Damilisan Baluarte Brgy. Damilisan, Miagao, Iloilo Photo from: LGU Miagao

As an early centre of Catholicism in Southern Iloilo, Damilisan (5 kms west of Miagao), was subjected to Moro pirate attacks during the early Spanish colonial period. Commissioned by an order of friars known as La Campana, Damilisan’s Baluarte was built of readily available materials (coral shells and limestone) to serve as a watch tower and defense base.

The largest recorded raid took place on May 7, 1754. Arriving on 21 boats, pirates landed at Baybay Norte and swarmed into the town. After fierce fighting, the Miagaowanons, under the leadership of a Spanish Officer, Jose Echevarria, drove them back to their boats. They later returned and landed at Damilisan but were again repulsed under the leadership of Francisco Arburo, whose forces were supported financially by Don Baltazar Javier, one of the richest men in the poblacion.

Although today only a stump remains, visitors will agree that the ruins are impressive enough to warrant being called a “baluarte” (meaning a strongly fortified defensive structure in the local language).