time to respect the rich history of our Philippine nation…. Mabuhay!

  4. Clement Yumul Jr

    That is really something we have to preserve. That’s our history right there.

    I look forward to see my son visit the tunnels on their future “field trips”..

    These are nice facts.. I honestly didn’t know, though I leave nearby. I thought these tunnels are only dug somewhere outside metro manila..

  5. Israel Fetisan

    I remember when i was young, me and my friends always have a walking trip every Saturday and Sunday anywhere around Fort Bonifacio starting from the place where you can play some seesaw the ” Children’s Park” . Walking alongside the residential area which i believe, majority of the people are Military Personnel. There is a road going to St. Michael’s Church, Peptoc,PMMA, commissary , and the entrance of the “hidden tunnel” which you will pay for 5 pesos during that time. We also called that place Target Range, there is an old tank displayed near the house and other military equipment. Also if you go to what they called TORE along Blk. 9 West Rembo you can see one tower there, approximately 25-30 ft in height, the other tower was already destroyed near the PPSC gate 1. Just Sharing my memories. Thank you…

    1. melvin

      yung tore is memorable, yung mga matatapang (guts) eh inaakyat yung itaas nyan, accesible pa sya dati nung di pa sira ang ladder up to the top

  6. John Ray Sescon

    I have been in the tunnel many times when i was a kid. In the musuem you will pay only two pesos for the entance and you must bring a flashlight in case of brownout.

  7. John atilano

    If you believed on its historical significant it is just proper that we preserve this as a public property. Under the supervision of the Philippine national institute if there is such. Come to think of it. If this was Fort Santiago, intramuros or Corregidor it can never be sold to any private entity. This is a tunnel that Juan de la cruz must discover. senate inquiry in the making for proper disposition in the interest of preserving national heritage.

    1. Antonio S. Tan, Jr

      Yes you are damn right these should not be sold to any private corporations but the former fucking president Ramos sold this, an got the money. we used to do our ROTC formation at this site and we know that there is a tunnel under that areas.

  8. Bodik Baniqued

    This is tragic when we talk about our history… other countries have managed to blend development while preserving their culture and anything that reflect their history. Rehabilitating or making considerations to open it to the public should not be an issue today nor we should not be talking about it even at the moment had our leaders and those involved in the sale of The Fort included the preservation of such.
    It is now known as “The Fort” and yet nothing ever exists there except for what is under to remind us that it really used to be a military Fort. The numerous Acacia Trees which were planted alongside those in Forbes Park, the General Hospital (which could have been a perfect venue for cafes and old style restaurants) and other Historic Structures should have been preserved and should have been part of the development plan of the BCDA (being a Development Authority as they claim it). Now we are dying hard to maintain and plant new trees instead of just preserving what used to be there…

    I am happy that a mall is just a few minutes walk away from my place, where I was born – from one of the Fort Bonifacio “EMBO” villages but it is in some way serving as a monument of greed where it was too easy for us to SACRIFICE History in place of development.

    I appreciate the author for having mentioned that a future undertaking may be on its way for these HISTORIC Tunnels. At least there is still something left, a glimmer of hope for us who saw what and how it was to be in the “REAL” Fort Bonifacio.

    1. Lourdes Labarcon

      agree w/ you mr.baniqued…i also miss the acacias & quiet rolling golf courses at the fort…i cried when i saw the camp being bulldozed & excavated…but that is progress. unfortunately, the developers chose to forget its history.

  9. Mark Anthony

    When i was In High School @ Fort Bonifacio my classmate at i Went there it a great place i thinks its almost 20 feet under before u reach the underground they say that there a way going to Villiamor Airbase and to malacanang palace

  10. richard guitering

    2 beses ako nakapasok dyan sa tunnel na yan at lumabas kami nung kasama ko na sundalo sa 27th avenue sa East Rembo at pati yung lagusan sa Pembo. Naalala ko pa nun na ang lamig ng hangin hababg bumababa kami sa hagdan na madulas nung tunnel. Meron dins imbakan ng mga ahas dun noon eh. Puro ingay talaga ng ahas ang maririnig dun. Kakatakot nga eh. Buti na lang at naranasan kong pasukin ang tunnel na Fort Bonifacio. Sa ilalim ng museum ang hagdan na binabaan namin nun. Pati yung mga naka display na tangke at napasok ko nun at nakapaglaro ako nun noong bata pa ko. Salamat sa mabait na sundalong nagbabantay nun at pinapasok nya kami nung kaibigan ko noon.

  11. Joey Mallari

    Nice to know about this…the question now is… now what? It would be really great to have this preserved, but who’s going to spearhead this? Will the current landowners give way? Will the national historical institute step in? How does MWI view this significant piece if information? #2cents

    1. Althea Floresca

      what i know about Fort Bonifacio in Taguig is that, the AFP plans to make this site a training ground or modernization of AFP. We really need a training ground for our soldiers for them to be effective but now, that plan did not push through because someone sold that property to private firms. So sad!

  12. Melonna Polero-Madrazo

    ..My hometown..Fort Bonifacio… I remember kasama ko Father ko na pumasok jn during Open House of Philippine Army Museum and Library…we enjoyed s pagsakay sa mga tangke n naka display n dun and even the said tunnel pinasok nmin yn…even my high school friends and classmates jan kami ngpupunta at namamasyal…we used to call din ung place na Peftok…I reaaly missed that place heheheh kc paglabas mo amoy lupa k ..meron pang malaking balon dun na sabi nila my inihulog na malaking ahas kaya ngkakatakutan pg bumamaba s makitid at matarik na hagdan pababa ng tunnel with matching tourguide na sundalo na magkukuwento samin ng mga history ng tunnel…..ung isang lagusan nasa tabi mismo ng bahay ng aking Ninang Arlene…. kaya nalulungkot me na di na cy mapapasyalan ng mga anak ko ngayon dahil madalas kong ikuwento sa kanila yang Tunnel na yan….Missed those days ^_^

  13. randy m abella

    Yes this is true and indeed the entrance fee before is 0.25cents/pax heavy lighted and developed by Phil Army And on the gate/entrance going down to this a.l.a. Coliseum with hundreds of steps there is a Guardhouse and Old American Barracks (Lumang Bahay ng Sundalo) we could that placed before Stop-House when you pay fare to the Jeepney driver.

  14. thea sayam

    I grew up at Fort Bonifacio, Me and my friends had the privilaged to go to the tunnel almost once a week, its a safe haven for us and I do recall they did a scene for a movie there, just not sure what movie it was. Even if it rained so hard there we never saw any floods on the dirt below. it is truelly facinating and amazing that it was built so deep below. We heard stories before that, the reason why it was dugged was beacuse Yamashita had burried one of this known treasures there. We the kids of Fort Bonifacio, specially those who grew up on the streets of Mc Arthur Ave. knows how amazing the “Fort Bonifacio Tunnel” is.

  15. Slumber

    Hi there!ijust want to share my memories when i was in grade 6we use to go there at the tunnel after classes and explore those dark n cold tunnels as far as i can remember there were different sizes of tunnels n the one was called triplets because it is too small to pass n there is 3opening holes well get inside n pass out at the minipark where you can see all the green leafy plants sorounding the park. memories in fort bonifacio will never be forgotten.

  16. Angela S

    This Tunnel is not actually secret you can find entrance at the back of PAML museum, camp kasi sya ng mga sundalo so hindi pede basta basta pumasok. My dad is soldier and was assigned here before kaya I’ve been here in this tunnel nung bata pa ko.

    1. Froilan sales

      They should restore, rehabilitate, preserve, conserve and protect such heritage site with rich historical value….

    2. hydz

      I remember that was my first gala mode when I was elementary and highschool,because me and my classmates before we had meeting for our project but instead of meeting we went there just to explore that tunnel and there also old man wearing military uniform was been there that time he accompanied us under that tunnel but we ddint reach the end coz its very dark and he said not good for us because there living snake also that is my first experience,were so lucky we reach there before when c5 road not been develop..

  17. zye1415

    My grandfather was one of the soldiers who used this bomb shelter. From one of his stories, he said that there’s one tunnel leading to pasig river too. I heard that there’s also an entrance in a public school somewhere in Signal but this tunnel is filled with garbage and stagnant water and also there are ghosts. Haha

  18. Rosa D. Hernandez

    Must be preserved like the Cu Chi Tunnel in Vietnam Republic, this will be one of the most tourist attraction here in the Philippines.

  19. Rafael Estillero

    angela s,,, secrete tunnel po xa nung panahon ng mga hapon,, oo tama k, now ndi n xa secrete kce museum n,, kahit cno pde pumasok,, pinag tataka ko lng bkit ang global o the fort e sakop ng taguig,, marami nakaka alam ang peptok o PALM ay makati area o golf course,, isang malaking katanungan para sakin

  20. rod of 21st st

    these were not secret tunnels if you live at Fort Bonifacio area, way back 1980’s to 1990’s everyone can go there (if you are an adventurous and brave little kid), kaming mga batang gala ng 21st St. inaakyat namin yung “TORE” don’t know kung ayaos pa din yun, back in the old days ang lugar na yan ang takbuhan, playground, sumpakan (with smile on my face), at adventure tripping naming mga kabataan those times, if you are brave enough pwede kang pumasok sa loob ng mga tunnels, un nga lang sa sobrang nakakatakot (at pagtatakutan) dahil daw sa ahas? sa multo? at mga engkanto mapapatakbo na lang kami sa takot, i clearly remembered na muntik na kami mawala dyan at hindi makalabas dahil sa exploration namin ng tunnel, sometimes pa nga maririnig mo yung mga gunshot fires pag nagpapraktis yung mga sundalo, those were realy precious happy times during my childhood, sana lang wag masira yung mga tunnels coz it is really part of metro manila’s history and military’s history in the Philippines.

  21. Plan Cul 84

    I was recommended this blog by my cousin. I’m now not sure whether this post is written by means of
    him as nobody else know such particular about my difficulty.
    You are wonderful! Thank you!

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