Gov't to develop Fort Bonifacio tunnel into heritage site

By Alexis Romero, The Philippine Star

Posted at Sep 28 2012 07:54 AM | Updated as of Sep 28 2012 03:54 PM

MANILA, Philippines - Underneath C-5, on the eastern portion of Bonifacio Global City in Taguig, a tunnel 30 meters deep and 2.24 kilometers long is waiting to be restored.

The tunnel has 32 built-in chambers and two passable exits, one leading to Barangay Pembo and the other to Barangay East Remo.

Called the Fort Bonifacio War Tunnel, it was intended to serve as a stockroom during World War II, and was used to transport supplies. Most of the workers employed in the digging were Igorots from Baguio.

The Bases Conversion Development Authority (BCDA) might seek assistance from the private sector to develop the tunnel into a heritage site.

BCDA president and chief executive officer Arnel Casanova said the government has previously worked with the private sector in developing parks and monuments.

“We may tap the private sector for the project. There is a need to preserve the heritage and promote the history that once played a vital role in regaining our freedom and democracy,” he said.

Casanova said many developments in Bonifacio Global City in Taguig were undertaken with the help of private groups like the Bonifacio Arts Foundation.

The tunnel was first dug up in 1936, a year after the establishment of the Philippine Commonwealth.

Journalists yesterday toured the tunnel, which is now illuminated with orange lights. The tunnel’s floor was muddy and its walls were filled with graffiti.

Casanova said the conversion of the underground passageway into a heritage site would contribute to the country’s tourism industry.

He said the project would honor the sacrifices of Filipino soldiers and make the Philippines “a bastion of freedom and democracy in the whole of Asia.”

Casanova said the BCDA and other state agencies are now crafting the master plan that would detail how the tunnel would be developed.

"It should be able to generate revenues to sustain its maintenance," Casanova said, adding that construction work may begin next year or early 2014.