When the Spaniards came to the Philippines, the archipelago was plagued by Moro slave traders who would raid seaside villages every so often. To protect the townspeople from these raiders, the Spaniards built stone watchtowers to give locals a heads up against marauders roaming the coastal area.
Aside from watching out for pirates, these structures were built as watchtowers for the voyages of galleons travelling from Mexico to the Philippines and back. These structures guided galleons away from pirates. They were called “Bantayan sa Hari” by the locals. The term Bantayan sa Hari means Watchtower of the King, with the king apparently referring to the King of Spain. These watchtowers were on a constant lookout for raiders in the area. Once these marauders are spotted, a warning was sent out to the locals who would seek refuge from the raiders.
These watchtowers lined the coast of Cebu and serve as one of the links to the interesting history of the island. There are only a few of these structures surviving today. While some of these watchtowers are well-preserved, such as the one found in Liloan, some of them are in a sorry state.
The National Commission on Culture and the Arts or the NCCA has been working on restoring them. The Bantayan sa Hari in Mandaue City was among the structures that received attention from the NCCA. In 2010, Fr. Harold Rentoria called for the restoration of the watchtower located in Looc, Mandaue following his visit to the site as part of the "Dia del Galeon" or the "Day of the Galleon" celebration. Fr. Rentoria said the NCCA is willing to provide assistance to the local government in an effort to restore the historic landmark.
The Bantayan sa Hari in Mandaue City was one of the stops during the annual Gabii sa Kabilin organized by the Ramon Aboitiz Foundation, Inc. Have you visited one of these historical structures recently? Tell us about the experience on the comments section below.
Lola Pureza's Peanut Browas, a taste of old Cebu.
Available in leading supermarkets and pasalubong shops.