29
Jan
08

Fuerza de Regina Regente (Piramide)• Dulawan, Cotabato

Constructed in 1896 by the military, Fuerza Regina Regente guarded the Pulangi River to prevent easy access and communication among the Muslim communities along the river. Regina Regente was the end point for regular trips of a river boat that plied the distance between Cotabato and Dulawan.

Constructed at the turn of the 19th century while elsewhere in the Philippines the revolution for Philippine Independence from Spain was gaining way to culminate in an attack on the Spanish gunpowder depot in San Juan in August, the construction of Regina Regente was a last ditch effort by the Spaniards to consolidate rule over Mindanao. Mindanao was being eyed by other European powers as a viable base for their own economic and political activities in the region. For instance, France and Russia showed interest in getting control of Basilan, France offering to buy the island outright from Spain. With such an external threat coupled with the long lasting and persistent internal threat of Muslim communities in Mindanao, Spain saw the urgency of controlling the island and the region. Furthermore, as their actuations would bear out later, Mindanao may have been perceived as a fall back position, where government could be transferred should Manila fall into the hands of the revolutionary troops. It was also perceived as a way of relieving population pressures in the north by offering land to retired soldiers, cleaning the jails by exiling prisoners to Mindanao and offering land to impoverished farmers who might want to risk establishing a new life in this frontier.

Archipelago Filipino describes the fort of Regina Regente as “mejor de todos.” Built as part of the campaign to consolidate Spanish presence in Cotabato, the fort commanded a navigable stretch of Rio Grande de Mindanao (Pulangi), which was the terminus of a regular riverboat service.  This fort of rubble and mortar survived to the post war period.  But greatly deteriorated, the fort was demolished and its stones used to pave the provincial road.

Landor (1904: 333-334) describes the location of Regina Regente as near Datu Piang’s stronghold. Furthermore he clarifies the relationship between Regina Regente and the blockhouse seen in late 19th century photographs. There were three blockhouses, the third was apparently demolished because he speaks about them in the past tense “A high block-house existed on that hill in Spanish days.

“[Datu] Piang’s place lies at the junction of the Bakat River and the Rio Grande on the south bank of the larger stream and two Spanish rectangular block-houses are seen at this point, one three-tiered, with a wing and a bastion. …“We walked from this spot to the Reina Regente, the last of the line of Spanish forts in the interior of central Mindanao. It lies on the Tinunkup hills, with an extensive plain to the west, with an extensive plain to the west.“The fort at Regina Regente is one of the handsomest (not the largest) I saw in the Philippines, and has double loopholed walls, diagonal towers, really comfortable, airy buildings inside, and a good hospital, and polverina (ammunition house). The fort is beautifully drained, has fine baths for officers and men, and a big, covered cistern, fourteen feet by nine square. The fort is commanded by a hill to the south, and could not stand attacks against artillery, but is excellent against attacks of the Mohammedan tribes. A high block-house existed on that hill in Spanish days.”

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