Our first destination was Kota Park, located north of the island in the town of Madridejos, a small fishing village there. Our resort was located south of the island, so it was quite a drive to get there. It was pleasant, though. You will pass by Bantayan Island's rural landscapes, tree-lined roads and the island's commercial center.
As I found out later on through Cebu's official website, Kota Park, when it was built in the 1790's, served as a Spanish fort (kota, kuta = fort). It was used by the locals, to protect themselves from pirates, and by Spanish militiamen as a camp and a watchtower, given its strategic location at the northernmost tip of the island.
After the Spanish occupation, the fort became a public cemetery, making it the burial ground for many of the locals' departed beloved. It remained a public cemetery until the 1950's. Obviously now, the fort has been rehabilitated into a park. Still, inside the structure, we found relics and artifacts displayed in each of the four corners, including a tall wooden cross marking this fort's historical value to the island.
Past the fort, but still part of the park, is a small narrow beach. We were told by our tour organizer/guide that this is the place where the sun sets on Bantayan Island. We came here just right after lunch and there was still a lot of places to get to. So, obviously, we were not able to stay.
There is concrete footbridge connecting the shore to what seemed to be a "watch-balcony." Standing on this bridge, you will see from afar a cliff face marked with the name Madridejos. If you look below, you will see in the waters different types of jellyfish swimming around. There were black ones, lots of them, and blue ones. They looked bizarre and scary, but definitely a sight to behold.
For other Bantayan-island entries, please see:
Bantayan: The Spanish-Era Town Plaza
Bantayan: Blooms in May
Bantayan: Brilliant Blue Beach
Cebu: From the City to the Island
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