Philippines: A forgotten underground becomes a tourist site in Manila - The360 Travel

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  • Saturday, December 14, 2019

    Philippines: A forgotten underground becomes a tourist site in Manila

    Philippines: A forgotten underground becomes a tourist site in Manila

    In a damp underground of the Philippine capital Manila, workers are busy in the semi-darkness. Their goal: to transform this impressive century-old reservoir with vaulted ceilings and stone columns... into a tourist site.


    Only the sparks of the torches and the pale light of the neons installed on the walls come to illuminate the moist corridors of El Deposito, a vestige of the Spanish colonial era abandoned for decades.

    "This place has a colorful history that we Filipinos must appreciate and value, even after all these years," says AFP Kaye Oliveros, the site's curator.

    Built from volcanic rocks, this cave was completed 137 years ago. It could store 53 million liters of water, then piped to thousands of homes until the beginning of the 20th century.

    The Japanese army dried up the tunnels during the Second World War in order to store ammunition. And the United States destroyed El Deposito surface facilities when they took over the Philippines in 1945.

    The reservoir then fell into oblivion. It was turned into a landfill and then occupied by squatters. But a great cleaning was launched in 2016.

    The workers are currently working on the completion of a metal walkway that will welcome visitors when the site opens to the public, scheduled for February.

    The restoration comes as we approach the 500th anniversary, in 2021, of the arrival of explorer Fernand de Magellan. He had claimed the archipelago on behalf of Spain, who then ruled the Philippines for nearly 400 years.

    Before the creation of the reservoir, water was drawn from the river and delivered to the dwellings of the capital by porters equipped with large clay jars.

    "We still think that the Spaniards treated us badly at the time. But they gave us the means to provide Filipinos with clean water, "observes Kaye Oliveros.

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