26
Jan
08

Watchtowers and fortifications of southern Cebu

Over a stretch of about 95 kilometers—from Carcar to the north to Samboan to the south—a string of watchtowers and fortifications were built in the early 19th century (1802-1815). A good number of these fortifications were constructed at the initiative of Fray Julian Bermejo, an Augustinian, who was assigned to the town of Boljoon and later became the provincial superior of the Augustinians. Fray Julian’s first move was to rebuild Boljoon, which was devastated by a seaborne attack in the 1790s. Fray Julian fortified Boljoon, built a watchtower on a hill beside the church. This watchtower was the lynchpin in Fray Julian’s ingenious warning system. From Boljoon, Fray Julian added coastal watchtowers that would deliver a warning should raiders be seen approaching a town. 

HHe also organized an armada of native vessels, manned by a volunteer militia drawn from the townspeople. Fray Julian’s armada scoured a decisive victory over the raiders off Sumilon Island in 1815. From then on, south Cebu was free from attacks. Fray Julian’s successors added more watchtowers to his system.

A number of these watchtowers still survive in different degrees of degradation. Almost all are abandoned and some are overgrown with vegetation 

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