Thursday, August 30, 2012

A new and exciting find: the 1910 Fort
Bonifacio War Tunnel. A new way of adventure
showing the country's glorious past.
Beneath BGC: 
Our History Underneath 
Our Daily Lives.

Written & Photographed by JUN REYNALES.

Bonifacio Global City, Taguig City, Philippines, August 28, 2012 – Very few people today knows about its existence underneath their busy lives. Memories of those gallant years of our historic past have long been forgotten.

It’s now back to life.
Ms. Lani B. Macasaet, PR Director of BCDA, showed
the way down the historic tunnel in BGC Taguig City.

The story of my adventure brings back few months before when I stumbled upon a small trivial information, often overlooked, on the existince of an old historical war tunnel that runs across the street of C-5 (also known as C.P. Garcia Avenue), that intersect between Makati and Taguig Cities. Wasting no time, I hastily gathered connections for the right people to bring me to work with this project – from the Dept. of National Defence, BCDA, and FBDC --  and after some time and patience, through phonecalls and meetings, finally got the good news: I am shooting the war tunnel.

Project: BENEATH BGC is a GO. YES! At last!

More than 70 steps/ 30meters
from the surface entrance.
Preparation for the actual shoot gave me the shivers. Both a sense of elation and fear of the unknown. A lot of "what-if’s" played around my mind, hardly slept, as I wondered what will be shown through my eyes and my lens in that dark cold and muddy tunnel. What lurks underneath that welcomes and devour me to darkness? Only then will I know. Hehe.

The romantic side of this 1910 War Tunnel’s history brings about the infancy age of our country. Call it -- Age of Innocence, if you may. It all began the days precursor of the Philippine Commonwealth, when our country was under the military advisory of the United States of America. Almost as old as the famous Malinta Tunnel in the Corregidor Island, perhaps with such equaled efforts of gallantry from the foregone years of wars and conflicts that affected our country, this tunnel have the right feeling, temperature and humidity of heroic sacrifices that must’ve run through the different lateral rooms and paths, now a silent reminder for us to discover.

Right-side main pathway of the war tunnel,
30 meters below C-5 Road.
With an average distance of 2.24 kilometers that ran the whole length of this historic tunnel, it also have 32 built-in chamber with almost a foot thick cement walls – probable use for armaments depots, quarters, and other needed facilities by our gallant forefathers. All under our current lives under 30 meters below the surface.

Only floodlights guides us in exploring
this war tunnel during the photoshoot.
Last World War II, it was captured by the Japanese Imperial Armed Forces, used and expanded its facilities, employed forced labor amongst the captured Filipinos and Taiwanese soldiers. The mid-70s had its shared frenzy during the supposed fabled Yamashita treasures, igniting the fires of the urban legend of those huge amount of gold being hauled underneath then military camp Fort Bonifacio. February 1989 was the last time visitors came and visited the tunnel – with the Philippines’ Defence Press Corp.

Optical illusion: clear water shows the whole depth
beyond 30feet water level.
Fast forward today: August 28, 2012 – with today’s opportunity, I was able to capture today’s actual condition, luckily as the first photographer to do it.

Stepping the steep 70-plus steps down the 30-meter historic tunnel, from a ubiquituous entrance covered with metal sheets (as currently guarded only by security personnel from the BGC), ducking low to a crawl, as not to accidentally slip down to oblivion. Through the efforts of BCDA, Phil. Army and FBDC, arrangements were made to assist me with armed security personnels (BCDA and Philippine Army, all brandishing semi-auto rifles), emergency medics (with O2 bottles and masks) a standby ambulance along the surface road.

Security personnel illuminates the dark lateral rooms
in order to capture photos. Clear water seepage from
tunnel ceilings floods some parts of the tunnel.
Like a small little boy eagerly excited to open his wrapped gift from one holiday,  every step I did, I observed the ruggedness of the tunnel ceilings as water seeps like droplets of rains, the water all over is very clear. The whole pathways of this tunnel are muddied and on the deep side still have deep clear water that probably levels beyond the safe zone for me and my camera. No problem, I have so much time observing – more of thinking how lives of our gallant herous of the byegone years lived here. How the forced labor prisoners both from the Philippines and Taiwan had suffered and must have executed to their demise in this cold tunnel of earth that’s part of our country’s history.

If these ceiling can tell the stories of
lives lost and herous stands of those
from the bye-gone years.
Now that I have unearthed the story back to life, I wished that the story be again told to the future generations of Filipinos. Hoping that one day, this raw tunnel that I had traversed and captured through my lens, will become one of the proudest place that every Filipino visits, as part of their identity and soul – as The Fort Bonifacio War Memorial Tunnel.

I look forward to go back and step deep further down... to understand more about this place.  Perhaps next time, with more people joining me, in appreciating lives then... to what is it to their lives now. A fitting reminder too that yesterday was the country’s celebration and remembrance to the National Herous’ Day.

Indeed... Life is Good! 


pro said...

A great find! Would definitely be interested in joining you should you want to 'delve deeper' into this historic place. Thanks for sharing :)

MEL said...

that was awesome,thanks for sharing!

darwin said...

wow, your photos are clearer, I was able to see the place last year and I was really amazed.

here's my post:

Chester Wycoco said...

now i'm so curious. count me in next time :)