Astillero de Bagatao (Shipyard of Bagatao)

Sitio Pansod Brgy. Behia, Magallanes, Sorsogon

Bagatao and the ancient town of Magallanes in the Galleon Times

Bagatao Island is situated at the mouth of Sorsogon Bay, in the Municipality of Magallanes. It has a land area of about 543 hectares, about two kilometers from the Poblacion and just a stone’s throw away from the Magallanes pier. Strategically situated as it is,...

According to the research works of Regerio H. Escobal, “the village of Calaguimi in Bagatao was converted into and founded as a new town (“pueblo”) by the Franciscan missionaries, which began until 1584, and its administration as a “visita” of Iguey (Poblacion of Magallanes) until 1609. The ancient village of Calaguimi, now called Sitio Pansod, was the true site of the Spanish Shipyard in the island of Bagatao, which was established by Governor Juan de Silva in 1610. This claim was further supported by Fr. Francisco A. Mallari, S.J. in his book entitled “Ibalon under Strom and Siege, which said “the village of Calaguimi was believed to be at eastern part of the island of Bagatao at the mouth of Sorsogon Bay. Here shipyard was operated for the construction of galleons.

 

The Royal Astillero of Bagatao also built w arships or guesos navios and some of these are the San Felipe and the Santiago (believed to be the first galleons built in Bagatao) which figured prominently in the battles at Playa Honda in Zambales against the Dutch in 1616-1617. Other galleons built in Bagatao were the San Juan Bautista, the San Francisco Javier, the Sta. Rosa, the Sto. Niño, and Sto. Cristo de Burgos. The shipyard, in addition to such galleons and warships also built other smaller sea vessels which were being bought to Mexico and sold for huge profits.

 

Bagatao also serves as one of the major ports of call for Spanish galleons in their tornabuelta or tornaviaje from Manila to Acapulco and vice versa. They use the astillero for refurbishing of supplies, repairs or as a safe harbor in times of storms or typhoons. Here they waited for fair weather before attempting to cross the treacherous Embocadero de San Bernardino (San Bernardino Strait) in open sea.

 

The Astillero de Bagatao Marker was put up by the National Historical Institute through the efforts of the late historian Rogerio H. Escobal to commemorate the role of the Bagatao Island and the Astillero de Bagatao in the Manila-Acapulco galleon trade as a major shipyard and pport which built and services galleons before they sail open seas or when taking shelter during inclement weather.