Fort of Datu Bago in Davao - Philippines

If you would go to Davao, you’d hardly notice the marker that stands in one corner of the park that is located between Quezon Boulevard and Bonifacio Street in Davao City. This area in the city is called the Fort of Datu Bago. Unless, you don’t bother to really know what the marker stands for, however, you wouldn’t know that the Fort of Datu Bago is where the original fort actually stood when Don Jose Oyanguren, the Spanish conquistador, and his soldiers together with ship crew and Spanish settlers stood in order to assault and defeat the Moros.

Nowadays, it is that marker that actually stands for the long battle between the Moro tribe together with his soldiers and the Spanish invaders at the fort of Datu Bago. The story of this battle and the invasion of Davao by the Spanish is actually an interesting story.

The fall of the fort of Datu Bago did not just happen overnight. It actually took more than a year of travel from Manila before the Spanish soldiers, settlers and crews reach Davao. Ironically, there were only 70 people aboard that ship who battled the tribe leader and his soldiers at the fort of Datu Bago. The Moros’ lantakas, however, stood no chance against artilleries, muskets and gunpowder. Indeed, the Spaniards came with enough armaments to subdue an entire tribe and their proud leader. The Spaniards came prepared since they fully intend to end the reign of the Moros and their datu.

It also didn’t help the Moro tribe leader that the Samales tribe actually helped the Spanish invaders. The Samales tribe, seeing that the Spanish could actually end the oppressive reign of Datu Mama Bago, helped the Spaniards overpower and eventually overthrow Datu Bago.

What most people didn’t know when they stand before the Fort of Datu Bago is that the attack at the original fort was premeditated. In fact, it was an act of revenge. Prior to the invasion of Oyanguren, a ship first visited the Moro tribe in Davao. They were lured into thinking that the Moros, led by Datu Mama Bago, were friendly and meant them no harm. However, a large band of the tribe went aboard the ship. They attacked the crew and colonizers aboard, pillage the ship and then torched it.

Oyanguren and his soldiers found it hard to actually subdue the fort of Datu Bago. The Moros could easily see the enemies approached from the big fort that they built on top of a hill beside the Davao River. The Spaniards even failed in their first attempt and they had to turn back with their dead and wounded soldiers and crews. The fort was eventually subdued when the Spaniards changed tactics and attached the fort by foot. The battle lasted for three months. The Moros only surrendered after they realized that they did not have enough gunpowder to win the battle.

The history of the present Fort of Datu Bago is certainly interesting. Perhaps, when you visit Davao and you stood in front of the marker, you’d know how the story unfolded and how the proud Datu Bago fell from power. This marker found in the Fort of Datu Bago actually marks the beginning of Davao as it is now. This marks the day when the Spanish were able to conquer Mindanao, so you should never leave Davao without visiting the Fort of Datu Bago.



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