I’d been to Intramuros for several occasions already since my college years, however, I always missed Fort Santiago. It was probably because it was paid fortress or I had little interest with Philippine history those times. It was only during my tax-paying years when I got this strong sense of nationalism. Unfortunately, by the moment my interest about our past surged, my time resources plunged.
Until recently, I was able to make time and finally experienced the one of the most significant remnants of our past. The admission fee is just ₱75 for adults and ₱50 for students.
Immediately after the fort entrance is a well-landscaped Plaza Moriones.
The area houses souvenir shops, eateries, and picnic tables for family bonding as well as historical nooks and large ammunition openly displayed (I hoped they no longer work).
The other end of Plaza Moriones is the famous landmark of Intramuros, the Fort Santiago gate. In front of it is a small pond where pink lotuses bloom.
Fort Santiago, by the way, was built in 1714 but was destroyed during the Battle of Manila in 1945. The restoration efforts in 1982 actually brought back the fortress’ former look.
Previously, I mentioned that Fort Santiago is one of the most significant piece of Philippine history. Because it is where our National Hero, Dr Jose Rizal, was tried, detained, and wrote his final literary works including the farewell letter, Mi último adiós. Charges against him were rebellion, sedition, and conspiracy leading to his death by firing squad on December 30, 1986.
At present, Fort Santiago is the host to Rizal Shrine that houses the important memorabilia, life and works, collections, the clothes he wore during his execution, and his bone relic.
The shrine also houses sections like the Contemplation Room (Silid ng Pagninilay), the Prison Cell (Ang Piitan Ni Jose Rizal), Chamber of Texts (Bulwagan ng Panunulat), the The Valedictory Poem (Ang Tulang Walang-Hanggan), and the Reliquary Room (Silid ng Nalalabi).
The tour at Fort Santiago, more particularly the Rizal Shrine was really an eye opener. We learned these stuff on the more distant past but the feeling was different when we re-explore and seeing the actual remains.
Fort Santiago is open from 8AM to 6PM daily but Rizal Shine accommodates guests Tuesdays through Saturdays only from 8AM to 4PM.