Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Philippines - Fort Santiago

I spent 2 days in Vigan City and by the end of the second day, I took the night bus back to Manila for a quick stop at Fort Santiago before heading to the airport for my afternoon flight. It was rather rush though I calculated that I will have about 6 hours of exploration in Intramuros. That amount of time was cut short when the bus broke down halfway along the ride and we had to wait for a new bus. Luckily, it did not derail my plan and I still manage to visit Fort Santiago.

Fort Santiago

Fort Santiago is one of Philippines' oldest stone fortresses built during the Spanish colonization. Located in the northern part of Intramuros, the fortress has undergone many reconstructions after sustaining heavy damages over the years, especially during World War II. Today, this national monument is part of a historical park and a popular tourist attraction.

The fortress, up close

Ruins left during the war

The park encompasses the fort, ruins, bastions and plazas. However, the main attraction, besides the Fort Santiago gate, is the Rizal Shrine. After all, this fortress also served as the prison site for Jose Rizal, Philippines' national hero, before his execution.

Some of his works

Jose Rizal was a nationalist beloved by his countrymen. He was also a man of many talents. Besides being a doctor, he was also a novelist, poet and sculptor. However, his greatest gift to the country has to be his revolutionary works.

The room where Jose Rizal was held captive before being executed

The reconstructed building that was used to imprison him before execution is now a museum dedicated to his life's works. Rizal Shrine has an extensive collections of memorabilia of Jose Rizal. His works and sculptures are on display for the public to admire. This is also the place where he penned his last poem, Mi Ultimo Adios (My Last Farewell), concealed in an oil lamp that his family discovered. You can also traced the trail he took towards his execution which was imprinted in bronze plate on the road.

Other than Rizal Shrine, Fort Santiago also offers the one of the best views of Pasig River. Head to Baluarte de Santa Barbara which now houses the Rizaliana Furniture Exhibit (entrance fee required) and you get to see the river from the best point of view.

Pasig River

The entrance fee to Fort Santiago costs PHP 75 for adult and PHP 50 for student or children. It opens daily from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. 

*TO BE CONTINUED*

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