Archive for the 'Bastioned fort' Category

05
Feb
08

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.

Advertisements
30
Jan
08

Fuerza de San Juan Bautista de La Lutaya • Agutaya, Palawan

In 1622, Palawan (Paragua) and the neighboring northern islands collectively known as Calamianes were entrusted to the spiritual care of the Augustinian Recollects by the Bishop of Cebu, Pedro de Arce OAR. Friars Francisco de San Nicolas, Diego de Santa Ana, Juan de Santo Tomas and lay brother Francisco de la Madre de Dios were assigned to this mission area. By 1623, the friars had crossed to the Palawan mainland but failed to succeed in conversion because of the strong influence of Muslim communities. Quite a contrast to the easy acceptance of Catholicism by the people of Cuyo and neighboring Agutaya. These fledgling Christian outstations were subject to attack by slave raider: 1632 Cuyo; 1636 Cuyo and Calamines; and in 1646 the raiders planned a concerted and massive attack on this frontier. In 1638, while serving as parish priest of Cuyo, Juan de Severo, OAR conceived of the idea to fortify the churches of Cuyo, Agutaya and Culion. While the friars built churches and residences and were advancing in their work, continued slave-raiding and lack of resources forced them to abandon Palawan briefly, except for Cuyo and Agutaya. This retrenchment set back the growth of the missions. In 1659, they returned determined to stay and so begun the construction of more durable defensive fortifications at Cuyo, Agutaya, and Culion, and also at Linapacan, Taytay and Dumaran, Malampaya, Calatan and Paragua (Puerto Princesa). In 1692, the mission at Agutaya was raised to the status of parish under the advocacy of San Juan Bautista. This is the same name given to the fort at Agutaya.

The fort built in 1683 was remodelled in the 18th century. It is not certain if the 17th-century fortification was a palisade or a stone fort. The plan for Agutaya appears in the Valdes Tamon report of 1738. Whether the fortification was built immediately is uncertain. A date given for the completion of the fort is 1784 and is attributed to the encomendero Antonio de Rojas who delineated the plan of the fort. Apparently, the earlier fort of Fray Juan was greatly modified.

Landor (1904: 65) describes Agutaya “a fort with four battlements was the principal structure, and inside its quadrangle was to be found a simple and modest church, the windows of which were cut into the east wall of the fort. This house of God possessed a choir-balcony and the usual cheap images of the altar. On the northeast battlements, which was crumbling away were the remains of a high tower.”

The degradation of the Agutaya fort continues to this day. 

30
Jan
08

Dumaran Fort • Dumaran, Palawan

Warren lists a wooden baluarte or watchtower at Dumaran based on late 18th century reports by the diocese of Cebu on the defenses of the Visayas, which was under its ecclesiastical jurisdiction. If the fortification at Dumaran were made of stone and mortar conceivably the report would list it down as such. This might indicate that the ruined fort at Dumaran was built during the last decade of the 18th century or the early 19th.

The walls that remain at Dumaran consist of a bastion and short stretch of curtain wall, breached off center with an entrance. It is uncertain if the fortification was ever finished or that it had been ruined over time. Oral tradition claims that the fort was never finished and inspection of the evidence seem to corroborate the tradition.

The bastion is of an unusual shape consisting of a rounded projection at the center flanked by two short wall walls. The bastion does not conform to any typical shape. It is quite probable that the rounded projection is an older construction, possibly a circular tower of stone and mortar, which was then remodeled as a bastion.

30
Jan
08

Linapacan Fortification II • Barangay Caseladan, Linapacan, Palawan

Part of defense system built in Palawan by the Recollects from the 1620s to 1738, the mysterious ruins of a bastioned fort were recently discovered (November 2004) on Linapacan Island at Barangay Caseladan, said to be the original site of the town of San Miguel. Another set of ruins were found near San Miguel. It is uncertain if this or the fortification at San Miguel is the one referred to by the 1738/39 Report of Valdes Tamon as “muralla de piedra de figura irregular” or the one described in 1754 by Delgado a fortaleza. There are marked discrepancies between the Valdes Tamon description and the actual remains at Caseladan. The Valdes Tamon report shows a natural fortification strengthened by walls and other built structures. The Caseladan fortification may have been built after the Valdes Tamon report or may been a remodelling of the fortification reported in 1738.

The history of San Miguel, the principal settlement of Linapacan is unclear. Did it transfer sites more than once? If it did then Caseladan maybe one of many sites for San Miguel.

30
Jan
08

Cuilon Fort • Culion, Palawan

In the 1750s, Delgado describes the fort at Culion as “fortaleza.”  Although the Culion fort is attributed to Fray Severo the 17th century fortification may have been a palisade because the 1738 Valdes Tamon report says that Culion’s fort was in the process of completion.  This quadrilateral fort enclosed a small chapel, whose facade served as the entrance to the fort.  Built on promontory overlooking the sea, the fort made of coral stone was still standing up to 1936, when it was partially demolished to make way for a larger church. The present church of Culion, built on the site of the fort uses stones from the fort as foundation and lower storey.  The original facade of the fort, bearing the arms of Spain has been incorporated into the entrance of the church.  Behind the church a circular bastion and part of the wall remains.  Canons are mounted on the bastion.

Landor (1904: 74-76) describes Culion, but did not think too highly of the aesthetics of the church or chapel inside the fort: “Let us go to Culion town on the northeast coast of the same island, in a sheltered inlet of what is called Coron Bay. The anchorage is small and rather narrow, in fourteen fathoms of water, in front of the picturesque Spanish fort occupying a prominent rock that protrudes into a spur on the east side at the entrance of the harbor. The town itself consists of a number of buildings stuck against the hillside and astride of it; the doors of one tier of houses being on a level with the roofs of the houses below. An ugly, corrugated roof, rising from within the centre of the fort, within the walls of which it is enclosed, covers the white painted building.

From the fort—a quadrangle of forty paces square, with a stone wall thirty-two inches thick and some twenty-five feet height—one gets a fine view of the town with its three parallel streets upon the hill-side. Six handsome modern church-bells and some bronze cannon on  one bastion seem a strange contrast of peace and war as all these forts do. Nearly half the fort is occupied by a spacious church, the lower part of stone, the upper of wood, the door ornamented with graceful fluted columns and most elaborately artistic capitols. The inside is, as usual, plastered white, and has no peculiarity except a wheel with several bells to announce the beginning of mass.…

The fort was approached by an imposing flight of semi-circular steps, at the bottom of which stood a big wooden cross.”

30
Jan
08

Cagayancillo Fort • Cagayancillo, Palawan

The construction of this fort took a long time. In the1580s it is reported that Nicolas Melo, OSA built a fortification described as baluarte-castillo de defensa.

Work continued under his successor Fray Alonso Calosa, parish priest from 1590-1602. Unable to provide manpower, Cagayancillo was placed under the secular clergy from 1602 to 1626. It was returned to the Augustinians who administered the place by annexing it as a visita first to Antique, Bugason, Dao and finally Ani-niy in Panay Island. As visita, this meant that Cagayancillo did not have a resident priest; rather a priest from the mother parish would visit it on a regular basis. What a trip it was! It took all of four days to reach Cagayancillo from Ani-niy on board a sailing vessel like the paraw or the batel, a cargo ship that once linked Palawan with the Visayas.

Under Fray Hipolito Casiano (parish priest 1690 – 1714) the fort was completed. Fr. Pedro Galende, OSA says that the fort’s construction “took almost 130 years.” Galende writes: “When completed, the diamond shaped fort, with ten firing mouths crowning its walls, occupied an area of 162 square meters, with its 3 meter thick walls rising 12 meters from their base.” Then, he adds,” At the time of its completion, Cagayancillo had barely 180 inhabitants on record.”

Why did it take almost 130 years to finish the fort? First answer: the island was not under the Augustinians for a long unbroken time during the 17th century. When it reverted to them, it took more than fifty years to finally have a resident priest, apparently Fray Casiano. A friar’s continuous physical presence was needed if an ambitious building project was to prosper. Second answer: morphologically, Cagayancillo’s present fort is a bastioned fort type, which does not fit Galende’s description of baluarte-castillo. Baluarte refers a detached, free-standing tower but Cagayancillo’s fort is also called castillo, which may mean either that it was of larger proportion that the usual, or may have had an additional wall to it, much like the San Diego de Alcala fortification at Gumaca, Quezon. Or probably, there was more than one fort; Fray Melo’s 16th-century structure being rudimentary tower, whose stones were then incorporated into the present fort. Third reason: there were very few people in Cagayancillo, if the population was placed as 180 in the early 18th century, that means there was little manpower to work on the fort, as it was customary for males alone to work on public construction, women and children were exempt. That cut available manpower by at least half.

But then again the slaving raids may have reduced population. But which raids? There were many eras in the history of slave-raiding in the Philippines. There were the 16th century raids, provoked in part by Spanish attempt to cut off the influence of Brunei on trade in the Sulu-Borneo area. There were the 17th century raids during the ascendancy of the Cotabato sultanates and the raids of the second half of the 18th century, catalyzed by the rise of the Sulu Sultanate and the expansion of British trading interest in the Sulu zone. Cagayancillo’s fortification falls neatly into the first two periods of slave-raiding.

30
Jan
08

Fuerte de Santa Isabel • Taytay, Palawan

The beginning of this fortification is attributed to “El padre capitan” Fray Agustin de San Pedro, OAR who is reported to have built a fort in 1626; this was three years after the Recollects had established a mission in the area.  However, the friar’s fortification was apparently a palisade. If there were a more permanent structure built is uncertain, but whatever be the case by the first quarter of the 18th century Fray Agustin’s fort was in bad state and had been abandoned. Because of Taytay’s close proximity to Borneo and in the track of merchant ships under other Europeans and the vessels of the seafaring pirates Gov. Gen. Fernando Manuel de Bustillo was prompted to rebuild the fort. He appointed Fernando Vélez de Arce as the castle chief because of his expertise in building fortifications learned at the public academy of Barcelona.

The successor of Bustillo in 1725, the Marques de Torrecampo reported that Taytay was fortified by a palisade and moved that stone structure be built in response to the request of the alcalde mayor of Calamianes who had called together a council of war.  In October 1726, work had progressed such that the wall facing the town was completed. The castle master Juan Antonio de la Torre opined that it was necessary to demolish the redoubt called “la retirada” and suggested that a small structure or garita be built at the shore as a guide and protection for ships.

Five years later, the new alcalde mayor Benito Llanes y Cienfuegos reported that the fortification was on a rock but was indefensible as it was of poor quality material.  Furthermore, he suggested that the fortification be built elsewhere rather than waste resources on repairs. He also suggested rebuilding the demolished redoubt “la reitrada.”  In response, the central government sent the engineer Tomás de Castro to survey the area and submit his recommendations. De Castro replied that building a new fort of a much better and more adequate design was the preferred option. However, he was instructed that before such an undertaking to do some repairs on the fort (DT 1959:375-78).

This was apparently done, because in the fort’s plan as it appears in the 1738 Valdes Tamon report, parts are already indicated as being made of stone, some parts were still made of timber and others were planned. It seems that de Castro’s recommendation to build a completely new structure was not followed or rather that he was ordered to continue the reconstruction because a memorial stone on the inner side of the curtain wall indicates that de Castro was responsible for rebuilding the Taytay fort.

Described as a fuerza, Santa Isabel is built over a rock beside the sea. Planned as an irregular quadrilateral, whose perimeter followed the contour of the rock on which it is built, the fort has a seaward side curtain wall is arched rather than straight.  Bastions are found at each corner of the irregular plan.  Garitas are strategically located.  A ruined chapel is in the center of the plan.  Some below ground structures are visible but whose functions are uncertain.  They may be the structures described in the 1738 report as storehouses. Despite being well-built the structure was vulnerable from attack, mounted on a nearby hill which opened to an unobstructed view of the fort.

Landor (1904: 111-112) describes Taytay and identifies the bellow ground structures as “dungeons,” he may be mistaken. Landor writes:

 “The fort, which could accommodate six or seven hundred soldiers, was constructed on a high rock projecting into the sea and connected with the land by an artificial causeway. There was a passage with steps, and an incline by which the summit of the church could be reached some thirty-five or forty feet above the sea-level. By the side of this incline were two dungeons, now roofless. In former times these dungeons had only one small aperture to give light and air to both chambers. On the opposite (east) side of the entrance-gate was a large cistern with a fountain at the lower portion.The fort was one of the finest on Palawan Island, and had four bastions, those overlooking the sea to the north being semicircular, whereas the other two were angular. For its day it possessed some powerful iron artillery, such as one long five-inch piece dated 1812, and two four-inch (1823) cannon. A great number of one-pound bullets were used as mitraille in the big guns; possibly smaller guns were (page 112) in those times mounted upon the wall; or maybe it was ammunition fired at the fort by the Moro lantacas (brass cannon) in some attacks.The inside of the fort was at a slope, the north part being filled up to within five feet of the top of the wall. The two east turrets were reached by an incline, and a path was built all around the top of the castellated wall. The actual stone outer wall was no more than thirty inches wide, but it was filled with earth and thus made of great strength. The only building inside, which was formerly a chapel with two bamboo annexes, is now used as barracks for the constabulary force of seventeen men. The fort measures some forty paces square, and its walls was about forty-two feet high and vertical, except corner bastions at a slant, with a cornichon twenty feet above the ground all round.”