El Invincible Obando • Mobo, Masbate

In 1569, the island of Masbate and its neighbors, Burias and Ticao fell under Spanish control with its conquest by Luis Enriquez de Guzman, under Capt. Andres de Ibarra.  Fray Alonso Jimenez, OAR began to preach the Gospel in Masbate immediately thereafter.  In 1605, the province of Santissimo Nombre de Jesus established a mission composed of the three islands and assigned Fray Francisco Guerrero, OAR to instruct the people in the Christian faith.  In 1609, the Recollects ceded the mission to the secular clergy of Nueva Caceres (Naga) upon instruction of the bishop, Pedro de Arce.  For the succeeding decades, the secular clergy continued to administer the mission but because of a decline in population (from 250 families in 1609 to even less than that) due to frequent raids, the islands could not raise enough revenues for the sustenance of one parish priest.

On May 1682, Fray Andres Gonzales, OP, who succeeded to the see of Naga, petitioned the king for friars to be sent to the islands.  The king consented and issued a decree dated 13 August 1685.  The governor general appraised of the king’s decree, declared that the Recollects should take charge not only of Masbate but also of some towns in Luzon.  However, the Recollects decided that the Luzon villages would be better attended by the Franciscan’s whose territory it was, decided to accept Masbate.  When they arrived there was but one secular priest left in the whole island.  Masbate was in the crossroads of shipping lanes as ships from Luzon bound for Caraga or Cebu, or bound for Acapulco, Mexico stopped at Masbate for water supplies.  The Recollects saw Masbate’s strategic importance.

In 1688 the Recollects returned in Masbate in the person of Fray Juan de San Felipe, former provincial, and Fray Juan de Encarnacion and a third friar.  They met Don Christobal Carvallo, the parish priest in Ticao, and he graciously surrendered the administration to them.  On 2 September of the same year, Don Cristobal turned over Mobo, then the chief village of Masbate.  In Mobo, the friars founded a convent in honor of Nuestra Señora de los Remedios.  The church they built is described as “abound(ing) in reredoes and other adornments with a sacristy provided with vestment …and ornaments” and the house as “capacious” (BR 41:218).  Masbate was one of many sparsely populated islands whose coves and islets were conveniently used by seafaring raiders as temporary lairs and strongholds.  From such sally points raids were conducted along the Bicol coast and the neighboring Visayan Island.  To contain these raiders and to strengthen Spanish presence may be the reasons why in 1752, the Recollect Fray Lucas de Castro had a fortress built.  From existing sketches of it the fort was a formidable structure.  It was quadrilateral, had an inner wall and a tall tower similar to a donjon or castle keep that served as living quarters.  Protruding bastions were of the orillon type.  And the whole structure was built on a hill to further enhance its defensive potentials. 

It was demolished by order of the governor general, the Marquis de Obando, because it poorly constructed.  Subsequently, the townsite of Mobo was abandoned and the population transferred elsewhere.  The majority moved to Masbate.

A photograph dated 1937 with the caption Castillo titulado “El Invincible Obando” construido en Masbate, I.F., por el P. LUCA DE LA CRUZ, A. Recoleto is in the photo archives of FHL no. AR00845. The photograph is apparently mislabelled as the photograph depicts a convento or a large house.


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