24 April 2007

Fort Santiago

Fort Santiago is a defense settlement established during the Spanish era. There were also dungeons here, where infidels and rebels were kept and tortured. This place is more popularly known as the place where the national hero Dr. Jose Rizal spent his final moments before facing the firing squad on December 29, 1896.

I found myself in Manila one weekend for work reasons. It's a half-day affair on saturdays, and soon I found myself staring at the office ceiling. Trek buddy Ruben invited me for an afternoon of cultural enlightenment and photography session at Fort Santiago. I have never been to the place. Intramuros, sure, but never Fort Santiago. So we were off to the Fort!

A ticket costs 40 pesos for adults.

Shops line up the entrance, selling paintings and souvenir items.

This "tunnel" leads to the chapel below.

In the heat of the afternoon sun, the chapel was surprisingly cool, with air passageways at the sides of the chapel.

You can just imagine what an imposing fortress this was! It still is. Notice the "line" at the middle of the entrance? This is a set of footsteps preserved in metal. This commemmorates the final steps of Dr. Jose Rizal to meet his fate.

This was also a very cool place. We were quite afraid to go into this cellar / dungeon, our imagination getting the best of us. We tiptoed downstairs. It was completely dark. And cool too. At the bottom of the stairs, we let our cameras flash to light up whatever lay ahead then dashed upstairs. Our cameras revealed a very spacious room. We wondered if this was a windowless dungeon.

Cannons were scattered about the fort. This was indeed food for thought for me, especially after reading Phil's blog on his take about the Spanish occupation of the Philippines. We have such a rich history and culture from the Spanish occupation (how many of us proudly say that we have Spanish blood?), and yet not many people do realize that it wasn't exactly 300 years of love, peace and harmony. This fort, an impressive symbol of Spanish domination at that time, imprisoned Filipino Nationalists, among them one of the greatest Filipinos ever. A thing of beauty with a violent past.

Yet, you realize that it is indeed important to look back and remember your past, for it will forever be part of your present and future.

When you drop by Manila, visiting Fort Santiago should be part of your itinerary. Check out Hotel reservations in Manila for convenient booking.


Saw this in Alternati's blog:

One Day Blog Silence

On April 30, let us all pause in silence for the victims at Virginia Tech, and for the others who fell victim to similar circumstances.


  1. My first time in Ft Santiago was '83 and I NEVER tire of it. You can practically FEEL your history in that place.

    You left out how the Japanese used it for the same evil purposes as the Spanish did. During the occupation, thousands of Filipinos were held there under the most horrible conditions imaginable. Thousands died there along with hundreds of US POWs.

    Want to feel the presence of ghosts, go to Ft Santiago.

  2. Hey Phil, it also feels like you're in another place and time. Not very hard to imagine the ladies wearing Maria Claras and the guys in their barong tagalogs and versions thereof. No Levi's.

  3. It is indeed a nice place. It is not difficult to imagine yourself living in the past. It is also a very peaceful place when there are no students on a school trip around.

  4. ang galing mo naman watson, ako yung nag-photography lessons sa Fort Santiago, pero mas magaganda kuha mo dun :D

    one other Fort I went to was the one in Palawan... where my hubs' family came from. That time, he was almost in tears to have walked the same grounds as his great grandfather did... :)

  5. Sidney: when we went there, only a handful of tourists were taking leisurely strolls. It is indeed a place for artistic pursuits

    Mec: pumapalakpak tenga ko. hehehe

  6. Anonymous4:12 pm

    Wonder what kind of sounds and creatures we see if we install a remote video camera at night then view it live from 12 midnight to 3am? Hmmmmm.....
    Great pics as always! Of topic: I finally did my first movie (still pics w/music and video effects. But some pics became hazy or not clear on the video? Any prognosis rendered is appreciated. Again, not good at these things and doing that video alone was like a lifetime of hard labor!!! cheers....

  7. fort santiago's a nice place to visit when there's not much people around, and there's a lot of photo ops too, especially later in the afternoon when the sun is about to set. great tunnel shot! :)

  8. TruBlue: Thanks for the compliments! This is my question: do ghosts know about Halloween celebrations? How come these stories only turn up during Halloween? hehe

    About the photos in the video... If the photo is a small one, the software stretches the photo so it can accommodate the screen. Such stretching can blur the photos. Try getting a resolution higher than 72 dpi for the photos (you can also set that when you scan it). You may also instruct the software not to stretch the photo (although in the Mac's iDVD application, it stretches all photos to fit the screen).

    Send me one of the blurry photos and let me see what I can do with it and then I will share you what I have done. E-mail it at watson.online@gmail.com. So you have Photoshop?

    zherwin: thanks ha! I really appreciate the compliments for the photos I take... I'm just starting kasi.

  9. Anonymous1:40 am

    Gabi ako nakapunta dyan kasi dyan reception sa kasal nung pinsan ko. Maganda pala! Makapunta nga dyan one of these days :)

  10. Anonymous4:17 am

    ang ganda ng mga shots mo kuya, para na rin akong nakapunta sa Fort! galing!

    pag-uwi ko ng pinas, dadalaw ako dyan!

  11. ayyyy.. fort santiago. the last i was there elementary pa ako. parang gusto ko tuloy sya ulit puntahan the next time umuwi ako.

  12. College days! Studied in the intramuros area back then. Though i never got to see the whole fort Santiago noon. Nagpupunta lang kasi kami dun for practice para sa JPIA week namin. After practice, balik sa school.

  13. i will have to go back here.

  14. Sasha: Soshal naman... sa fort ang reception!

    Rho: Oo nga... siguardo mag-eenjoy rin yung mga kasama mo.

    Ate Sienna: Buti nga kayo may cultural tours... sa Baguio, hanggang museums lang kami.

    Jho: Kakaiba talaga ang place na yun. Thankfully, well-maintained sya. Pati mga restroom.

    Philo Bastard: You're welcome to visit anytime!

  15. it's been years that I haven't gone to Fort Santiago. May bayad na pala. hehehe.

  16. Anonymous9:50 am

    Nick, decided to burn (Transfer) my video on dvd and much to my surprise
    all pics out clear. Maybe viewing on PC Monitor is different than on dvd itself. I'm just doing this for fun, since my PC is capable of doing movies, hehe. Just curious how my so-called projects turn out. Thanx for the tips regardless..cheers as

  17. Anonymous9:51 am

    all pics came out clear..that's I meant to say. Thanx.

  18. Hi! I have not been back to the Philippines for 40 years. Great to see photos of Fort Santiago. Last Febuary my husband and I took a trip to Puerto Rico and we visited Fort Morro. It made us homesick because it reminded us of Intramuros and Fort Santiago.

  19. Great photos Watson. The last time I was at Fort Santiago was on a field trip in grade school. It has been a long time but I will always remember the fascinating things I've seen on that trip.

    Thanks for sharing.


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