Fort San Pedro of Iloilo: In sad state of preservation
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.
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)
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 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.
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.
Tags: Fort San Pedro, Iloilo City, Iloilo Port, Metro Iloilo - Guimaras
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!