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Sunday, August 9, 2020

The Secret Tunnels of Intramuros


In war documentaries, we learned of secret passages and elaborate tunnels that lead to recuperating stations and meeting spots for soldiers during wartime.

Fort Santiago, Intramuros Tunnel
Image: wheninmanila

Little do we know, this outlandish yet elaborate tactic is closer to home than we realized. To escape Spanish inquisitors and relish, friars, nuns, and freedom fighters are serviced by a system of hidden tunnels beneath the rigid walls of Intramuros.

Fort Santiago, Intramuros Tunnel
Image: Amyscrypt

Recently discovered, these tunnels are one for the history books. It was said that within these tunnels, secret romantic relationships were convened. Given the pledge of abstinence of priests, this was shocking. Although, this was a point of contention between historians since there were conflicting accounts of what happened in those tunnels.


The validity of the system of passages came from the archaeological discovery of Dr. E. Arsenio Manuel and Professor H. Otley Beyer of skeletal remains of an adult and a child in the ruins of San Ignacio Church after being contacted by a contractor named Victor Lednicky of a gaping hole sealed by rubbles.

Ghost Walk Intramuros
Image: ABSCBN News
As they approached deeper down the hole, they realized that inside was flooded. Manuel pushed through and made the effort to take note of their discoveries. He estimated that the tunnel was six feet high and four feet wide with an arched ceiling made of bricks.


The remains they discovered was intact despite being irretrievable (except with the femur, the skull, and the jawbone). Their exploration came to a halt after realizing the rise of floodwater as they went along, and the presence of venomous creatures became too alarming. However, Manuel made a noteworthy feature of the tunnel; Five meters ahead was a passageway split into two. This study along with some accounts from locals made the publishing of a paper titled Subterranean Structures in Intramuros possible.

Fort Santiago, Intramuros Tunnel

A grimmer interpretation of the system of tunnels was given by the historian Jose Victor Torres. He hypothesized that these underground tunnels are not convening passages but are crypt since 204 niches were uncovered in the 1980s inscribed with the phrase: “Remains of Priests and Brothers”. Understandably, the discovery of remains by Manuel and Beyer was suggestive of his case.

Adding fuel to the fire, no follow-up attempts were made by the archaeologist to revisit the tunnels. There was also no concrete evidence of a connection between the underground tunnels of Intramuros and what was found beneath the ruins of San Ignacio Church (and other nearby churches for that matter). For whichever case is true, these holes hold historical authenticity and merits preservation. Presently, these tunnels were made available for public viewing.

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Written By Joshua Rodriguez, IFY Books


Greetings fellow book and pop-culture enthusiast! I am your average young adult that loves to read science fiction (SF), general fiction and occasionally, young adult novels and children’s literature. At my spare time you may find me watching Star Trek and Doctor Who or updating my library with the latest shows from streaming giants such as Netflix and Hulu. I devote most of my time in learning, critiquing, and researching. If you want to know more, go check out my reviews!

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