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Cuyo History, Philippines

Cuyo Islands is a group of 45 islands and islets that are mostly inhabited and unexploited. This island conglomeration is located in between Panay and Northern Palawan just below Mindoro. This island group connects Palawan and other neighboring Visayan provinces. These islands of Cuyo are grouped into two subgroups namely the Quiniluban group and the Cuyo Islands. The mainland of the Cuyo group is the fourth-class municipality of Cuyo that has 17 barangays each offering a different sight to behold.

The municipality of Cuyo has a rich history dating back to the Spanish era when the spread of Christianity had reached the entire province of Palawan and when the Moro raids and attacks here and there were prevalent particularly from 15th to 18th century.

The historical Fort of Cuyo is the only remaining witness of the town’s rich history for the municipality has a limited account describing their walks in the past. The fort was built in 1680 as a defense from the Moro raids with walls that sheltered the convent, the church, the Perpetual Adoration chapel and a portion of the Cuyo mainland. The church bell tower was added atop one of the bastions of the fort in 1827. The Cuyo Fort is the oldest and the most unique fort erected in the Philippines. The main entrance to the fort is through the church’s main door. Another entrance is a blind door leading to a confined room where invaders were usually caught off guard.

Cuyo was a former center of Christianity in the province and the main target of the Moro attacks as evident in the damages experienced by the physical structures of the fort. Cuyo shares a lot with the history of Palawan being the second capital of the province from the years 1873 to 1903.

The civil authorities of Palawan took shelter at the Fort of Cuyo during the times of intensive Moro attacks. The forts in Cuyo and in other island municipalities of Palawan are historic evidences that showcase the rich and artistic naval protection system in the Spanish era. These forts were mainly built to protect the significant structures of Christianity.

The natives of Cuyo were mostly Christianized during the rise of the missionaries who successfully evangelized the entire province including the remote islands of Palawan. The devotion of the Cuyunon (the term relating to the people of Cuyo) is usually expressed in their religious activities and festivities honoring their patron saint and many others.

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