Sep 2, 2019

A historic wartime tunnel used by the Japanese during World War II will soon become a museum. Located in Sitio Sampaloc, Tarlac, the Onishi Shrine is slowly being developed into a museum that teaches children about the events of World War II.

The owner, Louie Balceda, hopes to establish a tutorial for school children within the area. In line with this, an 8-seat hut surrounded by large speakers has already been set up near the communications tunnel. The tunnel is 50 meters long, and leads to a reservoir that is 66 meters deep.

“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,” says Balceda.

The Onishi Shrine was the communications office and naval headquarters for the Japanese Imperial Army during World War II. Reports and military orders from the Japanese were transmitted from the tunnel, manned by tsushintai (signal force) personnel. The tunnel was located underneath two mountains called Kambal a Bunduk, evading detection from Filipino guerrillas and American soldiers.

The tunnel was named after Vice Admiral Takijiro Onishi, who was known as the father of the kamikaze. Upon the announcement of the Japanese’s defeat in 1945, Onishi took his own life and left behind a poem stating that he was responsible for the deaths of the kamikaze pilots.

A shrine dedicated to Onishi and the Japanese soldiers from the First and Second Air Fleet was set up in 2001, after a meeting between Rhonie de la Cruz, curator of the Bamban Historical Museum; and Moji Chikanori, Onishi’s former aide.


Header image courtesy of Flickr

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TAGS: nolisoli Onishi Shrine World War II