First of two parts
THE Seven Seas Water Park and Resort in Barra, Opol, Misamis Oriental seeks to do more than merely amuse guests as they experience the facility’s water rides and other attractions.
Prominently featured as center pieces of the park’s pirate themed attractions are replicas of Dutch privateers which waged a series of battles with the Spanish colonizers of the Philippines during the first five decades of the 1600s.
“We secured one of the pirate ship replicas from a water theme park in Indonesia, and the other two we built from scratch using steel and concrete” said Elpidio M. Paras, President and CEO of UC-1 Corporation which owns and operates Seven Seas. “We came up with the idea of using them to educate while they amuse our guests on this particular forgotten chapter in Philippine history since the VOC in particular was based in Batavia (present day Jakarta, Indonesia).”
In the center of the half hectare tsunami pool is a replica of the wreck of the RINJSBURG, which the oral tradition of legends from the 1600s say was a pirate ship skippered by the scion of Olivier Van Noort, the first of the Dutch Circumnavigators to successfully circumnavigate the globe.
Facing the pool is a reconstruction of Fuerte de San Agustin, a cotta or fort cum watchtower supposedly armed with cannon taken from the Dutch East Indiaman AMBOINA while the evens tent entrance facade is a replica of the wreck of BRUINVIS, a Dutch fluyt that extant records say was either scuttled or blown up by the Spanish during this period.
The Spanish-Dutch Wars in the Philippines, 1600-1646
According to historical sources, this period marked the height of the Spanish-Dutch Wars in the Philippines, when Dutch privateers harassed foreign and Spanish trading ships in a bid to wrest the colony from the Spanish crown.
In a series of battles spanning five decades, the Spaniards with the help of native Filipinos successfully turned back the Dutch time after time, from December 14, 1600; again in 1609 at the Battle of Playa Honda by Spanish governor-general Juan de Silva; and again on the Second Battle of Playa Honda on April 1617, when aDutch fleet of 10 galleons under Joris van Spilbergen was defeated by a Spanish armada of seven galleons led by Juan Ronquillo.From 1640 to 1641, a Dutch flotilla of three ships patrolled near Embocadero de San Bernardino to capture galleons coming from Acapulco, Mexico with no success.
However, the wreck of the RIJNSBURG, AMBOINA and BRUINVIS and the Fuerza de San Agustin are historically and culturally most significant because of the Battles of La Naval de Manila,a series of five naval engagements fought in Philippines waters in 1646, when the forces of Spain repelled various attempts by the Dutch to invade Manila, during the Eighty Years’ War.
The outnumbered Spanish forces, which included many native Filipino volunteers, consisted of two (later, three)ancient, rotting Manila galleons converted to men-of-war by stripping guns from the fort of Manila, a galley and four brigantines.
The duo outfought a Dutch fleet of nineteen warships, divided into three separate squadrons. Heavy damage was inflicted upon the Dutch squadrons by the Spanish-Filipino forces, forcing the Dutch to abandon their invasion of the Philippines.
The victories against the Dutch invaders were attributed by the Spanish and Filipino troops to the intercession of the Virgin Mary. On 9 April 1652, the victories in the five sea battles were declared a miracle by the Archdiocese of Manila after a thorough canonical investigation, giving rise to the centuries-old festivities of Our Lady of La Naval de Manila.
The victories of the Dutch also ensured that the Philippines would remain a Catholic and not a Protestant nation.
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