Spanish-Era Water Reservoir in San Juan Reopening to Public in August

El Deposito
Tourism San Juan/Facebook

Editor’s note: Due to “Modified Enhanced Community Quarantine” restrictions, the reopening date has been pushed back to Nov. 30.

MANILA, Philippines — The Spanish-era water reservoir El Deposito in San Juan City will reopen to the public Aug. 30.

The announcement was made through Facebook by the City Tourism and Cultural Affairs Office of San Juan City. “Do you want to explore one of the greatest and oldest underground water reservoir in the world? You do not need to travel far, because El Deposito is located in the heart of Metro Manila, only here in San Juan City,” posted San Juan’s tourism office.

The city’s tourism division also wrote that there are no guided tours at the moment, but visitors can book in advance for a group tour, which should consist only of 6–10 persons.

The planned reopening is subject to the health and safety protocols of the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases.

El Deposito was built by the Spaniards from 1878 to 1882; it was designed by an architect and engineer named Genaro Palacios. Palacios used the Marikina River as a water source.

During the Philippine Revolution in 1896–1898, Andres Bonifacio and other “Katipuneros” attempted to capture El Deposito to cut Intramuros’ water supply.

When the Battle of San Juan del Monte took place in 1896, the Spaniards, by all accounts, withdrew to the nearby building of El Deposito.

To commemorate the said battle, the Pinaglabanan Shrine was built on top of the reservoir in 1973.

El Deposito has already stood the test of time. During the American and Japanese occupations, it was used as an armory, a hospital, a bunker and a firing range.

In 2016, the University of the Philippines Archaeological Studies Program conducted an assessment of the said historical site and began the excavation.

Two years later, the National Historical Commission of the Philippines performed cleaning of the tunnels. It was set to reopen in 2020 but was derailed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

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