The unique triangular watchtower of Guinsiliban

View of the triangular fort from the outside

View of the triangular fort from the outside

Across the Philippines, and especially in southeastern Cebu, there are watchtowers built during the Spanish colonial era in an effort to avert Muslim slave raiding that was rampant especially in the middle of the 18th to the middle of the 19th centuries. These served as lookouts that alerted the populace whenever there’s a sighting of the much feared prahu, sea going vessels that were fast and used by these raiders.

READ MORE: Tea, trade and tears: the Muslim slave raids of the 18th-19th centuries, Part 1 of 3

In Guinsiliban, a southeastern town of Camiguin (de Mindanao), it has a watchtower that is unique: instead of the traditional circular and octagonal, like in Guimbal, Iloilo or square, it’s an equilateral triangule, the first time that I’ve seen one.

Like typical structures, it is made of limestone and coral stones piled on top of each other. There’s an arched entrance although I’m not sure if the original is arched as this entrance seems to have been fixed as evidenced by cement and cut limestones. There’s a stone staircase at the intersection of two walls that point to the sea. The walls are crenelated.

I don’t know when this structure was built but probably the builder was an Augustinian Recollect as Camiguin was evangelized by the order. At the top of the beautiful semicircular stone stairs, one can see sweeping views of the sea in the direction of Balingoan. On a clear day, Mt. Balatucan and Sipaca Hill can be seen.

Fr. Rene Javellana, SJ, in his book, Fortress of Empire, lists two watchtowers in the town with the other one as made of wood and no longer existing.

Close up of the wall made from limestone rocks and corals built one on top of the other

Close up of the wall made from limestone rocks and corals built one on top of the other

Detail of the entrance arch. Note the cemented parts.

Detail of the entrance arch. Note the cemented parts.

The fort with its steps that lead to a good view of the sea

The fort with its steps that lead to a good view of the sea

Another view of the main entrance from the inside

Another view of the main entrance from the inside

One corner of the crenelated walls of the fort

One corner of the crenelated walls of the fort

Closer view of the wall crenelation

Closer view of the wall crenelation

Entrance of the fort as seen from the inside

Entrance of the fort as seen from the inside

The view from the top of the fort provides a sweeping view of the sea. Sipaca Hill is in the far distance

The view from the top of the fort provides a sweeping view of the sea. Sipaca Hill is in the far distance

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