Tuesday, July 26, 2016

National Cultural Treasure Series - FORT PILAR, Zamboanga City, Zamboanga Del Sur

Fort Pilar is an outdoor Roman Catholic Marian shrine and a museum named after and dedicated to Our Lady of the Pillar, the patroness of the Archdiocese of Zamboanga. It is the major landmark of Zamboanga City as a center of major religious pilgrimage and a symbol of the city's cultural heritage.

Fort Pilar was recognized a National Cultural Treasure on August 1, 1973. A 17th-century military defense fortress built by the Spanish colonial government in Zamboanga City, it was originally named as Real Fuerza de Nuestra Señora del Pilar de Zaragoza or Royal Fort of Our Lady of the Pillar of Zaragoza.

Fort Pilar is a unique structure in any aspects, being an open- air shrine without doors, right in the middle if the City. It is like a permanent invitation for all the Zamboangueños to come at any time of the day or night. There is probably not a single day or night Fort Pilar was found deserted of the locals, pilgrims and tourists.

The Marian Image honored at the Fort is a small replica of the original Nuestra Señora del Pilar in Saragossa, Spain. The Blessed Virgin is believed to have been watching the city and guarding Zamboanga against foreign invasions and natural calamities like quakes and tsunamis.


National Cultural Treasure Series - SAN IGNACIO DE LOYOLA PARISH, Capul, Northern Samar

Set in the middle of the San Bernardino Strait in Northern Samar is the island town of Capul - a small piece of enticing island rich in history and culture.

One of the evidences of the island's historic past (aside from the famous Capul Island Lighthouse) is the San Ignacio De Loyola Parish, a 400-year old stone church that has been declared as a National Cultural Treasure by the National Museum of the Philippines in 2014. The church is surrounded by stone walls connoting that it was more than a house of worship, as it was also a fortress and a refuge of the Capuleños during the times of Moro raids. At present it looked like a mini-Intramuros.

Capul was originally named Abak after the name of the chieftain, the deposed King Abak of Java, Indonesia. These migrants landed and settled on the island and brought with them one of the eight rarest dialects in the country - the Inabaknon.

The island is now called Capul from the word Acapulco, a contraction of the name Acapulco in Mexico where the galleon trade with Manila flourished. During the Spanish era, it became a frequent stop-over for galleons that came in and out of the Philippines during the Acapulco Trade. The island was a safe harbor for galleon traders when strong currents prevailed.


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