Tag Archives: Spanish Philippines

#93 Corregidor Island

Ruins of military embattlements in Corregidor Island

Corregidor is an island in the entrance of Manila Bay and due to its position it has served as a strategic naval defense  for the capital city of Manila. During World War 2, Corregidor was the site of several battles and its fall to the Japanese forces was instrumental in the subsequent capture of the Philippines and the retreat of the US forces  in the early phase of World War 2 (Wikipedia).

During the Spanish colonial era, Corregidor served not only as a fortress of defense and a penal institution, but also as a signal outpost to warn Manila of the approach of hostile ships. It was also used as a station for customs inspection. Corregidor comes from the Spanish word corregir, meaning “to correct.”  

Today, Corregidor is known as a historic and tourist site and is managed under the jurisdiction of Cavite City. Geologically, Corregidor Island is a volcanic  remnant of the Corregidor Caldera,  which was active about a million years ago. Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology has listed the island as a potentially active volcano.

Tourists can visit the ruins of army headquarters, cannon placements, military tunnels and other defenses used during World War 2. The island is accessible via a ferryboat ride from Manila as a day-trip excursion. 

Mabuhay ang Corregidor!

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#77 Vigan

Vigan's Mestizo district

Vigan City is known for having one if  not the only intact Spanish-era district in the Philippines.

Located in Ilocos Sur province in nothern Philippines, Vigan is the capital of the province which lies on the western coast of Luzon, facing the South China Sea. Vigan is a World Heritage Site as it has one of the most intact Hispanic towns in the country complete with authentic cobblestone streets and unique architecture, some of them dating back to the 17th century, which fuses Philippine building design with colonial European (Spanish) architecture.

Among the landmarks in the city is the Mestizo district where the oldest Spanish-styled houses are located. Former Philippine president Elpidio Quirino, the sixth president of the Philippines also had a residence in Vigan, the Syquia Mansion.

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#33 Fort Santiago

Fort Santiago, located in Manila’s Intramuros district, was the symbolic seat of Spain’s military complex during the  colonial era. Built for Spanish conquistador, Miguel López de Legazpi, Fort Santiago was the site of  the palace and kingdom of Rajah Suleiman, a Muslim chieftain of pre-Hispanic Manila.

 Built as a wooden fort in 1571 by the Spaniards after they won the battles with the Islamic tribes who originally settled in Manila, the fort was constructed with hard stone in 1589 . The famous Manila Galleon trade to Acapulco, Mexico, which thrived for nearly 350 years, also begun from the fort or what the Spanish called “Fuerza de Santiago.” 

In World War 2, the fort served as one of the main defense and prison headquarters of the Japanese Army. Hundreds of American and Philippine soldiers and civilains were imprisoned in the original Spanish-built complex of dungeons and died either of diseases, starvation or by drowning when the banks of the adjoining Pasig River overflow.

Philippine national hero Jose  Rizal was also imprisoned in one of the buildings in the fort which still stands up to this day. The two-storey building has been converted into a museum and memorial shrine, showing the last days of Rizal through a detailed audio-visual display of his books, photographs, letters, paintings, dioramas, period furniture and some personal belongings.

With its wonderful gardens, quiet walkways, Spanish era defense walls and a nice view of the Pasig River, Fort Santiago is well-loved by park enthusiasts and visitors for its serene ambiance and historical significance.

Mabuhay ang Fort Santiago!

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