Archive for the 'Mindanao' Category


Fort San José • Linao , Agusan

Linao has disappeared entirely in modern maps, hence the location of Linao is disputed. The latest cartographic evidence available is found in a publication of the Manila Observatory, José Algue. 1900. Atlas of the Philippines (Washington: Government Printing Office). The data for the atlas was gathered prior to 1900 in fact it bore a Spanish title (See citation below). This map locates Linao between Veruela and Talacogon. It also indicates that there were four small lakes in the area, the fourth being Laguna de Linao. No such lakes exist today, however, the areas marked as lakes in the 1900 map of Mindanao are within the approximate boundaries of the Agusan wetland or marsh. These wetlands flood annually during the rainy season between July and October and when the floods recede can leave shallow lakes. Perhaps, the cartographers of the Manila Observatory gathered data after the annual flooding, hence the designation, “laguna.” Thus, the townsite of Linao is uncertain.  It is said to be near New Era, a barrio of the Municipality of Bunawan. There are no remains of the fort, probably destroyed by the annual inundation of the Agusan marsh because the fort was built of perishable material—tree trunks and most likely stone and earth embankments. The only visual evidence we have of the fortification is in Valdes Tamon’s 1738 report where the quadrilateral plan of the fort is evident and where the material it is made of is indicated by small circles delineating the fort’s perimeter. 

Delgado describes the fort as “estacada,” i.e., a palisade. Despite its humble appearance, this quadrilateral structure was the lynchpin of Agustin de San Pedro OAR’s defense network. Here he organized and trained Manobos as a fighting force against the Maguindanao. The fort was already standing in the 1680s. As one of the few inland fortification it the Philippines its purposes was the of the Christianized and colonized tribes against non-colonized tribes. During Fray Agustin’s time it was the training center for a militia of Manobo converts and protected the frontier of the Recollect missions in Agusan.



Fort at Cagayan de Oro • Cagayan de Oro City, Misamis Oriental

The fortification of Cagayan de Oro is attributed to Fray Agustin de San Pedro OAR. The fort as Fray Agustin built it may have been a palisade reinforced with earth and stone redoubts. After successfully repelling Sultan Kudarat of Maguindanao, “el padre capitán” fortified northern Mindanao. Cagayan was the site of a fortification he built beside the church of Cagayan de Oro. This fort was part of a defensive line in northern Mindanao, which would include Iligan west of Cagayan de Oro. Iligan was under the Jesuits, who may have built Fuerza de San Francisco Xavier by the 16th century. Cagayan was under the Recollects following an agreed division of Mindanao into an eastern and western district, with the east falling under the Recollects and the west under the Jesuits. The diving line passed through Initao, west of Cagayan,

The Cagayan fort was apparently designed as a quadrilateral. Tradition has it that during a siege at the Cagayan fortification, the Virgin Mary appeared at the parapets and sent the Maguindanao forces retreating. An imaginative re-creation of the fort and the miraculous appearance of the Virgin has been painted for Xavier University’s Museo de Oro by museum artist Nonoy Estarte. In this painting the fort is depicted as a palisade.

At the turn of the century the fort was torn down by Spanish governor of Cagayan. A photograph of the fort, dated ca. 1890, is in the collection of Museo de Oro. A copy of the Museo photograph is in the photo archive of Filipinas Heritage Library (Photo ID AR00178). This photograph shows a fortification with whitewashed stone walls, so the fortification in the 1738 report of Valdes Tamon may have been rebuilt at a later time with more solid and permanent materials

Oral tradition claims that the stone walls of the fort encompassed present-day Gaston Park. A small wooden image of the Virgin, popularly called “Birhen sa Kota” is in the Museo de Oro. A reminder of the demolished fort, where the image was placed in niche on the fort’s wall, the statue was originally in the possession of Abp. James Hayes, who donated the image to the Museo.

The church of Cagayan was damaged during the war and greatly remodeled and improved by Abp. Hayes in the 1950s, recently the church, now a cathedral, was further remodeled. An atrial cross in front of the church is said to be standing at the same location where a cross was placed during the Spanish colonial period.


Fuerza de la Nuestra Señora de la Concepción y Triunfo • Ozamis City, Misamis Oriental

Known by its ancient name Pangui (Panguil), Ozamis City was the site of a fort built to guard the narrow Panguil Bay.  The fort prevented the free travel of the Iranun and Maguindanao who lived inland and along the coast. It was built in 1754, (some authors claim 1756) and apparently renovated in 1766.

The fortification of Ozamis City was a result of the successful campaign of José Ducós SJ in repulsing and containing the Iranun raiders. Ducós built a warship Nuestra Señora del Triunfo, which led a contingent of smaller vessels manned by a volunteer armada to engage the raiders at sea and to repulse them. The bastioned fort at Ozamis was the land-based and static component of the two-part strategy for containment, the flotilla of sea vessels being the sea-based and mobile component.

While Pedro Manuel de Arandia was governor general he entrusted Ducós and Paver with the task of fortifying at coast of Panguil Bay. Forthwith the priest complied although the official approval of the Council of the Indies was not given until 2 September 1755. The early structure raised by the two Jesuits was a palisade of wood trunks, as indicated in a document sent to Arandia indicating the seacoast and the position of the fort.

Four years later it is reported in a accompanying letter from bishop Lino de Espeleta of Cebu that three of the fort’s four bastions had eight courses of cut stone (tablilla or tablija in the local idiom) and a ninth was being laid on top of the fourth. Two of the curtain walls had gone beyond the foundations while the foundations of the remaining two were started.  Acting as interim governor, Espeleta opined in a letter to the king (1760) that the work was going too slow and very costly because it was planned in such a grand manner and sought the advice of the Jesuit provincial, Juan de Moreno, regarding this matter.  The provincial concurred saying that it was “of such as size that was unnecessary” and suggested the existing structure be modified to another shape, probably a triangle to reduce cost.

A report by the castle master Juan de Moreno confirmed the observation of Morales regarding the progress of work at Ozamis.  He stated that the bastions San Fernando and San Ignacio were completed, but the remaining two, San Jose and Santiago were still in process.  The military engineer Tomás de Castro y Andrade was asked to study the report and give his opinion about the proposed changes.  De Castro gave the report that such changes were a waste of resources because the work was far advanced.  Better to continue with the original plans, if a smaller fort could not be made.

Gov. José Raón asked the corregidor of Misamis, Jacinto Rodriguez de Morales to submit report on the fort, which Rodriguez sent to Raon on 19 March 1762.  The report admitted that while work was slow, after two years of construction, the bastions of San Jose and Santiago were finally finished, and three of the four curtains were completed with the laying of the ninth course of stone.  The fourth wall a work in progress with two courses laid.  The living quarters were made of nipa with palm flooring.  The casamata (gunpowder storage) was made of wood planks with a covering of lime plaster, and the storeroom was structure roofed with nipa.

The governor compiled these reports and annexed the plan drawn by Miguel Antonio Goméz in 1765, showing a moat around the fort. Raon’s report was sent to the Council of the Indies to resolve the question whether to continue or abandon the project.

The response of the Council was probably to complete the project that was near completion anyway. Fort Triunfo although greatly degraded still stand.

The fort was badly damaged by earthquake in 1955 sending the wall where the main gate is located crashing to the ground and damaging a bastion with it. The fort was occupied by the Philippine National Police, which used it as its headquarters. A bastion served as the base for a lighthouse.

Recently, the PNP turned over the use of the fort to a public park while retaining a small outpost for the police. The walls have been repaired. In July 2006, renovations on the fort was publicly announced as completed.

On one wall is a bas-relief image of the Virgin Mary under the title Nuestra Señora de la Concepcion y Triunfo, and considered as a religious shrine.  It was deliberately vandalized in the 1970s but was subsequently repaired. Restoration on the fort has been heavy handed and quite imaginative with elements added that were not in the original plan. 


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 San Miguel • Iligan City, Lanao del Norte

Nothing remains of this fort one of the older ones in Mindanao. This fort of stone and mortar was designed as star-shaped fort (Valdez Tamon 1738), however, an 1898 map of Iligan draws the fort as a quadrilateral structure with corner bastions indicating some renovations. Originally named San Francisco Xavier, it was renamed San Miguel later. Fort San Francisco may have been built by the Jesuits as early as the 17th century. Built as an outer outpost to contain the expansion of the Cotabato sultanate into northern Mindanao, the fort kept Sultan Kudarat of Cotabato from overrunning northern Mindanao. The fort was later maintained to prevent the Iranun, a coastal-dwelling branch of the Maranao, from controlling Iligan Bay.Fort San Miguel developed as the core of the what was to become the city of Iligan. Iligan celebrates as its patronal fiesta, San Miguel the namesake of the fort. The city fiesta is celebrated with a dramatic presentation on St. Michael the Archangel, called a comedia.The visual evidence we have for the fort comes from the Valdes Tamon report of 1738 and from the 19th century map cited above.  Damaged by a 1916 flood, there are presently no traces of the fort. Oral tradition identifies the fort’s site as the district of Timoga, Iligan City, near the mouth of the Timoga River, a branch of the Agus, a swift river which has its source in Lake Lanao and falls down a cataract called Maria Cristina. However, the 1898 map of Iligan locates the fort at the edge of the poblacion near a waterway. According to this map, Iligan’s Central Market is close to the fort’s site.A photograph of the fort dated 1903 is in Filipinas Heritage Library AR00260; its original source is Xavier University’s Museo de Oro. The photograph is most likely from the early 20th century. It is a long view showing the curtain wall, bastion and a building inside the fort perimeter. Although the photograph is in poor condition, it suggests that the fort was redesigned by the end of the 19th century.


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.

June 2018
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