The historic Fort Santiago was established during the time of the Spanish Conquistador and the first Spanish Governor-General, Miguel Lopez de Legazpi. He also founded the City of Maynilad (famously known today as Manila) and made it the capital of the new colony in 1571.
During the Spanish regime, they built fortification and bulwarks known today as Intramuros—part of which is the Fort Santiago—to prevent foreign aggression and native uprising comparable to the Great Wall of China. The citadel had become the last line of defense of the Spaniards from intruders considering that Intramuros was the seat of the Spanish government. Originally, the wall of Fort Santiago was made up of logs, but later the bastion was fortified with hard stones.
During the Galleon trade (1565-1815), Manila was the trade center between Manila and Acapulco. The City was also occupied in the interim by Great Britain for two years as part of Englishmen’s “Seven Years War” in 1762.
In the later part of the 19th century, Fort Santiago had played an essential role in history. Jose Rizal, the Philippine national hero, was temporarily incarcerated here before he was sentenced to death through firing squad in Bagumbayan (Rizal Park today) on 30 December 1896.
On the eve of his sentence, Rizal wrote his untitled farewell poem famously known today as “Mi Ultimo Adios” or “My last Farewell.” He was executed by a firing squad in Bagumbayan now Luneta.
Mariano Ponce and Mariano Dacanay were both responsible for the naming of the last untitled poem of Jose Rizal. Initially, Ponce published it as “Mi Ultimo Pensamiento” in Hong Kong while Dacanay called it “Ultimo Adios,” and the rest is history.