Arts & Entertainment

This Underground World War II Tunnel Will Soon Be a Museum

The hideout was used by the Japanese in the 1940s.
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War has no winners, as the saying goes. An underground tunnel is testament to this: the Onishi Peace Shrine in Tarlac serves as a memorial for the fallen soldiers of World War II. The tunnel was used as a communications base by Japanese forces led by Vice Admiral Takijiro Onishi—known as the founder of the Kamikaze. While the site was set up as a shrine in the early 2000s, the tunnel is now being developed into a museum by its owner, Louie Balceda. You can find it in Sitio Panaisan, Barangay San Nicolas, Bamban, Tarlac.

"I am not too concerned that my surroundings may soon be occupied with buildings. If the community will soon host the New Clark City, I will retain a jungle around the tunnel. I plan to dress up tour guides as Japanese soldiers. We will have documentaries to show children what the war was all about," Balceda said in a report by Inquirer.net.

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The tunnel, which is 50 meters long and leads to a deep reservoir, will be set up as an area where kids can learn more about the World War II. There is already an 80-seater hut in the area, reports Inquirer.net. 

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In 1944, Japanese forces moved from the Nichols Air Base in Manila to the tunnel located under two mountains, aptly called Kambal a Bunduk, in Tarlac. All communication of the Japanese army originated from the men, called "tsushintai," who were working under extreme conditions in the tunnel. American troops were never able to locate this base. 

File photo of Vice Admiral Takijiro Onishi

Photo by WIKIMEDIA COMMONS.
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The tunnel's namesake, Vice Admiral Onishi, commited Seppuku—a Japanese suicide ritual—upon the announcement of Japanese defeat in 1945. He left behind a poem taking responsibility for the death of all the Kamikaze soldiers. 

The original Onishi Peace Shrine, which currently stands at the site, was born of a meeting between Onishi’s former aide, Moji Chikanori, and Rhonie de la Cruz, curator of the Bamban Historical Museum in 2001. Chikanori had reportedly asked only for flowers to be offered in the area for the war veterans, but a shrine was officialy set up to honor Japan's soldiers.

This story originally appeared on Spot.ph. Minor edits have been made by the Esquiremag.ph editors.

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Mia Rodriguez for Spot.ph
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