Travel way back to 1565: Fuerza de San Pedro

“Travelling helps you learn new things through experience” -Anonymous

Have you ever experienced time travelling? Do you believe that we, humans aren’t capable of time travelling? Well, this isn’t entirely true because we can go back in time and take a peek of the past just by reading history and seeing priceless artifacts from the past. You can do travelling and time travelling all at once by simply visiting places like ruins and museums. Surely, what you’ll learn from it is worth the travel.

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By the entance of the fort

 

Fuerza de San Pedro or most commonly called Fort San Pedro is a historical landmark and popular tourist attraction located at Plaza Independencia, in the Pier Area of Cebu City. But what made this old fort so significant from the others? How did it become an attractive tourist spot from a very old military defense? What made it alluring in the eyes of different tourists? Why was the old fort restored and made into what it is today? These are the questions that I’ve been asking myself when I heard about Fort San Pedro.

At first, I didn’t know what Fort San Pedro was until my roommates told me about it. One Sunday morning in the month of June, after we attended the 9:00 mass at Basilica Minore del Santo Niño, we decided to go to Fort San Pedro since it was just a 10-minute walk from Sto. Niño church. I wasn’t really interested in historical stuff since I find it boring. But I still went with them. There was an entrance fee of P30.00 for adults, P25.00 for senior citizens and P20.00 for students and children.

 

I was a little fascinated when we entered Fort San Pedro. I thought it was just an ordinary fort or something because the outside was just an old building made out of stone or maybe clay but it was more than that. A beautiful courtyard greeted us upon entering the said place. It was full of healthy and green trees and other plants. We took lots of pictures and wandered around the place. We found a museum inside and I was surprised since I became interested to read about the history of the place. There were lots paintings and historical artifacts which depicted pieces of it’s history. I felt like I was travelling back when Fort San Pedro was built, 1565. It was like a time travel experience but without the use of a time machine or tearing the space-time continuum. The day went by just like that, we were taking pictures, talking and laughing together. It was really memorable for me since it was my first bonding time with my roommates.

Here are the pictures that I have taken with my roommates 🙂

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When our professor told us to make a travel blog, I though maybe going to Taoist temple, Temple of Leah or Tops would be a good idea but for some reason, I remembered Fort San Pedro. So I thought, why not make a travel piece about it?

With that, I went to Fort San Pedro again but this time with two of my classmates since I need to take some pictures of some places which I wasn’t able take pictures of the last time I went there. We were wandering around, taking pictures of certain things and learning new stuff at the same time since we were also reading the writings that were posted on walls and on other places. At that time, there were so may tourists, both local and international. Mostly were from asian countries like China and Korea 😀 They look like they were having fun. They were taking pictures and learning about the fort’s history as well as Cebu’s history. They seem really interested in knowing more about the place and I find it good to know that other people from different countries are interested to learn about our culture and history 😊

I was still having fun and learning new things through exploring even though it’s already my second time there. I still felt like I was time travelling.

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A peek into the past: Fort San Pedro’s History

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Fuerza de San Pedro is a military defence structure built by the Spanish under the command of Miguel López de Legazpi, first governor of the Captaincy General of the Philippines. It got it’s name from Miguel Lopez de Legazpi’s flagship “San Pedro” in which he sailed the Pacific Ocean. They started the building of Fort San Pedro on May 8, 1565 eleven days after their arrival in Cebu with Legazpi himself breaking the ground.

The original fort was made of wood and built after the arrival of Legazpi and his expedition.

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Picture of Fort San Pedro when it was still made of wood

 

In the early 17th century it was made into a stone fort to repel Muslim raiders.

It is the oldest triangular bastion fort in the country. During the Philippine Revolution at the end of the 19th century, it was attacked and taken by Filipino revolutionaries, who used it as a stronghold.

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Little was known about the activity of the fort from the time it was built until two centuries later in 1739 when the King of Spain, Philip V, desired information regarding the island of Cebu. Governor-general Tamón, who was the Spanish ruler of the islands at the time made the following report:

“Fuerte San Pedro, the fort is described as built of stone mortar with a terreplein where guns are mounted. The fort contains the necessary buildings. The largest of these buildings was the Cuerpo de Guardia where the personnel that manned the fort lived. Adjacent to it was the viviendadel teniente which was the living quarters of the lieutenant of the fort. In between the aforementioned buildings is a well. At one corner attached to the walls of the bastión San Miguel (NE) was the Almacenes de Pólvora (powder magazine)”

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Believe it or not, Fort San Pedro has been transformed and has served many functions. It became a part of the American Warwick Barracks, converted into school rooms, a Japanese refuge during the World War II, served as an emergency hospital for the wounded, an army camp, became a miniature garden, turned into a zoo then restored back to it’s original form and was turned over to the City Government from Philippine Tourism Authority on February 1, 2008. I was really amazed of the multi-functional purposes this fort can do. 😃
In the present, it serves as a popular tourist attraction, museum, a venue for photoshoots and other related purposes.

Here are some picrures that I took inside the museum 🙂

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What else is in Fort San Pedro?

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You can find an image of the Nuestra Señora de la Cotta a.k.a Our Lady of the Fort, the Virgen of Remedies near a wishing well which is called as Pozo dela Virgen.

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According to the book by Lutgarda Aviado, entitled “Madonnas of the Philippines,” the original image of Nuestra Senora dela Cotta of Cebu, also known as ‘Birhen sa Cota sa Sugbo,’ was found floating inside a well located in Fort San Pedro, around the years 1572-1575. The image is made in the European style (de tallado or Istilo de Europa), details and clothes entirely carved. The venerated image was enshrined in Cota San Pedro. It gained many devotees. The waters from the well were also said to have miraculous powers. Because of healings attributed to Our Lady and the waters, she was given the name Nuestra Senora delos Remedios or ‘Mahal na Birhen ng mga lunas’.
See more at: http://www.marianmessenger.ph/index.php/events/52-nuestra-senora-dela-cotta-of-cebu-also-known-as-birhen-sa-cota-sa-sugbo

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According to some stories, the remaining bones of the American and Japanese soldiers were thrown in the well. There had been some suspicious incidents like faucets turning on and off, computers being weird and reports of ghosts seen in the pictures of tourists. Every year during the founding anniversary of the fort on May 8, there would be a mass and blessing of the fort to keep evil spirits away but they would always come back. A priest suggested that they would transfer the bones to a cementery with proper burial rites and all the mysterious incidents stopped. Was that the end of the hauntings in Fort San Pedro? Well, believe it or not, while I was taking a picture of the well, I saw an orb. An orb is said to be some form of a spirit that’s still wandering around in our world. Is it possible that there are still some spirits remaining and lurking around the fort? Maybe.. 😮👻😶😕

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But despite these stories, Fort San Pedro is a great place to visit if you want to relax and experience time travelling. It is also a great place for photoshoots and other things. Plus, it’s just inside the city so there are lots of fast food chains around and transportaion is readily available 👍👌👏😏😆😉😄😁

 

I hope this travel piece of mine made you satisfied and interested to travel to places like Fort San Pedro 😁😀

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