Fort Santiago is part of the walled city in Intramuros, Manila that took us back in time of the Spanish Colonization, American Colonial Period, World War II and memorabilia of the Philippines’ National Hero, Dr. Jose Rizal. It still stands strong as a faithful reminder to the Filipinos of the dark past and bright future. It is one of the few structures left of the past since Manila was the 2nd most devastated city during World War II.
Inside Fort Santiago, we saw footsteps of Rizal from Fort Santiago to Rizal Park (Luneta), where he was shot by the Spaniards. We also visited the Rizal Museum, where we learned more about the life and works of Dr. Jose Rizal. He became the national hero of the Philippines simply because he fought for reforms and freedom in a more humble and peaceful but strong and effective way through his writings (novels: El Felibusterismo and Noli Me Tangere; and essays) rather than through the use of force or revolution or aggression while he was studying medicine in Spain. Also, through his writings, he exposed the immorality of the Spanish colonial rule. Because of this, he was then arrested, exiled, tried, convicted and executed by public firing squad on December 30, 1896 when he came home; and about 2 years after his execution, the Philippines were liberated from the Spanish Regime.
While strolling around the place, I have learned that:
- Fort Santiago was built by the Spaniards in 1571. This place is one of the most important sites during the Spanish colonial times as it served several functions such as a fortress, a place for incarcerations, torture, and death to some Filipinos especially those who dared to oppose the Spaniards during their 333 years of rule in the Philippines.
- Dr Jose P. Rizal, was detained there before he was executed by firing squad on the 30th of December 1896.
- When America took us from Spain during the Spanish-American War, the fort was used as headquarters for the US-Army. They first raised the American flag there to mark the start of the American rule that lasted for about 48 years.
- During World War II and after the attack on the Pearl Harbor, Japanese captured the fort and invaded the Philippines for about 4 years. They used the fort as prison and torture sites where thousands of Filipinos and Americans men, women and children were tortured and killed.
- Today, the fort is part of the historical park of the country. Several arts and music festivals are being held throughout the years by some non-profit organization. It is now managed by the Intramuros Administration, an agency attached to the Department of Tourism.
As we walked further up, we saw dungeons which served as execution chambers. This dungeons are just above sea level and when the tide rises the prisoners get flooded and drowned to death.
My family and I really loved the place – beautiful architecture, so much history here between different countries, beautiful artifacts, stunning view, and cool breeze. To me, it was such a privilege to show the place to my family as it’s so nice to look back at our history and to appreciate and honor those who fought for the freedom of our country. Certainly, Fort Santiago is definitely worth a visit.
Little Lilly travel tips:
- Small children can roam around, explore and see for themselves an important part of our (the Philippines’) history.
- Picnic is allowed in the area.
- It is open daily from 8AM till 6PM with a reasonable entrance fees – Php 75 ($0.75) for an adult and Php 50 ($0.50) for a child.