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Fort San Pedro of Iloilo: In sad state of preservation

Submitted by on October 8, 2011 – 7:27 pm8 Comments

Fort San Pedro Iloilo

Ruins invoke a different sense of emotion; sadness for one, longing in the other. Just like paying a visit to ruins of Fort San Pedro or Fuerza Nuestra Senora del Rosario of Iloilo City, seeing its state ignited a feeling of loss but also of curiosity.

The Fort San Pedro of Iloilo is now in ruined state; its foundations of limestone and mortar, still being crushed daily by waves, are built upon by a now dilapidated memorial and a lonely drive in restaurant. Both are no match to the glory of one of the largest forts in the Spanish time.

But in all this negativity, there comes life. Ilonggos of different ages still flock the area for it provides a beautiful view of the sun setting in a horizon bounded by the islands of Panay and Guimaras at opposite sides. For me as a photographer, exploring the place needed caution but unbridled desire to know more.

Fort San Pedro Iloilo

Brief History of Iloilo’s Fort San Pedro

The Fort San Pedro was built because of a necessity. In 1602, Pedro Bravo de Acuna stayed at the growing district of Arevalo, the island’s capital at that time. Seeing the need for protection from frequent Dutch and Moro raids, he ordered the construction of a wooden fortress at Punta de Iloilo, at the mouth of the Iloilo River. The fortress was then improved by the new commander in chief in the Visayas, Diego Quinones in 1616 and built the fortress in stone. After the Dutch siege in September 1616, reinforcements from Manila arrived and brought with them heavy artillery pieces and a fleet stationed at the fort for greater protection. It was also during the siege by the Dutch that Quinones found the image of the Our Lady of the Holy Rosary or Nuestra Senora del Rosario which is still exists at San Jose Parish Church at Plaza Libertad today. (See San Jose Church: Birthplace of Dinagyang and More)

Fort San Pedro Iloilo Foundation Ruins

In its days, the Fort San Pedro was quadrilateral in shape with four bulwarks with heavy artillery and supplied by magazines, and was manned by two companies of soldiers.  A wooden fence or palisade surrounded the fort for added defense.

In 1738, the Iloilo Fortress was of “stonework, and had an embankment partly in the sea and on land.” The part of the fort that was pounded by the sea regularly needed repair and maintenance. Inside the fort was the headquarters, the house of the lieutenant, storerooms for powder, ordinance, water deposit and other military installations.

As time progressed, Fort San Pedro lost prominence and importance. Its strength diminished and cannot offer resistance if Iloilo is attacked by invading armies.

Fort San Pedro survived the Philippine Revolution and the Spanish American War, but was pulverized in World War II as Americans bombed the Japanese taking stand at the fort.

Fort San Pedro Today

Fort San Pedro Iloilo

Fort San Pedro is now ruined and a small park with the image of the welcoming Christ at its center serves as the memorial for the fort. But even the park is now in nearly ruined and dangerous state as seas hammered it and had fallen prey to vandalism and thieves. A drive in restaurant also occupies what is now left of the fort, which in my opinion is like adding insult to injury to the ruined place. Stories dating back in the 1960s tell a different story – Ilonggos frequent the place with excitement and enthusiasm as compared today. Fishing at the breakwaters also attracts visitors in the fort, or lovers taking time at the base of the image of Christ.

Fort San Pedro Iloilo Drive in Restaurant

As I explored the place, the only reminder of the place is the foundations made of stone and mortar upon which the small park stands.

Without much support from the local government and the private sector, we might as well say goodbye to these ruins and let the Fort spend its days only in books and in pictures. 

Iloilo I LOVE! traces the sights, scenes, and sounds of Metro Iloilo Guimaras (MIG). This zone is composed of Iloilo and its environs (Oton, Leganes, Pavia, San Miguel and Sta. Barbara), together with the island of Guimaras. Come and experience Metro Iloilo Guimaras here at Iloilo I LOVE!

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  • Keeno says:

    too bad we lost the fort, if still present Fort San Pedro could have become our small version of Intramuros or cebu’s fort san pedro

    • Mark Segador says:

      yeah what a loss, hopefully the government would save what’s left of it. if you look at the photo above, the foundation is gradually being peeled away by the sea

    • lucita says:

      Its been a promised of many politician to keep Port San Pedro as one of our heritage place that it will rehab or whatever,as Ilonggo hope and pray that it will come so soon nga makita pa naton ang iya sini dati nga katahum indi inang kun patay na ang kadam-an nga naga hulat sa pag balik sang katahum sang Port San Pedro nga gina handum sang mga Ilonggo kabay matigayon na ini sa bago nga administrasyon.

      • Mark Segador says:

        oo, ako man ga-expect sa aton mga politiko na irehabilitate kag i-restore ang glory kag prestige sang fort san pedro. I envy Cebu’s Fort San Pedro, but still it’s not too late for own fort to be rehabilitated, i believe some parts or the foundation of the fort is still there, but already covered by the drive in restaurant. so it’s really a matter of political will to do so.

  • Mimi Illenberger Mapa says:

    The Fort San Pedro of My Youth (Late 40s and early 50s)

    My father, the late Atty. Alfredo Illenberger was one person who loved to fish. Fishing was his way of relaxing after a strenuous and taxing day in the office.There were times he would take us children to go fishing from the fort or go bathing at the beach behind the stone walls of the school, Colegio del Sagrado Corazon de Jesus. This “hidden” beach was just walking distance to the stone embankment and within watchful distance. The water then cool, inviting and free of litter.

    I remember the large to medium size “rock fishes” Papa caught. If I remember right he referred to those rock fishes as abo, boga-ong, bantol, inid and at one time, a baby “rompe candado”; there were a few other fishes but their names I can no longer remember. Papa simply threw his line ( complete with home made “tinga” sinker and his “paon” ) far out into the sea with the dexterity of a seasoned fisherman and then patiently wait the fishes to begin biting. He usually positioned himself at the far end of the stonework that jutted far out into the sea. I don’t recall a single time he came home empty handed – his “alat” was always bulging with the day’s catch.

    Fort San Pedro was some sort of “fishing ground” for the city folks that lived in that area. While of course we lived somewhere else ( Jaro) my father had made many friends among those who lived in the shanties behind the high stone walls of the exclusively-girls school. And it was from these regular Fort San Pedro “manog pamunet” that he learned the “secrets” of how to come home with a rich catch of succulent rock fishes that delighted my mother so much.

    • Mark Segador says:

      I really enjoyed reading your recollection about the old Fort San Pedro. How I wish I could see Fort San Pedro the way you had seen it in your childhood days. I really yearn to see the former glory of one of Iloilo City’s historical icons. Hopefully with today’s efforts to reclaim the fort and restore the seawalls, we can at least see how beautiful this place is. And with the cooperation of the communities and the city government we can also restore the biodiversity of the shores and somehow bring the fishes back. Thank you Ma’am Mimi!

  • FROI says:

    amat@ na nga gina panami ang fort san pedro, bisita kmo bala subong

  • FROI says:

    para sa akon mas matahum pa sang sa isplanade nila da, try nyo bala visit

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