Having been to Zamboanga City all my life, I have been to this Shrine many times but I am coming back as a travel blogger. What fascinates me is the way the fort was built and the shrine was made to be one of the signifying and influential landmarks of the City of Zamboanga since it was first built in on June 23, 1635. Fort Pilar as it is most commonly called was built upon the orders of the Spanish Government through Juan Cerezo de Salamanca, its Governor in the Philippine islands, in the request of the Jesuit missionaries and Bishop Fray Pedro of Cebu.
In building the great Fort Pilar, the Spanish Governor of Jambangan, the old name of Zamboanga, imported labourers from Cebu, Cavite, Panay and Bohol. Also, because of these imports, the birth of the most common dialect in the City, Chavacano was born.
It was in 1734 that the relief of Our Lady of the Pillar, Patron Saint of Spain was placed at the eastern gate of the fort. Many Marian apparitions occurred in recorder history on this fort, including the ones involving a soldier who at first beg the Virgin Mary to stop appearing from the eastern gate however, after recognizing what he saw, fell on his knees and pray and the tsunami that occurred in Zamboanga City after an earthquake happened at 1.14pm on September 21, 1897, apparently the Virgin Mary appeared on the Basilan Strait to protect the City from the oncoming waves.
El Fuerza Real de Nuestra Señora Virgen del Pilar de Zaragoza was recognized as a cultural treasure on August 1, 1973. It is dedicated to Our Lady of the Pilar whose guidance and influence on Spain remains uncontested to this date. Similarly, the Fort Pilar has been a sister fort of the one I visited in Ozamis City.
Zamboanga City’s El Fuerza Real de Nuestra Señora Virgen del Pilar de Zaragoza remains to be the bastion of faith, loyalty, truth and unity among locals. It celebrates its annual feast every October 12 which draws in hundreds and thousands of devotees all over the country and the world who placed their faith on the Blessed Virgin of the Pillar.