History of Fuerza de Santa Isabel

Fuerza de Santa Isabel was first built as a wood palisade in 1667 under the Augustinian Recollect Fathers. After 71 years of forced labor (POLO) 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. 

“A lovely little fort- beautiful architecture, plants and views; a great place to sit and relax”

“We are very happy to spend time relaxing in this welcoming and pretty town. We would love to return and would recommend it to others. Many thanks!” – Jayne and Don

“The most beautiful place in the Philippines. Very special. Thank you” –KH Love (Australia)

Comments from Visitors of Fuerza de Santa Isabel

“Amazing area, deserving of much greater attention from the tourists traveling the northern Palawan. Beautiful and charming staff” – Professor O. Shipin from Thailand, South Africe and Russia 

“ Visiting Fuerza de Santa Isabel is worth the trip. It’s like getting the picture of the Philippines, and Palawan for that matter, during the Spanish era. I’m going to recommend this place to my foreign relatives and friends” 

Very Interesting and beautiful. I want to stay here forever. I hope to visit here again” 

“What a lovely, tranquil place. The fort is impressive and the gardens lovely. A treasure – we are so glad we stopped”

“We have traveled here from Puerto Princessa today and Taytay is a very quiet, comfortable place to stop off. The Fort is well worth a visit and has sweeping views of the bay and town centre. The gardens are beautifully maintained and it’s an interesting touch of the past!!” – Andrew Kledzik (England)

“Excellent, one of the best presented historical sites that we have seen in our 6 months in the Philippines. Keep up the great work!”