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The History of Fort Santiago

By Rochellecatolico Jul 07, 2011 1023 Words
A CASE STUDY

OVERVIEW

HISTORY

Fort Santiago (Spanish: Fuerte de Santiago Tagalog: Moog ng Santiago) is a defense fortress built for Spanish conquistador, Miguel López de Legazpi. The fort is part of the structures of the walled city of Intramuros, in Manila, Philippines. José Rizal, the Philippines' national hero, was imprisoned in the fort before his execution in 1896. the site features, embedded onto the ground in bronze, his final footsteps representing the walk from his cell to the location of the actual execution. Fort Santiago, a 16th century military defense structure, stands witness to the valor and heroism of the Filipino through the centuries.Adaptive use of this famous historical landmark makes certain areas ideal for open air theater,picnics,and promenades. The Intramuros Visitors center gives an overview of the various attractions in the walled city. The location of Fort Santiago was once the site of the palace and kingdom of Rajah Sulaiman, a Muslim chieftain of pre-Hispanic Manila. It was destroyed by the conquistadors (Martin de Goiti) when, upon arriving in 1570, they fought several battles with the Islamic natives. The Spaniards destroyed the native settlements and erected the Fuerza de Santiago in 1571. The first fort was a structure of logs and earth. Most of it was destroyed in the Spanish-Chinese War of (1574-1575), by invading Chinese pirates led by James Alquizar also known as "tatang". Martin de Goiti died during the siege. After a fierce conflict, the Spaniards eventually drove the pirates out to Pangasinan, where the last conquistador (Juan de Salcedo) avenged the death of Goiti by capturing James Alquizar and burning him to death with his subordinates. Reconstruction of the fort with hard stone commenced in 1589 and finished in 1592. It became a main fort for the spice trade to the Americas and Europe for 333 years. The famous Manila Galleon trade to Acapulco, Mexico began from the Fuerza de Santiago. The fort is shielded by 22 feet (6.7 m)-high walls, with a thickness of 8 feet (2.4 m) and an entrance measuring 40 feet (12 m) high. It is located at the mouth of the Pasig River and it once served as the premier defense fortress of the Spanish Government in the Philippines. During World War II it was captured by the Japanese, and sustained heavy damage from American and Filipino mortar shells during the Battle of Manila in February 1945. It was later restored by the Intramuros Administration during the 1980s. Today the fort serves as a museum which houses well-preserved legacies of the Spanish government, José Rizal (which is called the Plaza de Armas), Rizal Shrine, and the prison dungeons for criminals used by the Spanish officials. In an October 2010 report titled Saving Our Vanishing Heritage, Global Heritage Fund identified Fort Santiago as one of 12 worldwide sites most "On the Verge" of irreparable loss and destruction, citing insufficient management and development pressures. Past and present condition

Since late nineteenth century until present the Cotta has been closely associated with the shrine of what the Misamis folks consider the miraculous image of the Birhen sa Cotta outside wall on the northeastern side facing the Ozamiz City port. This section was formerly a gate, which is now closed and walled in. The Birhen sa Cotta, as it is more popularly called, has been adopted as the second patroness of the city, with its feast day July 16, celebrated yearly. The inauguration of the change of Misamis to the chartered city of Ozamiz but also from other towns and provinces come daily to the cotta to light candles at the shrine and pay homage to the Blessed Virgin. The Cotta, which served as a watchtower for Misamis during the dark days of the 1750’s, now serves, through its lighthouse, as a guide for both mariners and fishermen entering Panguil Bay during dark nights. The lighthouse, pre-World War II addition, is located at the eastern bastion. Standing on one-meter base and tapering to a half-square-meter top, the lighthouse has a height of 0.6 meter from the Cotta floor by a winding 38-step stairway. The fort today, to an ordinary citizen, may just be another huge of stones piled on top of one another, unimposing in appearance especially because of its irregular and unkempt condition. It could easily pass for what Markham described as “stolid and stunned” and now “bowed by the weight of the centuries”. Both the northern and northwestern sides are now blocked by makeshift homes and refreshment stands catering to the needs of devotees of the Virgin and beach users alike. Attempts to restore the fort to its grandeur were not actually lacking. One of the latest is that from a group of civic-minded citizens, led by retired Judge Geronimo Marave of Ozamiz City who helped raised the amount of P 30,000.00 last 1975 in addition to the national funds set aside for its preservation. It should be known that before the 1960's, the sea encroachment towards the Cotta became alarming. The sea has eaten up the northeastern side exposing a good portion of its very foundation. The timely construction of the groin and breakwater saved the fort from what could have been another irreparable damage. Today the storage Cotta is the only remaining witness of Ozamiz City's rich and colorful past. The question that may be raised is should the Cotta be left to its present state, at the mercy of the elements and allowed to deteriorate and ultimately to crumble to the sand, or should its original grandeur be restored so that future generations may see and remember? The answer lies with the people of Ozamiz, our leaders both civic and government, local as well as national. Whatever the answer may be, some price will have to be paid. If we refuse to pay for it now in terms of funds for its restoration arid preservation, we will pay for it later in terms of a complete extinction of a valuable link with the past and with our future generation.

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