Cuartel de Santo Domingo • Santa Rosa, Laguna

Built in 1877 by the Guardia Civil, Cuartel de Santo Domingo is a two-story barracks located inland between Santa Rosa and Cavite. Two important historical facts are implicated in the history of the Cuartel de Santo Domingo: first, the friar haciendas and, second, the Guardia Civil.The friar haciendas were bequests of the Spanish crown or of landed people to the religious orders as foundations or endowments for their works of education and charity. In the province of Laguna, the Dominican order, who run the schools San Juan de Letran and Santo Tomás University had the haciendas of Santa Rosa and Biñan/ Calamba and in the neighboring province of Cavite, the hacienda de Naic. In Laguna, the Jesuits had the hacienda de San Pedro (Tunasan), which was the endowment of San José Seminary. When the Jesuits were expelled from the Philippines, the Dominicans acquired San José and all its assets including the hacienda. Thus, the Dominicans held vast tracks of land in Laguna. They were an easy target for nationalist sentiments and for persons disenfranchised by their actuations, such as the Rizal family a long time overseer of the Dominican estates. They were summarily removed from their position. Although Santa Rosa where the cuartel is located was already explored by Juan de Salcedo in 1571, it did not become an independent town until the 18th century. Tabuco (now Cabuyao) was the first town established in this region of Lake Laguna and encompassed in its jurisdiction Biñan and Barrio Bukol, which in 1688 were separated as the independent town of Biñan. On 18 January 1792, Barrio Bukol was constituted as a town named after Santa Rosa de Lima of Peru. The choice of name was most likely influenced by the Dominicans as Santa Rosa was a Dominican nun. Santa Rosa does not appear in the Felix de Huerta’s roster of 19th century parishes and missions under the Franciscans, the order given general charge of Laguna province. This suggests that Santa Rosa was under the spiritual care of another religious group, the Dominicans, who had hacienda de Santo Domingo in Santa Rosa. The Guardia Civil (police force or gendarmerie) was established in the Spanish empire in 1844 during the reign of Isabela II and became an operational force in Spain in 1855. Not much later it was established in the Philippines. The local police was drawn from native Filipinos and was assigned both civil and military functions. While the Guardia Civil is much vilified in the popular mind because of their unflattering portrait in Jose Rizal’s novels, membership in the Guardia was a way for the locals to participate in the affairs of government. Among the troops that participated in the Spanish war against US were three regiments, numbers 20, 21, and 22, of the Guardia Civil. It consisted of 155 Spanish officials, and 3450 native soldiers.Cuartel de Santo Domingo, built within the boundaries of the Dominican hacienda, named Santo Domingo in the town of Santa Rosa de Lima, was constructed during a time of political uncertainty. Five years earlier, workers at the naval yard in Cavite rose in revolt. This resulted in the deportation of many prominent native leaders to the Marianas and the execution of others implicated in the revolt. Most prominent were the Filipino priests, Jose Burgos, Mariano Gomez and Jacinto Zamora. Although the Archbishop of Manila refused to de-frock them prior to execution as a sign that he did believe they were guilty, the execution continued. The “Cavite Revolt of 1872” as it has been called was the first incident that would fire a nationalistic spirit that would eventually lead to a clamor for independence and a revolution in 1896. Meanwhile, those who had run ins with the law, criminal, or those suspected “filibusteros” took refuge in the forested hills of Cavite, in the towns of Silang, Tagaytay and so forth. Cavite was immediately south of Manila and west of Santa Rosa, as this was refuge for those outside the law, Cavite gained the reputation of being “tulisan” or bandit country.To control the traffic of such persons, the Guardia Civil was assigned to the task.The Cuartel de Santo Domingo was built within a short period of time, the year 1877 given as its completion (NHI historical marker). The two-story barracks served as the headquarters and stronghold of the guardia civil, which protected the porous land boundaries between Silang (Cavite) and Biñan/ Calamba and Santa Rosa (both in Laguna and sites of the large haciendas of the Dominicans).In February 1897, during the Philippine revolution the cuartel was used as the headquarters, armory and depot for General Jose Lachambre’s division assigned to quell the rebellion in Silang and Dasmariñas in the Cavite highlands. From the revolution to 1957 when the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) in occupied it, it is uncertain what became of the Cuartel. It certainly reverted to public land as government property. It may have been assigned to the Philippine Constabulary, which was the immediate successor of the Guardia Civil. The AFP controlled the area until 1990. There was an interim of two years, after which in 1992 it was turned over the Philippine National Police (PNP), which assigned the area to the Special Forces of the PNP assigned to act as a SWAT team and respond to terrorism.

The City of Santa Rosa made a bid to acquire jurisdiction over the cuartel and an 8.2 hectare buffer zone because it is a historical landmark and an important part of Santa Rosa’s history. In 2005, National Historical Institute (NHI) declared the Cuartel “one of the historical landmarks of the City of Santa Rosa and the Province of Laguna with its interesting vintage architecture from the Spanish colonial era.”


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