Archive for the '19th century fort' Category


Fort Pikit • Pikit, Cotabato

Built in 1893, Fort Pikit was built by the Spanish military to consolidate its hold on Cotabato and the Pulangi River that run through it. Designed as a bastioned fort but adapted to 19th century armament, Fort Pikit was similar in design to its neighbor Regina Regente in Dulawan. Citing the report of Gen. Julián Gonzalez Parrado, Aguilar Nieto describes Fort Pikit as follows: “Pikit. On the right bank of the river and 34 miles from Regina Regent we find this fort. The perimeter is surrounded by a rubble wall 38 meters per side, two corner towers on a diagonal to each other, and two batteries at the remaining corners. Inside the perimeter is a quarter of two floors, made of wood and covered with a metal roof, an infirmary of tabique pampango and roofed with zinc. Central command, quarters for the artillerymen, workshops—all covered with nipa and wood. A powder magazine of rubble and an armored roof. Total personnel: one officer and 60 members of the infantry and 6 of the artillery.

For better control and dominion of the era, the establishment of a fort 46 miles upstream of Pikit, where ends the influence of the Malayan Muslims of Mindanao and where begins the settlement Montesa de Misamis (Bukidnon) is under study. To this garrison must be assigned one officer, 60 soldiers and 6 artillerymen.”

The fort is located on PC hill but is covered with vegetation. Made of rubble, the walls and the plain bastions are in place.  Some ruined structures are found inside.  The fort was made into a public park but had been abandoned in 1970s due to the conflict in Mindanao.  Some new cement floor and constructions are found inside. The fortification was cleared of vegetation in the 1990s. It can still be visited today a bastion offers a vista of the surroundings.

A picture of a bastion of Fort Pikit is found in the Heritage Conservation Society [of Manila] blogsite.


Cuarteles • Puerto Princesa City, Palawan

The details of construction are sketchy but it appears that the fortification was built in a short space of time; there is no evidence of additions during the Spanish colonial period. Built in the 19th century by the Spanish military it had military barracks, probably of wood, and a prison. It was built to defend Palawan’s capital Puerto Princesa, after the capital was transfered from Taytay.

Palawan was one of frontiers, which Spain sought to bring under Spanish rule. Also known as Paragua, the main island of Palawan was sparsely populated by indigenous tribes like the Tagbanua and the Tao’t Bato, in contrast to the northern island groups of Cuyo and Busuanga, which was populated by migrants from the neighboring islands of Luzon and the Visayas. Many were fisherfolk lured by the abundant fishing grounds of northern Palawan. 

An early 20th century postcard depicts a fortification built right in front of the Puerto Princesa church. The fortification consists of a pair of two-story quadrilateral towers projecting in front of a perimeter wall. At the towers’ lower registers are entrances leading into the perimeter’s interior. The perimeter wall, pierced by loopholes is not much taller than a standing person. The interior is almost completely occupied by a hip-roofed structure. The roof is made of metal sheets. The structure is morphologically closer to a blockhouse rather than a bastioned fort.

The postcard photograph suggests that this might be a fortified structure other than cuarteles because it is situated at the side rather than in front of the Puerto Princesa church. There is the possibility, though that the orientation of the church was changed over time. But then structural and design details, shown in the photograph, indicate an entirely different structure. The towers, for instance, are simple boxes supported by crisscross timbers. They have none of the articulation of the existing towers of cuarteles. There are no remnants of this second structure.


Fuerza de Principe Alfonso • Malabang, Palawan

Although plans to build a fort were underway from the 18th century, nothing came of it until the establishment of a military outpost on the island in 1857. It was formerly called “Principe de Asturias” but renamed “Principe Alfonso” in 1878. The fort is described as polygonal with a tower in the middle and facing the sea. The construction of the fort by the military began after the outpost was established.

The southern tip of Palawan (Paragua) and the outlying islands, did not figure much in the strategies of Spain until the 19th century when the British had established a trading post in the nearby island of Balambagan. Through this trading post the British controlled commerce in the “Sulu Zone.” The military began fortifying Palawan by establishing military and naval detachments throughout the island and its adjacent islands and islets. 


Fort Almonte • Barangay Lianga(n), Bacolod, Lanao del Norte

Although an older fort may have built earlier but data is sketchy, the ruins found at the Lianga East Elementary School trace to the work of Corps of Military Engineers, who built a quadrilateral fort as municipal and coastal defense in 1892. This coastal fortification was a component of Spanish strategy to ensure its hegemony in Mindanao. The late 19th century saw a last ditch effort on the part of the Spanish military to place Mindanao under its complete control as the island had eluded Spanish control and its economic importance as sites for agricultural colonies was being recognized not just by Spain but by rival European nations like the British, French and Russians who wanted to establish a foothold in Mindanao. Very little remains of Fort Almonte, a bit of wall and what looks like a bastion.


Fuerza de General Weyler • Baloi, Lanao del Norte

Named after Gov. Gen. Valeriano Weyler, who launched a punitive campaign against the Maranao of Lake Lanao, the fort was built in 1891 and then reconstructed with more permanent material in 1894 by the Corps of Military Engineers. The fort started as a field fortification constructed at Momungan (presently Balo-i) as part of the campaign against the Maranao. Its reconstruction assured Spanish control over the Agus River, a waterway that links Lake Lanao with the sea at Iligan. No remains of the fortification are reported.


Trocha de Tukuran • Lanao del Sur & Zamboanga del Sur

The “trocha de tukuran” refers not to one site but to a roadway or defense line fortified by field and permanent fortifications. Built from 1891 to 1896 (although some sites were built earlier), most of the structures along this defense line was built during the military campaign of Gen. Valeriano Weyler, who was governor general of the Philippines from 1889 to 1891. Subsequent to his campaign to bring under control the Maranao who inhabited the littorals of Panguil and Illana bay, Lake Lanao and Agus River, some fortifications were rebuilt in more permanent form to maintain Spanish presence in Mindanao.

Because of the long lasting and persistent threat of Muslim communities in Mindanao, Spain saw the urgency of controlling the island and the region. The military campaign against the different Muslim tribes began with Gov. Narciso Claveria’s 1846 campaign against the Sama Balangingi of the Sulu Sea. The campaign against the Maranao was the last of the major campaign until the Spaniards lost the Philippines during the Philippine Revolution and the take over by the Americans in 1898.

Arranged from north to south (with notations on present provincial names) and ending at Tukuran, now in the Zamboanga del Sur province, the fortifications of this line of defense and their descriptions as listed by Aguilar Nieto are as follows:

Misamis Occidental

  • Tangok. [Probably present day Tangub (City)] On Panguil Bay near Misamis [Ozamis] to which it is linked by a road. The fortification is a palisade had two towers in bad state. Fort personnel: one officer and 20 infantry men.
  • Balactacan. On Panguil Bay. A fortification like Tangok.

Lanao del Norte

  • Iligan. An old Christian settlement has a very old fortification of stone and encircles quarters of light material. In its vicinity is a good infirmary, where lives those who are sick or have been wounded during a campaign. Fort personnel: one officer and 30 men of the third civil district. (Fuller description found in catalogue no. 10-04)
  • Almonte [Lianga(a)]. In the bay of Iligan, near the entrance to the Bay of Panguil. On a narrow tongue of land formed by the sea and the Liangan River. A rectangular fortification 25 x 30 meters in dimension and one story. A double palisade and a moat 10 meters wide. At two corners batteries and the remaining two corner towers which was at the same time the officers’ quarters. Within the perimeter two structures of wood and zinc roof for the troop barracks, infirmary and other auxiliary facilities. Fort personnel: one captain, one officer and 58 men of the infantry, 8 Spanish artillerymen with one officer and 20 disciplinarios. (Fuller description found in catalogue no. 10-05)
  • Fort (Valeriano) Weyler in Momungan is situated 16 kilometers from Iligan, and is placed on an elevated mesa between the lake and the coast and is on the right bank of the Agus River, which is deep and swift and has at this point a width of more than 100 meters. (Fuller description is found in catalogue no. 10-06)

Lanao del Sur

  • Lintogud. Built along the Trocha de Tucuran, a military road, is Lintogud, located some five kilometers from the mouth of the Lintogud River. The fortification is a made of tree trunks which enclose quarters of light material, which served as barracks for the officials and troops.
  • Lubig. Located at the center the military road Tucuran, Lubig has quarters of light material defended by a palisade with two towers, made of rough timber. Fort personnel: one officer and 40 men.
  • Malabang. Near Parang-parang [Parang, Cotabato] to which it is connected by regular road. The fort is a near the shore, located at a point where a stream flows on three sides of the fortification. It is a double palisade, where all the buildings of the garrison are located. They are made of wood and zinc. Fort personnel: one captain, 3 subalterns, 200 men and 10 artillerymen manning two pieces of bronze canons at the outer palisade.
  •  Malabang (La Sabanilla). It is a most important point for operations against Lake (Lanao) with which it is connected by a 50-kilometer road. A short distance from the present palisade exists the ruins of the fort of Sabanilla, which was constructed in 1639. A suitable site for a permanent fort which can use the foundations and materials accumulated by our predecessors.
  • Baras. Situated along Illana bay and about 10 kms from Malabang. It connects with Lake (Lanao) through a rough and steep road. It is an important market for the Moros of Illana. Fortification is needs to be repaired and upgraded. Total personnel: one captain, three subalterns, 200 infantry, 10 artillerymen with two pieces.

Zamboanga del Sur

  • Tucuran. At the south end of the military road in the coast of Pagadian and the river of the same name, a garrison is located half way up the slope of a hill near the bay, a garrison of light materials protected by a stockade. The coast is defended by a blockhouse. Fort personnel: one chief and 6 men; the coastal defense, one chief and 8 soldiers.

Near the garrison is a wooden and tabique pampango building with a zinc roof used as an infirmary. An on the plateau of the hill there is a badly constructed fort made of a stockade of timber and two towers covered with a zinc roof. Fort personnel: one sergeant, one chief and 8 men.

Note: To man these series of independent garrisons, separated by considerable distances, are a mere 60 personnel.


Fuerza de Princesa de Asturias • Jolo, Sulu

Built ca. 1876-78 by the military, Princesa de Asturias was an independent fortification outside the perimeter of the Jolo Intramuros and served as its outer defense. Built on the foundations of a Sulu kuta, the fort had three bastions on a quadrilateral plan. Some remains of the fort still stand and it is used as the foundation for the buildings of the Philippine National Police.

January 2020
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