Fuerza de Santa Isabel in Taytay

Photo courtesy of http://xplorerboyz.blogspot.com

Photo courtesy of http://xplorerboyz.blogspot.com

Fuerza de Sta. Isabel is a quadrilateral fort with four bastions each of which has a bartisan. Each bastion is attributed to following Saints; San Toribio, San Miguel, San Juan and Sta. Isabel. The stone fortress was built by the Augustinian Recollects in 1738. The fortress is made out of stone walls. A chapel is erected inside the fortress.

Fuerza de Santa Isabel was first built as a wood palisade in 1667 under the Augustinian Recollect Fathers. After 71 years of forced labor and material contributions by the subject Taytayanos, it was completed as a stone fort in December 17, 1738 by Tomas Castro, the Spanish military engineer, under the command of Capitan Josef Tierra de Salcedo.  In 1700, the first batch of 100 exiles or DISTIREROS from Luzon and Visayas were recruited to help in the construction of the fort.

It was constructed to protect the inhabitants from the attacks of the Moro pirates from Sulu who hide from the mask of piracy to fight the spread of Spanish colonization and the growth of Christianity. The Spanish occupation was also a threat to the long standing trade relationship among the Moros, Chinese, Malaysians and the local inhabitants. From 1730 to 1739, Datu Bigotillo and 3,800 Moro pirates were sent by Maulana-Diafar Sabiesa, the Sultan of Jolo to take over the Fortress of Taytay. The fort was a colossal obstacle in their piratical forays.The fort is roughly quadrilateral with bastions and garitas at the corners. The bastions are named after San Toribio, Santa Isabel, San Juan and San Manuel. The fort was molded and wrought out of the contour of a solid rock, it is a magnificent edifice that stands as a lasting symbol of a rich historical heritage.Don Geronimo SunDillon was the first hero of Taytay. During the 21 days siege posted by the Moro pirates in 1739, Sundillon was captured. The pirates asked him to point the secret passage of the fort, but instead, exposed the pirates to the fort sentries, thus curtailing their plan of a surprised attack. Bigotillo, when he discovered that Sundillon had betrayed him, commanded his men to torture him. He died as a martyr and saved the local inhabitants and the Spanish people from further aggression.During the siege of the Moro pirates, the legend of Santa Monica, the patron saint, dressed in white garment, her identity unknown, advised them to boil water asnd fats extracted from the slaughtered cows and carabaos. It was poured down on the scaling pirates, causing the walls to be slippery and scalding the marauders as well. It sent the attackers to their surrender. They re-embarked and sail back to Jolo, never to bother the Taytayanos again.

The Fuerza de Sta Isabel is currently listed on the tentative lists of UNESCO’s World Heritage List.

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