So here is a detailed history of Malinta Tunnel from its construction to its role during the beginning of WWII in the Philippines as well as its liberation on 1945.
The metal doors closed behind us and the cold air and our voices echoed on this dark tunnel. For starters, The Malinta Tunnel derived its name from Malinta Hill, a 390-foot (120 m) rise through which its shaft is bored. Malinta is Tagalog for “many leeches”, linta being the local word for “leech”.
Here, we started with the construction even though it was not included in the historical tour itself.
“Its construction, without benefit of new equipment or funds apportioned by the United States Congress due to agreements reached during the Washington Naval Conference, began in 1932 and the main tunnel and 25 laterals were completed in 1934. Other construction on laterals continued right up to the start of the war.
The Army Corps of Engineers rented obsolete equipment from Baguio gold miners for a nominal fee and made do with condemned TNT from the Ordnance Department. The explosive delivered was in powder form, and had to be wrapped into makeshift cartridges using magazine pages, which were placed into holes drilled into the rock. Labor was provided by the Philippine Commonwealth in the form of 1,000 convicts from the Bilibid Prison in Manila. A company of engineers from the Philippine Scouts worked on the construction as foremen and clerks.
The cement for concrete used to line the tunnels was bought from the Japanese.
Battle of Corregidor
During the Battle of Corregidor, the third lateral on the north side from the east entrance served as the headquarters of General Douglas MacArthur and the USAFFE. Malinta Tunnel also served as the seat of government of the Commonwealth of the Philippines. At the vicinity of the tunnel’s west entrance in the afternoon of 30 December 1941, Manuel L. Quezon and Sergio Osmeña took their oaths of office as President and Vice-president of the Philippine Commonwealth in simple ceremonies attended by members of the garrison.
Japanese troops forced the surrender of the remaining American and Filipino forces on 6 May 1942 while under the command of Lt. Gen. Jonathan Wainwright.
Retaking of Corregidor
During the re-taking of the island by U.S. forces in 1945, Japanese soldiers who had been trapped in the tunnel after the entrance was blocked as a result of gunfire from USS Converse (DD-509) began committing suicide by detonating explosives within the tunnel complex the night of 23 February 1945. The collapsed laterals resulting from these explosions have never been excavated.”
So now while we were inside, we followed the trail of an audio-visual presented by National Artist Lamberto V. Avellana of events that occurred during World War II. We stopped on every other small tunnel or hallway and either watch or listen to what was happening during the that time in 1942. Some of its presentations were the evacuation of President Quezon and General MacArthur by Motor Torpedo Boat Squadron Three from Corregidor to Mindanao, and then to Australia.
Here is the link for more information: