Friday, December 23, 2011

Fort San Pedro - Cebu City

Fort San Pedro is a defensive military structure built a few days after the arrival of Miguel Lopez de Legaspi, the Spanish conquistador, who in 1565 built the first Spanish settlement in the Philippines - 44 years after Ferdinand Magellan's "discovery" of the Philippines.

An official report in 1739 described it as triangular in shape and made of mortar and stone. Its three bastions (defensive sides) are named La Concepcion, San Ignacio de Loyola and San Miguel. However, records show that 11 days after the arrival of Legaspi, the construction of the fort (which commenced on May 8, 1565) was fast-tracked to provide immediate security in the area. It was originally made of a triangular wooden palisade situated on a promontory and enclosing a few "wells" of fresh water, one is still operation. The two sides facing the sea were defended by artillery while the side facing the land was sufficiently defended by a thick wall.

The fort was named Fort San Pedro, in honor of Legaspi's flagship, the same ship that was sent back to Mexico after the establishment of the first Spanish settlement in Cebu. I do wonder why Mexico, and not Spain.

The significance of the fort rests on its being a physical evidence of the arrival of the Spaniards in the Philippines, building a settlement that eventually grew into an empire all throughout the Philippine archipelago. The Spaniards then ruled the country for the next 500 years.

This is the Eye in the Sky!

Entrance to the Fort. There's a cheap P30 entrance fee for adults; cheaper if you're a student.

The Santo Nino looking from above the fort entrance.

This building used to house a small museum that has since been moved elsewhere. It presently holds some letters written by Andres Bonifacio and some weapons used by the revolutionaries.

Our Lady of the Fort - Our Virgin of the Remedies: The 2nd oldest image of the Virgin Mary in the country is Nuestra Senora de la Cotta found in the Cathedral of Cebu City. This image, according to traditional Cebuanos, was found in a well that was in the Cotta (fort) between 1570 to 1575. This discovery proved to be "miraculous" due to the water in the well used by local folk to cure illnesses.

The statue is small, with an infant in her arms. The sculpture was European, and venerated by the locals in the chapel of the fort until the mid-1900s when it was eventually transferred to the Cathedral of Cebu. Its feast day is celebrated every 18th of December (five days ago from this posting).

The way out.

The gradually ascending ramp way leading towards the frontal bastion.

The upper portion of the port has gardens and plants - even coconuts.

A cannon directed towards Plaza Independencia.

Here are a few photos of how the fort looked like back in the days:

A triangular fort with its 3 bastions which were partly destroyed again during the earthquake of 2014.

The grounds within the fort.

Fort San Pedro circa 1920.

The earliest fort, made of wood, constructed 11 days after the arrival of Miguel Lopez de Legaspi in 1565. This was gradually modified in stages; wood is replaced by stone and mortar.

Portraits of Ferdinand Magellan (left), the Portuguese who headed the first Spanish expedition that reached the Philippines in 1521; and of Miguel Lopez de Legaspi (right) who, in 1565, founded the first Spanish settlement in Cebu. He became the first governor general of this settlement.

The arrival of the Spanish fleet; the first Spanish settlement in the Philippines.


Trotter said...

Hi Eye! Great to see Magalhães (that's the true name of Magellan...) on your post!!

Blogtrotter Two is waiting for you! Enjoy and have a great holiday season!

eye in the sky said...

Merry Christmas, Gil! :)

Ramakrishnan said...

Good to see the Fort is maintained in good shape. Loved the old photographs of the Fort as also nice portraits of Magellan,Legaspi & sketch of Spanish Armada. Nice post.

eye in the sky said...

@ R.Ramakrishnan:

I like the old photographs too. Highlights the need of documentation to tell stories of the past. :)

Aces Eye Clinic Cebu said...

I'm glad I accidentally got here while looking for posts on our eye clinic... never seen those old drawings of the fort. We hope you visit as well for the sinulog :-) That's the other side of the story... what happened to magellan and then how the santo nino christianized cebu and the rest of the philippines (check out the essay by nick joaquin on this, you'll like it).

eye in the sky said...

Thanks for dropping a line. The special thing about visiting the fort is that it takes you back to the believed "birth" of our nation, and it renders our heroes a sense of realism, instead of being almost "mythical".

I'll try to get a copy of Joaquin's take on that chapter of history. Thanks for the suggestion. :)

Roy Rolan Templado said...

I was looking for a blog of Fort San Pedro to feature on my vlog for school output and i accidentally find this. Perfect. thanks for sharing.