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The Punta Cruz Watchtower, also known as the Fort of Saint Vincent Ferrer or Maribojoc Watchtower, is a historic Spanish colonial era watchtower located in Maribojoc, Bohol, Philippines. It stands proudly at the western tip of the municipality, about three kilometers away from Maribojoc Church. This triangular-shaped watchtower is renowned for its unique architecture, being the "only perfect isosceles triangle" tower-fort structure in the country.
Built in 1796 under the supervision of Augustinian Recollect priest Father Manuel Sanchez de Nuestra Sra. del Tremendal, the watchtower served as a defensive structure against attacks from Moro pirates. It was constructed using sturdy cut coral stones, with the base forming a perfect isosceles triangle and connected to a shorter hexagonal tower on the second level. Inside, visitors can explore the multiple levels and observe the wooden beams that support the masonry walls.
The watchtower offers a breathtaking view of the sea, with windows providing a glimpse of the neighboring islands of Cebu, Siquijor, and Mindanao. It overlooks the Bohol channel and the island of Cebu, providing a picturesque backdrop for visitors. Despite suffering damage during the 2013 Bohol earthquake, preservation and restoration efforts have been undertaken to maintain its historical and architectural integrity.
To reach Punta Cruz Watchtower, visitors can take a short journey from Maribojoc town proper, passing a junction that leads to the tower. A small dirt road winds down towards a ridge where the tower is located. From there, a staircase leads to the second story, offering wide open portions of the walls that serve as windows, providing panoramic views of the surrounding landscape.
Although the tower itself is the main attraction, the location also offers the opportunity to explore the stony shoreline and enjoy the scenic beauty of the area. Visitors can take in the historical significance of the watchtower, appreciate its architectural design, and learn about the brave history of the town's defense against pirate attacks.
The Punta Cruz Watchtower stands as a testament to Maribojoc's rich cultural heritage and serves as a reminder of its historical significance. It is a must-visit destination for travelers seeking a glimpse into Bohol's past and a chance to appreciate its architectural beauty amidst a stunning natural backdrop.
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The Punta Cruz Watchtower stands as a stone fortress overlooking the picturesque Maribojoc Bay. With its centuries-old construction, the tower exudes an aura of mystery, appearing black and covered in moss. Climbing its damp, cold, and dark stairs may send shivers down your spine, but the reward awaits at the lookout windows. From there, you'll be treated to a breathtaking view of the bay and the neighboring islands.
As a historic monument, the Punta Cruz Watchtower attracts visitors from far and wide who come to admire its architectural beauty and capture memorable photographs. Since the tower is located away from residential and commercial areas, a small stall has been set up nearby to provide refreshments to visitors. The surrounding grounds offer a perfect setting for picnics and leisurely walks.
The watchtower, built by the Spaniards in 1796, holds significance as it was dedicated to Saint Vincent Ferrer, the patron saint of Maribojoc. It served as a strategic lookout point during a time when the town faced threats from Muslim invaders.
A wooden cross is prominently planted in a slightly indented area in front of the tower. According to legend, this cross possessed an enchanted spell that protected the people from pirates. With its arms extended towards the sea, it was believed to deter marauders and ensure the safety of the town.
Visiting the Punta Cruz Watchtower allows you to immerse yourself in history and folklore, gaining insights into the challenges faced by the town in the past. The watchtower stands as a testament to Maribojoc's resilience and provides a serene and contemplative setting for reflection and appreciation of the natural beauty that surrounds it.
The Punta Cruz Watchtower holds significant historical and cultural value, which has been officially acknowledged through various declarations. In February 2009, it received the prestigious designation of being a National Historical Landmark. The municipality of Maribojoc, in partnership with the National Historical Institute (now National Historical Commission of the Philippines), unveiled a historical marker in May 2009, commemorating its historical importance.
Furthermore, the National Museum of the Philippines recognized the Punta Cruz Watchtower as a National Cultural Treasure in August 2011. It is part of the collective group of Bohol Watchtowers, which includes Dauis, Panglao, Pamilacan, Loay, and Balilihan. These watchtowers collectively represent the historical significance of fortifications in Bohol.
The recognition of the Punta Cruz Watchtower extends beyond national boundaries. Alongside other notable fortifications such as Fuerza de Capul in Northern Samar, Dauis Watchtower in Bohol, Fuerza de San Andres in Romblon, and Fuerza de Sta. Isabel in Taytay, Palawan, it is currently under consideration for inclusion in the UNESCO World Heritage Tentative List. This acknowledgment highlights the global significance of the Spanish colonial fortifications in the Philippines.
These declarations and considerations reflect the exceptional historical and cultural value of the Punta Cruz Watchtower, making it a must-visit destination for history enthusiasts and travelers interested in experiencing the rich heritage of the Philippines.
From the Dao Terminal at Tagbilaran City, one can take a bus or v-hire that is bound for Tubigon. All vehicles going to Tubigon will pass along Punta Cruz and at around 7 kilometers from Maribojoc town proper, at the right-hand side, one can drop-off at the junction leading to the watchtower. The tower is around 500 meters from the junction. No rides are available from the junction, so visitors have to walk. Private vehicles can go right up to the tower, though. The entrance fee to the tower is around 50 pesos.
The barangay where the Punta Cruz Watchtower is located is known as Barangay Punta Cruz, which is one of the 22 barangays in Maribojoc town. The name "Punta Cruz" has a historical significance as it originally referred to the wooden cross planted by the indigenous people at the cliff's edge, symbolizing their acceptance of Christianity. Over time, the term "Punta Cruz" has come to represent not just the cross but also the watchtower that now stands in the area.
Maribojoc itself is situated on the southwestern coast of Bohol and is approximately 14.3 kilometers away from Tagbilaran City, the provincial capital. The town is known for its beautiful Maribojoc Bay, surrounded by scenic mountain ranges, which add to its charm as a travel destination.
The town's name, Maribojoc, is believed to have originated from the Maribohoc tree, locally known as "aguho." This tree is known for its leaves that resemble hairs. The community was originally called "Dungguan," reflecting its historical role as a place of anchorage. In 1767, it was declared a parish, and on October 15, 1860, it officially became a regular municipality.
Visitors to Maribojoc and Barangay Punta Cruz will not only have the opportunity to explore the fascinating Punta Cruz Watchtower but also experience the warm hospitality of the local people who take pride in their cultural heritage and natural surroundings.
Top of Punta Cruz
Aside from the Punta Cruz Watchtower, there are several other attractions near Barangay Punta Cruz and Maribojoc town that visitors can explore:
1. Maribojoc Church: Located in the town proper of Maribojoc, the Maribojoc Church, also known as the San Felipe Church, is a beautiful heritage church dating back to the Spanish colonial period. It features intricate stone carvings and a well-preserved bell tower.
2. Punta Cruz Marine Sanctuary: Just a short distance from the Punta Cruz Watchtower, the Punta Cruz Marine Sanctuary offers an opportunity to explore the underwater world of Bohol. Snorkeling and diving enthusiasts can witness the diverse marine life and vibrant coral reefs in this protected area.
3. Maribojoc Bay Mangrove Forest: Situated along the banks of Maribojoc Bay, the mangrove forest provides a serene environment and a chance to learn about the importance of mangroves in coastal ecosystems. Visitors can take a boat ride through the mangroves and appreciate the natural beauty of this unique ecosystem.
4. Cambuhat River and Village Tour: Located in nearby Buenavista town, the Cambuhat River and Village Tour offers visitors a glimpse into the traditional way of life in a rural community. Experience a relaxing boat ride along the river, participate in traditional fishing activities, and learn about the local livelihoods and crafts.
5. Punta Cruz View Deck: For panoramic views of Maribojoc Bay and the surrounding landscape, head to the Punta Cruz View Deck. It offers a breathtaking vantage point to admire the scenic beauty of the area and capture stunning photographs.
These attractions provide visitors with a diverse range of experiences, from cultural and historical exploration to nature appreciation and outdoor activities.