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Timichegtunnel in Belgium Named After an Igorot

The Timichegtunnel in Ghent, Belgium, is a tunnel named after Timicheg, an Igorot man from the Philippines who died during the 1913 World's Fair.

 |  7 min read

The Timichegtunnel in Ghent, Belgium, named after Timicheg, an Igorot man from the Philippines who died during the 1913 World's Fair, is a symbol of hope and reminder of the importance of respecting cultural diversity and human rights.

In the heart of Belgium, beneath the busy Ghent St. Pieters train station, lies a unique tunnel known as the Timichegtunnel. But why does this tunnel carry such a distinctive name? To understand this, we need to journey back in time and explore the life of Timicheg, an Igorot man whose story connects two distant worlds.

The Timichegtunnel isn't just another underground passage; it's a symbol of remembrance and recognition. In this article, we will unravel the tale of Timicheg, his role in the 1913 Ghent World's Fair, and the significance of the tunnel that now bears his name.

This story is about more than just a tunnel; it's a tribute to a man who made an impact far from his homeland. So, let's delve into Timicheg's remarkable journey and discover how his legacy lives on through the Timichegtunnel.

Timicheg: An Igorot's Journey and "Human Zoo" Experience

Timicheg's story begins in the mountains of the Philippines, where he was born into the Igorot community. His life was rooted in the traditions of his people.

Timicheg, an Igorot man from Bontoc in the Philippines

In 1913, the world's attention shifted to Ghent, Belgium, as it hosted the Ghent World's Fair. This global event aimed to showcase different cultures and innovations. However, it had a dark side - the practice of displaying people in "human zoos."

Timicheg, along with 53 Filipinos from the Bontoc region, was part of the "Filipino Village" exhibit. They were presented as exotic curiosities for fairgoers to observe. This inclusion meant that Timicheg and others became unwilling participants in a dehumanizing spectacle.

Conditions were difficult, worsened by the language barrier and cultural differences. Timicheg, like many, endured suffering during his time at the fair.

His journey from the Philippines to Belgium was not a choice but a consequence of exploitative practices of that time.

The Ghent World's Fair of 1913 is a reminder of an era when the dignity and humanity of individuals from different cultures were disregarded for entertainment. Timicheg's story represents resilience in the face of adversity.

Timicheg's Tragic End and Legacy

Timicheg faced a difficult journey to Belgium, and his hardships didn't end there. Just a few months after arriving, he fell seriously ill with pneumonia and sadly passed away.

1913 International Exhibition Poster, Ghent, Belgium J. E. Goossens, Bruxelles

Life at the Ghent World's Fair was tough for Timicheg and the others from the Igorot community. They were far from home, and the conditions were challenging. The fair's displays treated them like curiosities, making them feel isolated and uncomfortable.

Despite these hardships, Timicheg's memory lives on through the Timichegtunnel in Ghent. It's more than just a tunnel; it's a way to honor Timicheg and the others who went through similar struggles at the fair.

The tunnel also reminds us of the importance of recognizing and respecting different cultures. It's a symbol of cultural recognition, saying that diversity should be celebrated without exploiting or degrading people.

For Igorot heritage, the tunnel is a symbol of strength, reminding us of the resilience of those who endured difficult times. It's a way to remember their history.

So, the Timichegtunnel isn't just a tunnel; it's a lasting legacy that ensures Timicheg's story is never forgotten and encourages us to appreciate the richness of diverse histories.

The Significance of the Timichegtunnel and Naming Resolution

The Timichegtunnel isn't just a tunnel; it's a symbol of historical and cultural recognition. Naming a tunnel after Timicheg carries deep significance, serving as a powerful reminder of the past and a celebration of cultural diversity.

Timichegtunnel in Ghent, Belgium

At its core, the Timichegtunnel stands as a tribute to Timicheg, an Igorot man who endured immense challenges during his time at the Ghent World's Fair. By naming the tunnel after him, Ghent pays homage to his resilience and acknowledges the suffering faced by those like Timicheg who were part of the fair's "human zoo" displays.

Moreover, the tunnel conveys a profound message about recognizing diverse histories. It tells us that history isn't just about grand events or famous figures; it's also about everyday individuals who played their part in shaping the world, even if their stories remained untold for many years.

The naming of the Timichegtunnel was not a random choice. In 2007, the Ghent City Council passed a resolution that paved the way for this commemoration. This resolution aimed to honor notable participants of the 1913 World's Fair, acknowledging the contributions and experiences of individuals like Timicheg.

Through this naming resolution, Ghent committed itself to remembering both the achievements and hardships of the fair's participants. It sought to balance celebration with commemoration, recognizing that history is a tapestry woven from both triumphs and tribulations.

In essence, the Timichegtunnel serves as a living testament to this resolution, a tangible reminder of the city's dedication to preserving diverse histories. It embodies the idea that every individual, regardless of their background, deserves recognition and respect.

As we travel through the Timichegtunnel, we pass not only through physical space but also through time, guided by the memory of Timicheg and the message of cultural diversity and historical commemoration that it represents.

Ambassador's Commendation and the Opening Ceremony

On May 5, 2011, Ghent's St. Pieter's Train Station hosted a significant event - the inauguration of the "Timichegtunnel," named after Igorot Timicheg. This tunnel, a result of the Ghent City Council's 2007 resolution, commemorates history and cultural diversity.

Inside Timichegtunnel

Ambassador Enrique Manalo, in his address, commended Ghent for its balanced approach - celebrating past achievements while remembering those who faced hardships during the 1913 Expo. The event brought together notable figures, including Ghent Mayor Daniel Termont, officials from transportation agencies, and private sector partners.

This event marked a significant step towards recognizing diverse histories, celebrating cultural heritage, and fostering a more inclusive and respectful future.


Q1: Why was the Timichegtunnel named after Timicheg? A: The Timichegtunnel was named in honor of Timicheg, an Igorot who participated in the 1913 Ghent World's Exhibition. It serves as a tribute to his memory and the recognition of his contribution.

Q2: What was the historical significance of the Ghent World's Exhibition in 1913? A: The 1913 Ghent World's Exhibition aimed to showcase different cultures and innovations. Unfortunately, it also featured the practice of displaying people in "human zoos," which Timicheg was a part of.

Q3: How did Timicheg end up in Belgium for the 1913 World's Fair? A: Timicheg and 53 other Filipinos from the Bontoc region were brought to Belgium as part of the "Filipino Village" exhibit, where they were displayed as exotic curiosities.

Q4: What challenges did Timicheg and others face during their time at the Ghent World's Fair? A: Timicheg and his companions faced language barriers, cultural disparities, and difficult living conditions during their time at the fair, making it a challenging experience.

Q5: Why is the Timichegtunnel significant beyond its infrastructure role? A: The Timichegtunnel is significant because it represents a positive symbol of recognizing cultural diversity and commemorating historical events, such as the Ghent World's Exhibition.

Q6: What was the Ghent City Council's resolution in 2007 related to the tunnel's naming? A: The Ghent City Council's resolution in 2007 aimed to honor notable participants of the 1913 World's Fair, including Timicheg, by naming streets and tunnels after them.

Q7: When was the Timichegtunnel officially opened? A: The Timichegtunnel was officially opened on May 5, 2011, during a ribbon-cutting ceremony led by Philippine Ambassador Enrique Manalo.

Q8: How does the Timichegtunnel fit into the broader infrastructure development plan of the Ghent St. Pieters train station? A: The Timichegtunnel plays a vital role in connecting the Ghent St. Pieters train station to the city center and beyond, improving transportation and accessibility.

Q9: What is the lasting legacy of Timicheg and the Timichegtunnel? A: Timicheg's legacy is a reminder of the resilience of those who faced adversity. The Timichegtunnel serves as a lasting tribute to his memory and the importance of cultural recognition.

Q10: What message does the Timichegtunnel convey to the international community? A: The Timichegtunnel conveys a message of recognizing human-centered development and celebrating cultural diversity through non-exploitative means, serving as a positive symbol for the international community.


Timicheg's journey, marked by adversity and resilience, lives on through the Timichegtunnel. This tunnel, named in his honor, stands as a powerful symbol of the past and a celebration of cultural diversity. It reminds us of the importance of recognizing diverse histories and honoring those who have left a lasting legacy.

As we pass through the Timichegtunnel, we are invited to reflect on the profound impact of individuals like Timicheg and the enduring message of cultural inclusivity. In remembering the past, we pave the way for a more respectful and inclusive future.

May Timicheg's legacy continue to inspire us to embrace the richness of diverse histories and the enduring spirit of those who shape them.

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