Also known as the Intramuros of Sta. Rosa, Cuartel de Sto. Domingo (or Fort Sto. Domingo) is a Spanish-era barracks building that was built in 1877 to protect Silang against bandits. With walls made of adobe stones, the entire fort takes up 8.2 hectares of land. The historic cuartel is currently used as the headquarters of the Special Action Force of the Philippine National Police.

DID YOU KNOW?

The two-storey Spanish barracks of the Cuartel Santo Domingo was once used as a depository of Spanish ammunition and provisions. During World War II, the Cuartel also served as a refuge for women to protect them from the abuses of the Japanese Imperial Army.

Cuartel de Santo Domingo: The “Intramuros of Santa Rosa”

Built in 1877, the Cuartel de Santo Domingo (or Fort Sto. Domingo)’s adobe walls and two-storey Spanish barracks building were designed to protect Silang from bandits coming from Cavite. The Cuartel gets its name from St. Dominic, the founder of the Dominican order which owned the haciendas around Santa Rosa, Biñan, and Calamba. During the Philippine Revolution, the Cuartel served as the headquarters of the Spanish troops (led by Gen. Jose Lachambre, a Spanish governor-general) against Gen. Emilio Aguinaldo’s forces. The Cuartel was also the depository of Spanish ammunition and provisions.

In World War II, the Cuartel served as a sanctuary for women from the surrounding areas of Calamba and Cabuyao, protecting them from the abuses of the Japanese Imperial Army. Later during the Japanese occupation, the Cuartel was transformed into a center of commerce.

The Cuartel Now

From 1957 to 1990, the Cuartel was used by the Philippine Army to store ammunition. But since 1992, the Cuartel has been used by the Philippine National Police. Presently, it is the headquarters of the Special Action Force of the PNP.

The Cuartel also served as a detention center for many notorious crime suspects, such as former President Joseph Estrada, Moro National Liberation Front founder Nur Misuari, and alleged pork barrel scam mastermind Janet Lim-Napoles. In 2013, Santa Rosa Mayor Danilo Fernandez proposed the establishment of a separate detention facility for these high-profile detainees outside a historical compound. The mayor also proposed transferring the Cuartel ownership from the PNP to the local government of Santa Rosa, a plan that has drawn support from cultural workers and historians.

On July 21, 2005, the Cuartel was recognized as a National Historical Landmark by the National Historical Commission of the Philippines. On January 14, 2019, the National Museum declared the Cuartel an important cultural property.

How to get to Cuartel de Santo Domingo

From CAVITEx, head north onto Roxas Boulevard. Then, turn right onto the ramp to SLEX. Turn right onto EDSA, then continue for 2.3 kilometers until you take the ramp to South Luzon Expressway. Follow the South Luzon Expressway for 28.4 kilometers, then take Exit 38 toward Santa Rosa. Turn right onto the Santa Rosa-Tagaytay Road. After 7.3 kilometers, you should see Fort Santo Domingo on your right.

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