Fort Almonte: A bastion and stronghold of history

By : RAI Bollozos Sanchez Mindanao Today/08:42:19am 09/15/2021


RAI Bollozos Sanchez Historyahe!

HI there! My apologies for not being able to write these past weeks.

Tourism work allowed me to travel from most parts of region 10, and the semester has started; I got busy preparing the modules and activities for the entire semester.

One site that struck me whom I admit I did not know not until now was Fort Almonte in Lianga East, Bacolod, Lanao del Norte.

Approximately a 50-minute drive from Iligan City via Linamon-Zamboanga Road, reaching Fort Almonte is not hard to travel.

The ruin is situated right inside the Lianga East Elementary School and just right along the highway.

Upon the succession of Lieutenant-Governor Valeriano Weyler as Governor-General of the Philippines in 1888, he intensified his anti-piracy campaign and focused the operation in Mindanao.

In 1889, Governor-General Weyler visited Mindanao and personally assessed the area to further colonize the island.

From his assessment, he needs to neutralize the pirates from the interior of Lanao territory.

He also has to protect the area against invaders from Illana bay or any access within the seas of northwestern Mindanao.

Also, during at the start of the anti-piracy campaign, Spanish and native forces under the command of Col. Luis D. Huertas landed in Polloc and, by the middle of May, started their operations in Malabang.

From 1889 to 1891, an extensive campaign to pacify the pirates has become explicit.

Seeing the establish strategic control over the Liangan River and to the adjacent coastal villages.

Hence, Col. Huertas ordered Lt. Col. Cornijo to build a fort at the mouth of the Liangan River.

In honor of General Pedro Almonte, who pacified the pirates through an attack in 1639, the Spanish colonials dedicated the Fort's name on the former's behalf – Fuerte del General Almonte.

According to their local history, the inauguration of the “Fort” happened in 1891.

November of the same year, the construction continued November until 1892.

Taken from Jose Nieto Aguilar’s Su Historia y Geographia (1894), Fort Almonte’s dimension was: Almonte, in the bay of lligan, near the entrance of the strait of Panguil, there is a plateau of land formed between the Liangan river and the sea.

The enclosure includes a rectangular concrete wall of 25x30 meters, a pit of 10 meters from the parapet (a low protective barrier along the edge of a roof, bridge, or balcony), and a double staircase.

At the East and West angles of the parapet, it has two barbet batteries and at North and South two flanking towers, which at the same time serve as pavilions for officers.

There are two wooden buildings with zinc enclosures intended for troop barracks, hospitals, and other dependencies.

It is guarded by a Captain, an officer and 58 individuals of infantry troops, eight peninsular artillerymen, and an officer and 20 “disciplinarios.” [Translation mine]

Since its inception, Fort Almonte became the stronghold against the pirates.

Nonetheless, because of the revolution in Manila, the Spanish colonial government withdrew its troops from small forts and garrisons, thus leaving Fort Almonte to the native volunteers.

They abandoned after the signing of the Treaty of Paris.

According to the locals in Liangan East, after the Spanish and native forces evacuated the Fort, the Maranaos, under Sultan of Liangan, took the position of Fort Almonte and its nearby farms.

They traded peacefully with the local Christian communities in Misamis, specifically in Loculan (present-day Clarin), which could be accessed through a sailboat.

The Maranaos were in total control of the Fort until the arrival of the Americans.

The Americans took possession of the Fort when Lanao was under the Moro Province from 1903 to 1914.

Let us go back to my previous reason. Tourism work allowed me to travel to most parts of region 10, and it enabled me to explore the richness of its beauty, but most of all, it allowed me to study the wealth of its historical heritage.

Tourism work has activated the historiographer that has been in the closet for the past years.

It makes active the Benjamin Franklin Gates in me from the famous movie, “National Treasures.” Lol.

There is much to say about the history of Fort Almonte. There is much to say that the Fort played an essential role in the history of Liangan East, Bacolod, Lanao del Norte.

If I get to write extensively about the history of Fuerte del General Almonte for this column, it will perhaps take me three parts to finish off a specific period in its history.

Fuerte del General Almonte's history played an essential dimension in the Philippines' local history.

Especially the dire need to educate the importance of local history to the development of our nation.

Keep in touch with my column as there will be more historical articles about my travels in Northern Mindanao.

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