No. of :

No. of Shares:

Currently viewed by: Marcus Rosit

Punta Diamante: Sorsogon’s Spanish colonial fort now restored

Historic sites connect us to the past.

They are physical reminders of what came before us and help to create a sense of culture in a community.

In the southernmost part of Luzon lies an almost forgotten cultural and historic gem, the Punta Diamante located at Barangay Dapdap in Bulusan town, Sorsogon.

Bulusan, where the Punta Diamante fortress is located, was one of the original Bicol doctrinas (cultures) founded in 1583. It was then part of the province of Albay, up until October 1894, when the separate province of Sorsogon was created.

The historic Punta Diamante narrates on social media that Punta Diamante, literally means “Diamond Tip” as its watchtower base is shaped as a diamond and tapers upwards in alternating tiers, existed in 1799 and its baluartes (bulwarks) and estacadas (stockades) are believed to have been built at around the same period as the town site transfer, from Poblacion to Inarado (now San Rafael), in 1760. The transfer was triggered by the need to trade with neighboring settlements, with the primary axis of sea transportation.

The kampanaryo (belfry) is the most prominent structures of the muralla (high wall) enclosing the vast stretch of the churchyard and rectory of the St. James the Greater Parish.

The restored four-tier belfry that served as warning signal of the local community during the attacks of the Moro pirates.
The diamond-shape tip part of Punta Diamante where a white cross and sculpture of St. James the Greater is located.

The triangular baluarte faces the sea or the embarcadero, also known in English as the San Bernardino Strait.

The town of Bulusan built the most number of baluartes de piedra (stone watchtowers) erected in Macabare, Tawog and Layog (now a part of Barcelona town).

Historical significance

Punta Diamante has around five watchtowers with high and thick walls, making it ideal for refuge.

The Punta Diamante was used by the local community as a defense and warning system against the Moro pirates. These pirates used to attack Bulusan, especially the coastal areas, robbing the natives of their gold, silvers and whatever else came to be lying around, and burning the houses afterwards.

It must have been from what used to be the unobstructed view across this baluarte and the kampanaryo that the Bulusanon sentinels of the old first caught sight of approaching Moro vessels or of warning signals from distant baluartes.

According to Manuel Bañares, Bulusan municipal councilor and chair of St. James the Greater Parish Pastoral Council Committee on Temporalities, old folks recounted that once the community heard the bell rang, they hurriedly convened themselves bringing along with them their important treasures inside Punta Diamante to seek protection against the pirates’ attacks.

“Punta Diamante must have been the first point of combat between the raiders and the local defenders,” he added.

THEN. The unrestored SpanishSpanish-Era Bell Tower, called by Bulusan forefathers as “Los Sietes de Piedra”.
NOW. The newly restored Spanish-Era Bell Tower.

As Bañares emphasized the historical significance of Punta Diamante, he appealed to the present and future generations of Bulusan to look back and understand their roots as they have an important role as vanguards of heritage preservation.

“Bulusan local government and the Parish Pastoral Council of St. James the Greater along with other stakeholders now work hand in hand to educate the local community on the role of Punta Diamante in the history of Bulusan and how it significantly contributed to shaping the identity of Buluseños,” said Bañares.

NHCP‘s restoration of Punta Diamante

The restoration of Punta Diamante and Bulusan Belfry in the municipality of Bulusan, was the town’s biggest act to preserve the testament to its glorious past.

The concept to restore was through the effort of governor, now Senator Francis “Chiz” Escudero in collaboration with the National Historical Commission of the Philippines (NHCP) among other stakeholders, taking into account the historical, cultural, religious and tourism significance of the site.

On July 26, 2023, NHCP Chair Emmanuel Franco Calairo turned over the newly restored Punta Diamante, which was gratefully accepted by Sorsogon Bishop Most Reverend Jose Allan V. Dialogo, D.D. of the Diocese of Sorsogon.

Serving as witnesses during the signing of the Certificate of Transfer and Acceptance of the Restoration Project for Punta Diamante were Bulusan Mayor Michael G. Guysayko, NHCP Finance and Administration Division Chief Rosario V. Sapitan, and Rev. Joel A. Bilan, Jr., parish priest of St. James the Greater Parish.

The turn-over ceremony of the newly restored Punta Diamante by the National Historical Commission of the Philippines (NHCP) to the Diocese of Sorsogon, held on July 26, 2023. (Photo: NHCP)

The restoration has three phases: Phase I – full restoration of the Spanish-Era Bell Tower and the front fortress of Punta Diamante; Phase II – church repair and middle part of the fortress; and Phase III – the diamond-shape tip part of Punta Diamante where a white cross and sculpture of St. James the Greater is located.

The Phase I restoration has a total budget of P9,032,421.00 funded by the NHCP.

“Members of the Bulusan Historical and Cultural Society, Inc. (BHCSI) and Bulusan’s people in general, are grateful to the NHCP for giving us the opportunity in this monumental step towards preserving what we consider to be our town’s best and biggest distinct historical and cultural heritage,” said Bañares who is also an officer of the BHCSI.

Bulusan Mayor Michael Guysayko also thanked the NHCP and the people who relentlessly took effort to realize the restoration of the site and committed to give full logistical support to utilities and manpower for the maintenance of Punta Diamante.

Promising Tourism Destination in Sorsogon

Punta Diamante’s fort complex is the last remaining structure of its kind in Sorsogon.

With less than a month following its restoration, Punta Diamante is now one of the major tourist attractions in Sorsogon because of its historical value and its significance as a cultural heritage site.

Sorsogon Museum curator Jerome D. Dio said Punta Diamante is classified as Baluarte de Piedra or a wall made of stone. The wall itself is a significant structure and is starting to be known now for its tourism potential. After the restoration, tourists can now walk on top of the wall like that of Intramuros in Manila. “We want Punta Diamante to be known as the ‘Intramuros Wall of Sorsogon’,” Dio emphasized.

INTRAMUROS OF SORSOGON. By the restoration of the fortress, tourists can now walk on top of the wall like that of Intramuros in Manila.

The Spanish-Era Bell Tower, called by Bulusan forefathers as “Los Sietes de Piedra'' because it was a chain of stone walls designed as a warning system against approaching Moro pirates, is the biggest of the four watchtowers made of stone that connect Punta Diamante surrounding the church. It is open to visitors for free and visitors can climb up to the fourth tier of the belfry.

The watchtower inside the fortress now serves as the church’s bell tower, with the four old bells still intact, two of them are still operational.

Dio also shared the plan of transforming the church of St. James the Greater into a pilgrimage site given that their patron saint, James the Greater, was believed to be very miraculous saving the church’s treasures against many attempts to rob the church in the past by hideous characters.

Two of the four old bells at the Kampanaryo
One of the two old smaller bells that are still operational up to now.

Aside from preserving its architectural value, the restoration of Punta Diamante will also embody the values of Bulusanons and Sorsoganons, their cultural identity and historic continuity.

Their connection with the past will give purpose and meaning to their identity and way of life, then and now. (PIA 5/Sorsogon

The churchyard of St. James the Greater Parish settled inside the Punta Diamante.
MGA MOOG NG BULUSAN. The historical marker of the Punta Diamante.

About the Author

Benilda Recebido

Information Center Manager

Region 5

Benilda "Bennie" Recebido is the Information Center Manager of PIA Sorsogon.

Feedback / Comment

Get in touch