Limahong with his men constructed some boats inside the fort out of the half burnt remnants of his fleet which his men had brought into the fort at night without being detected by the Spaniards. The Chinese had made good use of the blockade also which lasted for three months by repairing the breaches on the walls and the damage of the fire which almost gutted his inner fort.
Under such circumstances, Salcedo’s effort to blockade the Chinese fort seemed to be fruitless. Neither side would take the risk of decisive operations and the war degenerated into skirmishes between small groups of Spaniards and some parties of Chinese going out for provisions or to cut wood.
A Council of War was called to plan other means to expel the Chinese from their fort. It was decided that the Spanish force should retire to an island in the river to make their blockade more effective. The Chinese were exactly opposite the island, that is, they were north of it. But what is more interesting is the fact that the island was within cannon shot of the fort; and one morning the Chinese test-fired the captured “Vigilantibus” cannon on the camp and its projectile shattered the leg of Salcedo’s standard bearer.
As a last effort to cut down Limahong, Salcedo ordered his soldiers to drive stakes into the riverbed where Limahong’s ships were sure to pass. While on both banks of the river, Salcedo also had his men hidden but ready to fight the pirates.
During this same period, Limahong began the construction of thirty vessels within the fort, and as all his soldiers were good workmen, the project was completed on August 4, 1575. At noon, on the same day, he set sail for his country after having been besieged within the fortification for over four months. This event took the Spaniards by surprise. They were astonished to see Limahong sailing out of fort through a channel which was unknown to them. Limahong constructed this channel with the utmost secrecy without either the Spanish land or sea force hearing about it.
Limahong reached the particular spot where the stakes were driven. Amidst blinding fires, Limahong had ropes fastened about the shoulders of his men and at the point of the sword, they were forced to go overboard. Then wrapping arms and legs about the stakes to act as human grappling hooks, the Chinese began their ugly job of pulling the stakes.
The Chinese in addition to being almost pulled limb to limb in an effort to dislodge the stakes, were subjected to the fires of the Spanish arms. With great difficulty, enough stakes were removed and the pirate ships escaped to the China Sea passing through the mouth of the Agno River between Lingayen and Labrador. Limahong slipped through, and made a wild dash for liberty out into the China Sea toward his former lair, reaching the island of Tocaotican where he had sought refuge and later died.
Sources: Philippine Handbook by Carl Parkes
Insight Philippines by Discovery Channel
Philippine Guide by Jill & Rebecca Gale de Villa