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Exploring the Ilagan City Japanese Tunnel

I didn't know we had this in Isabela, until I saw geotagged pictures of it while browsing on Instagram one day. This is the Ilagan Japanese Tunnel located at Brgy. Sto Tomas, Ilagan City, Isabela. It is designed as an eco-tourism attraction and is being managed and maintained by the city government.

According to one of the tour guides we talked to during our visit, the tunnel was just recently rehabilitated, after a strong typhoon in the province (Lawin) exposed some parts of it. Before being opened as a tourist attraction, the tunnel was prone to being vandalized and being dug in hopes of finding precious artifacts from the war era.

The main attraction of the site, of course, is the actual war tunnel that was made during the Japanese occupation period. Cameras are not allowed inside, but a regular entrance fee (P50.00) will already let you check the accessible parts of the tunnel that's about 40 meters long. The tunnel goes on but we were told that it's already too risky to explore or restore because of possible collapse of these inaccessible areas. The tunnel is also directly below a cemetery, so there's also that.

A tour guide can accompany you to explain the different chambers of the tunnel and to show you the actual artifacts like guns, ammunition and bombs that were discovered in the very tunnels. Some elements were also added as attractions like Japanese treasure replicas and life-size diorama illustrating the historical significance of the place. The tunnel was made by the Japanese army's Filipino detainees (mostly Ilagan locals) and was used by the Japanese to detain and torture Filipinos and store treasures and ammunition.

The insides of the tunnel may show the horrors of war, but it's all bright and sunny outside. In fact, the park also offers kimono rentals for those who'd like to have pictorials with the Japanese-inspired installations.

But of course, there are still reminders of what this historical site is really meant to be a remembrance of.

For more information, you may contact Ilagan City's Tourism Information and Assistance Center, or check out their official Facebook page at www.facebook.com/ilaganjapanesetunnel