Cotta is one familiar place for the residents of Ozamis City even among the neighboring provinces of Misamis Occidental (where this port city is located) in the northernmost part of Mindanao. Though most people visit this landmark due to altar made in honor of the Birhen sa Cotta ( Our Lady of Cotta) in the western part, this landmark is also culturally significant for the city for centuries.
For one, the fort also known as Fort Santiago has been around for more than 159 years and protected Ozamiz City then the town of Misamis from pirate attacks. During the Second World War, this fort served as barracks for the arm forces.
The one who should be accredited to the construction of Cotta is Fr. Jose Ducos, a Jesuit priest. He spearheaded the construction of this fort for two reasons- to protect the new territory from Muslim pirate attacks and to the Spanish fleet that entered Pangul Bay.
Like most Spanish colonial edifices, the fort is made of coral stones specifically mixed with sandstone and then glued together with lime. Though these coral rocks can be found in the banks of Pangul Bay, some stories ran that coral stones all the way from the Visayan island of Siquijor were transported and used in the construction. Also, there is no doubt that this fort is another result of forced labor where well-able male natives were obliged to render services in many Spanish constructions like forts and churches.
The fort is square in shape with bastions placed in its four corners and typical to many Spanish fortresses, it has a four meter ramp. This ramp is for easy mobility for both soldiers and cannons during an attack. Just a few steps from the ramp is the fort’s arsenal where all the arm supplies were kept.
It may have witness more than a hundred years of history but it suffered during the 1955 earthquake in Ozamiz City. The said earthquake sunk the western part of the fort which is can no longer be reconstructed.
At present, the city government made an impressive effort to reconstruct and promote this historical landmark. Cotta also houses the city’s museum, a cultural stage for some events, souvenir shop and even a small snack café.
From a military structure that helped the economy of Ozamiz as one of the ports of entry in Mindanao, El Fuerte de Nuestre Señora de la Concepcion del Triunfo is a historical treasure that every Ozamiznon should be proud of.
Entrance fee: 10 pesos
How to get there: Cotta is just a minute of walking from the port of Ozamiz City. You can ask around or ride a trisikad and the driver can bring you there.