THE centuries-old Fort San Pedro is one of Iloilo City’s historical landmark. It has, however, deteriorated thru years of neglect.
Now, there is a move to restore Fort San Pedro and develop it into a tourist spot.
• 1603-1616 – Inclusive years when the Spanish government constructed La Fuerza de San Pedro (Fort San Pedro) on a 2,564-square meter property at the Iloilo City waterfront for defense against Dutch and English invaders. The materials used for the fortress were earthworks and wood palisades.
• 1617 – A Dutch squadron of 10 warships engaged the Spanish defenders manning the fort. The Dutch lost the battle.
• 1738 – The Spanish government reconstructed Fort San Pedro, using 30-feet thick stone walls and installing 50 guns and mortars.
• 1899 – Invasion of the Fort by American invaders. At first, the Fort defenders repelled the invaders. On another day, however, a reinforcement of American marines forced the surrender of Spanish defenders. The Fort became a stronghold of the US Navy.
• 1937 – The US Navy turned over Fort San Pedro to the Philippine Army, which turned it into its headquarters.
• 1941-1945 – During World War II, the invading Japanese forces drove the Army out and took over Fort San Pedro, which also served as dungeon for arrested Filipino guerillas.
• March 1945 – Combined forces from the United States Navy and the United States Air Force bombed all Japanese installations in Iloilo City, including Fort San Pedro, which literally perished.
• May 4, 1986 – Consorcia B. Cordova of La Paz, Iloilo City filed a miscellaneous lease application with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) for occupancy of Fort San Pedro and establishment of a drive-in restaurant thereat.
• July 10, 1986 – The DENR issued an investigation report recommending the issuance of lease contract to Cordova.
• May 21, 1991 – Cordova and the DENR entered into a 25-year miscellaneous lease agreement – for period covering February 13, 1991 to February 12, 2016 – for use of the property as a drive-in restaurant, the Fort San Pedro Drive-in at the annual rental fee of P36,783.68.
• July 22 and September 18, 1991 – Consorcia Cordova and her husband, Carlos Cordova, died, respectively.
• July 5, 1994 – Transfer of lease contract from the late Consorcia Cordova to her heirs.
• April 14, 1998 – The Department of Tourism (DOT), through Regional Director Edwin Trompeta, wrote a letter to then DENR Regional Executive Director Raoul Geollegue in connection with DOT’s intention to restore Fort San Pedro as a tourist destination. Before it could act on the DOT proposal, however, the DENR had to rescind the lease contract with the children-heirs of the late Corsorcia Cordova. The DENR withdrew the rescission after the heirs contested it in court.
• October 13, 1998 – Trompeta wrote a letter to then Philippine Ports Authority-Iloilo Manager Christian Santillan requesting the PPA to provide a 30-meter buffer zone out of its reclaimed area for conservation of the existing remains of the Fort.
• May 11, 1999 – Trompeta submitted to Sen. Franklin Drilon the preliminary study/design of the proposed Fort San Pedro Conservation Project done by the United Architects of the Philippines, Iloilo Marikudo Chapter.
• January 31, 2003 – The DENR, represented by then Regional Director Raoul Geollegue, signed a memorandum of understanding with the Cordovas reinstating the latter’s occupancy of the leased Fort until expiration date on February 12, 2016; or, in case of rehabilitation of the Fort before that date, a portion of it for restaurant.
• October 2, 2004 – The DENR formally turned over to the DOT the management of Fort San Pedro through a memorandum of agreement signed by DENR Regional Director Vicente Paragas, DOT Regional Director Edwin Trompeta and the heirs of Consorcia Cordova.
• September 15, 2010 – Trompeta wrote a letter to DOT Secretary Alberto Lim requesting for a budget of P100 million for the restoration of Fort San Pedro, which has already been certified by the National Historical Institute as a “historical structure.” It would house a museum, a marine aquarium, a restaurant, a curio shop, an information office and an open-air venue for art and cultural performances.