Travel Guides

A Trip Down to Isabela Province’s Memory Lane: The Ilagan Japanese War Tunnel

          The elders of the Philippine race have grimly chronicled their long and rumbling narratives about their experiences under the Japanese Occupation. A lot had suffered, and worst, died in the ways we could not imagine. But then, as centuries passed, wounds of the victims of the conflict between the two were healed, particularly that of the latter generations’. Filipinos have embraced their enthralling culture, the language, food and values to the point of dreaming a vacation in the dubbed as ‘Land of the Rising Sun’ of Asia. Since it has been welcomed in the Pearl of the Pacific, establishments that are Japanese-inspired such as restaurants and museums, started to emerge. Among these is the Japanese Tunnel located in Ilagan City, Isabela, Philippines that will make you travel back in time as you go through each and every step of the way inside the 40 meters long, 12 feet high and 12 feet wide restored Japanese War Tunnel.

          This Japanese Tunnel in Ilagan City in the province of Isabela has been opened to the public since February 16, 2016 through Mayor Josemarie L. Diaz. Considered as one of the historical and cultural heritages of the town, the tunnel was restored, rehabilitated and preserved by the City Government to give everyone, like students, historians, visitors and tourists, a taste of the Japanese traditional culture and a slice of information on how the Filipinos particularly the Ilagueños suffered in the hands of these hardened conquerors. This newly-opened attraction, which is open from 8:00am to 6:00pm, offers Instagram-worthy backgrounds and landscapes 360°. But, there’s more to this instagrammable spot in the North.

          According to Ms. Kris, the supervisor of the Ilagan Japanese Tunnel, it was established through the  combined efforts of the City Government of Ilagan, Tourism Office and the veterans who were able to live under the Japanese Occupation.

The Japanese War Tunnel
          People have mistaken it as a cave but it’s actually a man-made tunnel crafted in distress with sweat and blood of the detained Ilagueños. It served a lot of purposes such as a jail to the Filipino guerrillas during the war and a storage of hidden wealth.
          Apart from the showcased artifacts and dramatic and concrete manifestations of the plights of the Filipino captives, there are also replica and legit ammo, bells, treasures like gold bullion and golden images inside the tunnel donated by veterans, historians and enthusiasts.Tourists or visitors should be reminded that the use of camera inside the tunnel is strictly prohibited as well as touching the artifacts and the walls of the tunnel. There’s nothing to worry about the bullets and the bombs for they were diffused before they had it on display. They were in constant communication with the Philippine Army as regards these stuff.
How to get there?
>From the South (Manila, Santiago and Cauayan, Isabela), ride a bus or van on bound for Tuguegarao City; (take note that Ilagan City is a 10-hour drive from Manila) or,
>From Tuguegarao City, ride a bus or van bound for Santiago City.
>Alight at Ilagan City (drop-off point is somewhere around the Butaka
>Take a tricycle to Japanese Tunnel. Fare is at 40php/ride.
>Upon your arrival, pay an amount of 50php for the entrance fee.

Wearing of kimono
          OOTD isn’t a problem at all. They’ll let you wear those colorful kimonos for only 50php. They will also have your hair styled like those of traditional Japanese women. Worry not, though. This is optional. But then again, it’s something that you must and you would really want to try. Take note, it isn’t only for the women but also for men and kids! They’ll also let you carry around those cutie Japanese umbrellas. They’ll also let you eat the ramen at their Japanese restaurant wearing the kimono, too!

The Furin (Authentic Japanese Bells)
          Apart from the kimonos, another thing that you could try is that of wishing and ringing the bell by the well. You can buy these authentic Furin bells for 30php where they’ll have your name written onto it and have it hung near the well. Not yet tho! Before you tie its ribbon and have it hung, you should ring the bell at the well three times.

You may wanna check their Facebook page for more information and inquiries about the place:
Official Facebook Page: Ilagan Japanese Tunnel or contact them at +63935 701 1586.

You may also find more pictures on my Facebook page, The Queen’s Escape.

Arigato Gozaimasu!

Anne Elizabeth Gumiran, also known as Queenie, is a 20-something, full-time public school teacher, a part-time travel blogger and a freediver. She started putting her stories of adventures and misadventures into words and pictures in 2017 and continues to do so as she shares her advocacy, Sustainable Traveling.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *