Malinta Hill, Corregidor Island, 50km west of Manila.
|Classification:||World War II Bunker|
|As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
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|30-DEC-1941||Manuel L. Quezon inaugurated for his second term as President of the Philippine Commonwealth in front of the West entrance.|
|23-FEB-1945||Japanese soldiers commit suicide when island is retaken by the U.S. army.|
|1988||ferry service by Sun Cruises Inc. started.|
|16-MAY-2020||Sun Cruises Inc. closed.|
The Malinta Tunnel is a system of parallel straight tunnels connected by a 255m long main tunnel. This bunker was used as an underground hospital with a 1,000-bed capacity and a war command center. It is located on a small island called Corregidor, which lies in the entrance to Manila Bay and the harbour of the Philippine Capital Manila. The strategic position of this island nicknamed The Rock is obvious. Its name Corregidor is said to originate from Spanish times, when ships had to stop here before entering the bay, to get their documents corrected. The name Malinta is Tagalog for "many leeches".
Originally the abandoned quarry was reactivated by a public works project in 1922, only the Chief of Coastal Artillery knew it was intended as bomb proof storage for ammunition. Some of the tunnels were top secret, their existence was disguised by telling only the necessary workmen, which were blindfolded when they were brought to work. In 1932, in the dawn of World War II the works were boosted and the bunker completed. But its use had changed, it was now primarily a hospital.
From 1941 to 1942, during the Battle of Corregidor, an embattled force of Filipino and American soldiers fought one of the great delaying actions of World War II. On 30th December 1941 a simple and somewhat pathetic ceremony took place in front of the West entrance. Manuel L. Quezon was inaugurated for his second term as President of the Philippine Commonwealth, Sergio Osmeña for his second term as Vice-President. Malinta Tunnel served as the seat of Philippine Commonwealth Government, the president and his family had their quarters in a lateral beside the first lateral at the East entrance. General Douglas MacArthur acquired the third lateral from the East entrance on the North side, to set up the headquarters of USAFFE. The first lateral from the East entrance on the South side was the headquarters of the Harbor Defense Command under Major General George Moore. The place was safe, but with more than 4,000 occupants in tunnels which were not designed to quarter humans, the air was damp and poorly ventilated and morale was low. The people felt suffocated, helpless and trapped, being unable to fight.
On 06-MAY-1942 Japanese troops forced the surrender of Corregidor. At this time the island was under the command of Lt. Gen. Jonathan Wainwright. The remaining American and Filipino forces became prisoners of war. But in 1945 the island was re-taken by U.S. forces. Gunfire from USS Converse (DD-509) blocked the entrance of the tunnel and the Japanese soldiers were trapped. They committed suicide by detonating explosives within the tunnel complex in the night of 23-FEB-1945. The collapsed laterals have never been excavated, for not disturbing their remains as much as for still working booby traps they left. Beneath 500 or more Japanese bodies they might also contain a rumored fortune of Corregidor gold.
As a result the island is of great historic importance to Americans, Filipinos and Japanese. Nevertheless it was actually closed for many decades. Its not clear if it was a political decision, or just nobody was interested to see the island. At the end of the 1980s the whole island was purchased by a tourist company and is today privately owned. They restored the island, created war memorials and operate a multitude of trips to the island. The most popular are full day trips which start at your hotel and include pick up, boat ride, a guided tour of the island and the return. There are also organized overnight trips and basic boat rides where you organise anything on your own. The island has a hostel and a hotel today. While the owner and ferry operator Sun Cruises offered the trips on their own website only a few years ago, the website is now defunct. In May 2020 the operator closed down, so the tours are not offered any more. It unclear why they closed, probably a result of a lack of customers due to the Covid-19 pandemic. However, there are other operators who offer boat trips to the island.
Malinta Tunnel was developed into a tourist attraction, as part of the development of the whole island. Three different tours are possible at Malinta, the regular tour which is part of the day trip, the night tour which shows additional parts of the bunker, and a light and sound show called the Malinta Experience. Some parts of the tunnels are equipped with original beds, shelves and equipment. Other parts are used for art exhibitions.