Lakbay Rizal – Metro Manila: Fort Santiago
The Fort Santiago is an almost triangular citadel in Intramuros, the old walled city of Manila. It was built in 1590 by Miguel Lopez de Legazpi as part of the city’s defenses against pirates and bandits. It was named after St. James the Great, the patron saint of Spain. The relief of the saint adorns the facade of the front gate which is now one of the iconic symbols of the city.
Among the many soldiers and prisoners that have stayed at Fort Santiago, Jose Rizal perhaps is its most famous resident. The National Hero of the Philippines was incarcerated here from November 3 to December 29, 1896. He was later found guilty of the charges of rebellion, sedition and conspiracy, all of which merited death by execution.
On the evening of December 29, Rizal was transferred from his prison cell to an improvised chapel cell. The following morning, he was then escorted all the way to Bagumbayan, now called Luneta, where a firing squad awaits. Rizal’s long walk is now immortalized with the bronze footprints installed from the chapel up to the Fort Santiago’s front gate.
There are now many anecdotal explanations as to why the footprints are placed too closely to each other and why they all disappear after the front gate. These bronze steps are fairly recent additions in the park, so for those who want authenticity, the Rizal Shrine museum in the Fort Santiago will not disappoint. Inside are various Rizal memorabilia such as his chipped vertebra, the actual copy of the Mi Ultimo Adios and the alcohol stove where it was inserted and many more. All these provide enduring reminders and interesting insights of both Jose Rizal’s life and death.
The stamps for the Fort Santiago sites of the Lakbay Rizal @150 could be obtained at the Rizal Shrine within the complex. The park is open from 8:00 – 12:00 noon and 1:00 – 5:00 PM from Tuesdays to Saturdays, 1:00 – 5:00 PM on Mondays . A Php75.00 entrance fee is collected at the entrance. Photos may be taken inside the Rizal Shrine museum, provided that the camera flash is disabled.