Friday, September 3, 2010

fort san pedro in iloilo

Fort San Pedro is synonymous for the young Ilongo generation of today (not now though iin the 2000s with Mang Inasal, etc.) for its chicken barbecue and a cool night air. However, this has not always been the case for the older Ilongo generation who has fond and not so fond memories about this famous landmark.

Fort San Pedro was a cota, or fortified fort established by the Spaniards in 1616 to defend the Island of Panay against foreign invasions. True to its purpose, in 1617, while the fort was still unfinished, the Protestant Dutch Navy headed by Admiral Spitzbergon invaded the fort with an armada of ten ships. The resistance was led by Don Diego de Quinones who led the brave Ilongos to battle the Dutch invaders. Imploring the aid of Our Lady of the Rosary the Ilongos won the day inflicting heavy casualties to the invaders. For his heroism a street was named in Iloilo to perpetuate the memory of Quinones. Calle Mabini was formerly known as Calle Quinones and a shrine in honor of Mary, Queen of the Most Holy Rosary was erected overlooking the sea facing Guimaras. 

On December 24, 1898 the fort which was by then a Spanish garrison was captured by the revolucionarios headed by Gen. Martin Delgado. The capture of the famous fort from the Spaniards came to symbolize the demise of Spain’s stranglehold in the south and the independence of Ilongos from its rule after three centuries. 

With the start of the Philippine-American War in December 30, 1898 the fort which passed on to American hands was destroyed by the guerrillas and the ruins remain to this day, a mute testimony of America’s first defeat in the Philippines and the strong Ilongo defiance against American rule.

In 1901 the fort, now ruined, was handed on to the American conquerors which later became the Cuartel General de Constabularia of the Philippine Scouts.

After the war with Japan in 1945 the Fort was made into a promenade by the Americans. When Rafael Jalandoni became the Alcalde, he made it a famous place to pass away the time by adding a skating rink and holding concerts at the fort every Sunday.

As you can see it not just the chicken barbecue that made Fort San Pedro famous. It has a lot of history written on its walls - a silent witness to the rise and fall of the once Queen City of the South.

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