Studies about fortress’ impact on a specific area, particularly in Muslim dominated Sulu Archipelago, are extremely rare despite the several papers on the Spanish fortifications in the Philippines. Following the examination of historical sources, this study departs from ambiguous and sometimes even disputed, commonly held notions about Spanish forts, i.e. (1) usually connotes to war; and (2) a channel of negative effect. Archival documents and secondary sources were obtained — illustrating a clear picture of Fort Isabella II’s roles in developing a small village in Basilan known to the locals as Pasangan. An examination of these sources yields the following: (1) Spain’s motivations in fortifying the island, (2) reasons behind the existence of a Sulu raiders’ base in Basilan, (3) the intention of the French Mission in Basilan, and (4) the conditions and nature of the indigenous Yakans. More so, circumstances precipitated the island’s complex conditions shrouding the inhabitants’ existence into obscurity, and impeding growth, which triggered several affected villagers to ally with foreign powers or more powerful chieftains, or to migrate to the latter’s domain. Thus, contrary to what has often been presumed, the problematic situations had, in fact, led to shared efforts between the inhabitants (Christian settlers, Samals, Tausugs, Iranuns, Badjaos and Yakans) and the Spanish Fort Isabella II leading to the development of Pasangan, presently called Isabela City. The paper concludes that the building of Fort Isabella II laid down the foundation of the development of Basilan. Lastly, this paper strongly argues that growth and peace anchored on the introduction of genuine governance and order, had positive effects in Fort Isabella’s case, such as public health, education, and respect for one’s faith, security, and economic opportunity.
Keywords: Sulu Archipelago, Pasangan, Sulu raiders, Fort Isabella II.
Edwin Flores Pamaran is a Full-time faculty and currently the Graduates Studies Program Coordinator of the School of Management and Accountancy, Ateneo de Zamboanga University. He obtained his Master’s degree in Business Administration from the same university.
His research interest focuses on the field of local history and culture. He authored a book entitled KALUN: A Basilan Odyssey published in 2018, and was launched the same year at the Samar State University, Catbalogan City, during the 39th Local & National Conference of the Philippine National Historical Society.
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