I was checking my files the other day and found old photos taken in the process of my writing the “Liberation of Cebu” special report for The Freeman newspaper in the middle ’90s. I was particularly drawn to the shots taken of a tunnel in Banawa, Barangay Guadalupe in Cebu City. It is located not far from the corner of V. Rama and M. Velez Sts., just across the cockpit. The lot is reportedly owned by the Gullases, who constructed a high wall in their property that effectively hid the historic site. The opening shown in the top photo is now covered by the wall.
I have long criticized government’s neglect of historic sites like this one. The tunnel was supposedly used as a hospital by the occupying Japanese forces, the reason why unlike other underground shelters this one is well built. The chambers were spacious and it even had what looked like an upper floor. The other opening still had an intact iron grill used as door. What was hair raising, however, was the chamber directly below what seemed like the septic tank of the house above the tunnel. I saw thousands of cockroaches there.
I actually find many potentials in the tunnel. Instead of forgetting about it and allowing it to crumble with time, government should have transformed the tunnel into a museum or included as a heritage site for tourists to visit. Government can refurbish the place and make it look like the hospital that it was during World War II. With that, the tunnel can be part of an educational tour for students.
There are a number of options that government can choose for the tunnel, that is if it intends to put it to good use. If not, sayang.
–Candido O. Wenceslao, 1 August 2007