Fort San Pedro


Fort San Pedro

Fuerza de San Pedro is a military defence structure, built by Spanish and indigenous Cebuano labourers under the command of Spanish conquistador, Miguel López de Legazpi and the Spanish Government in Cebu. It is located in the area now called Plaza Indepedencia, in the Pier Area of Cebu City, Philippines.

The smallest, oldest triangular bastion fort in the country was build in 1738 to repel Muslim raiders. In turns, it served as a stronghold for Filipino revolutionaries. This served as the nucleus of the first Spanish settlement in the Philippines. It has a total inside area of 2,2025 sq. Meters. The walls are convert|20|ft|m high, convert|8|ft|m thick and the towers are convert|30|ft|m high from the ground level. Work first started on May 8, 1565 with Miguel Lopéz de Legazpi breaking the ground.

The fort is triangular in shape, with two sides facing the sea and the third side fronting the land. The two sides facing the sea were defended with artillery and the side with a strong palisade made of wood. The fort served as nucleus of the first establishment settlement in the Philippines.

The three bastions were named La Concepcion (SW); Ignacio de Loyola (SE), and San Miguel (NE). The circumference is convert|1248|ft|m. The sides are of unequal lengths and the one fronting the city is the main gate. Total inside area is 2,025.6 sq.m. The walls are convert|20|ft|m high, convert|8|ft|m thick and the towers are convert|30|ft|m|abbr=on. high from the ground level, 14 cannons were mounted in their emplacements most of which are still there today.

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 II desired information of the Island Governor General Tanon, who was the Spanish ruler of the Islands at the time made the following reports:

"Fuerza San Pedro, the fort is described as built of stone mortar with a terreplein where guns are mounted. The fort contained the necessary building. The large of these was the "Cuerpo de Guardia" where the personnel that manned the fort lived. Adjacent to it was the "Vivende del Teniente" which was the living quarter of the lieutenent of the Fort. In between the aforementioned buildings is a well. At one corner attached to the walls of the bastion San Miguel (NE) was the "Alamazaros del Rivera" (powder magazine where the fort's supply or arms and gunpowder from Manila were stored)."
[ [http://www.philtourism.gov.ph/spl_places_fortsp.html Special Places of Interest - Fort San Pedro ] ]

Timeline

The victory of the Americans led by Commodore Dewey at the Battle of Manila Bay in 1898 marked the end of the Spanish era. The fort was then surrendered by the Spaniards to the Cebuano rebels.

Fort San Pedro became a part of the Americans Warwick Barracks during the American Regime. In later years from 1937 to 1941 the barracks were converted into a school where many Cebuanos received their formal education. During World War II from 1942 to 1945, Japanese took refuge. When the battle for liberation was fought, the fort served as an emergency hospital for the wounded.

From 1946 to 1950, Fort San Pedro was an army camp. After 1950, the Cebu Garden Club took over and fixed the inner part into a miniature garden.

Although already in ruins, the upper deck was utilized for different offices. First as a clinic of the City Health, as office of the Presidential Arm and Community Development then the City Public Works Unit used the ruins of the Lieutenant's Quarters as a field office.

In 1957 the city council commissioned "The Lamplighter", a religious sect, to manage a zoo subsidized by the city within the fort courtyard.

By 1968, the facade, quarters and walls of the original structures of Fort San Pedro were so obliterated that only the two towers were recognizable. Plans for the restoration of the fort was started and the zoo was relocated.

Plans and estimates for the restoration of the fort were completed by Architect Leonardo Concepcion, who had completed his MA in Restoration in Madrid. The project was jointly funded by the Board of Travel Industry (now Department of Tourism), the Cebu City Government, and the Cebu Zonta Club.

The Fort San Pedro Restoration is a tedious, time and labor consuming project. To restore the fort as close to the original as possible, coral stones which are hauled from under the sea along Cebu coastal towns were utilized. Delivered crudely cut to the restoration site, the fort laborers did the final cutting and polishing to make the blocks fit each other.

Work progressed slowly but the facade, the main building, (Cuerpor de Guardia), the walk and the observatory roof garden were faithfully restored after one and a half years. To make the project functional; the restored main building serves then as the Cebu Office of the Department of Tourism, the Lieutenent's Quarters now housed a museum, the inner court is an open air theater and its immediate vicinity as a park.

At present, it is under the care and administration of the City of Cebu, as historical park. The land on which it is situated is owned by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources.

These days, the fort is converted into a museum. Inside the fort houses the legacies of the Spanish Government. The well preserved Spanish artifacts such as the documents written in Spanish, paintings and sculpture. Also inside the fort are prison dungeons, living rooms, bedrooms, school rooms, a chapel and an oasis garden. A large statue of Legazpi and Antonio Pigafetta is erected outside the fort. The museum also houses old coins dating back to the time of the Spanish colonization of the Philippines.

References

External links

* [http://www.philtourism.gov.ph/spl_places_fortsp_fac.html]
* [http://www.flickr.com/search/?q=fort+san+pedro (Photos)]
* [http://www.cebucentral.com/attractions/Fort_San_Pedro.html Fort San Pedro]


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