Sunday, March 25, 2012

In Focus: Philippine Lighthouses

With 7,107 islands, the Philippine archipelago is considered the fifth longest coastline in the world.  It is no surprise that we have numerous lighthouses spread across the country to guide international and local ships on their maritime travel. And despite advent of high-tech navigational systems, these lighthouses are still indispensable to mariners for their safe and easy maneuver as they ply their routes within Philippine waters. 

Aside from the important role it plays in the maritime industry, these lighthouses also attract travelers and tourists. Many notable and historical lighthouses made it to the list of must-visit places in the country. 

And I am  one of those fascinated with parolas or lighthouses. It must be because of the nostalgia it brings whenever I see one -- its proud isolation on top of a faraway hill, the view of a beautiful sunset or sunrise or the rusty yet intricately designed stairs that crawl up to its top. I also feel that these parolas are silent witnesses to the rage and calm of the sea that lives below it. For whatever reason, these lighthouses are always a sight to behold. 

"Lighthouses don't go running all over an island looking for boats to save; they just stand there shining." -Anne Lamott

Here are some of the lighthouses I've visited so far. I made a little research about the history and its current status, and learned that except for the one in Mahatao, Batanes and in Palumbanes Island,  Catanduanes, the others are still active and functioning to this day. I just hope that the government will give due attention to the restoration of these  two dysfunctional lighthouses.

  • Capones Lighthouse. This lighthouse in Capones Island, Zambales was first lit in 1890.  As of today, its original lamp and lantern room were already replaced and the buildings around it have been reduced to ruins.  It can be reached via 20-minute boat ride from Pundaquit to Capones Island and about 15 hike along a pathway leading to the tower.

  • Cape Bojeador aka Burgos Ligthouse. Set high on Vigia de Nagparitan Hill in Burgos, Ilocos Norte, this lighthouse was erected in 1890 and was first lit on 1892. After 100 years, it still functions as a welcoming beacon to international ships entering the Philippine archipelago from the north. The light marks the northwestern-most point of Luzon. This octagonal-shaped  stone tower was part of the Spanish government's master plan of illuminating the Philippine archipelago.  Over the years, restorations were made and its original lamp was replaced after it was damaged by the 1990 earthquake.  Cape Bojeador Lighthouse was declared a National Historical Landmark on August 13, 2004 and a National Cultural Treasure on June 20, 2005 by the Philippine Government. 

  • Cape Engano. Situated on top of a hill off the northern coast of Palaui Island, Santa Ana, Cagayan, this lighthouse still functions to this day using solar power. It was first lit on December 30, 1892 and its light marks the approach of ships from the Pacific to the northeastern-most part of Luzon. Although the buildings surrounding it are already in ruins, it remains to be one of the most visited lighthouses in the country because of the scenic view it offers to tourists. 

  • Corregidor Island Lighthouse. The original lighthouse was established in 1853 to guide ships to their entrance to Manila Bay.  Because of the damage it sustained during World War 2, it was rebuilt in 1950 using some of the original stones from the ruins. The lantern was replaced in the 1990s with a solar powered light and the base now houses a souvenir shop for tourists. 

  • Tanay Parola. Built in 1960, this lighthouse is one of the prominent structures in the quaint town of Tanay in Rizal.  It offers a picturesque view of Laguna de Bay especially during sunset and is ideal for early morning and late afternoon stroll. Restaurants and food carts are available near the lighthouse, making it a good bonding place with family and friends.

  • Guisi Lighthouse.  The original tower was built during the Spanish era to guide mariners plying the Iloilo and Guimaras strait. A new tower was erected next to the old and decaying lighthouse. 

  • Sabtang Island Lighthouse. located on top of a rocky hill, this lighthouse is one of the first structures that greeted us as we were approaching the island of Sabtang in Batanes. 

  • Basco Lighthouse. Located in Naidi Hill, Basco, Batanes, this lighthouse is often frequented by tourists because it offers a stunning view of Batanes' landscape and seascape.  It is a 6-storey tower with a viewing deck on the fifth floor.  It's best to go there during sunset!  

  • Modern Mahatao Lighthouse. This octagonal-shaped lighthouse  sits on a hill sorrounded by hedgerows and grazing cows. It is located near the famous Marlboro Country of Batanes.

  • Original Spanish Lighthouse of Mahatao. This old lighthouse is located  near San Carlos Borromeo Church in Mahatao. It is a two vertical structures about 30 meters apart. The lighthouses are constructed cal y canto, they have a rectangular opening on the upper portion of the structures, here the lamps were placed in the evening to guide fishermen during the Spanish colonial period. According to Wikipilipinas, the Mahatao lighthouse functions like an ordinary modern lighthouse, but one thing separates it from the modern ones, it provides a simple but very ingenious means of guiding boats to port during night. From the sea, the boats from the sea follows a course in which the two lighthouses signals though merging their lights as one. This would be a path in the sea that have no coral reefs of rocks. When the light of the two lighthouses go separately, this means that the boat is going the wrong direction and in danger of running aground on the reefs or could possibly smash into huge boulders that litter in the coastline of Batan Island.

  • Palumbanes Island Lighthouse. This circular-shaped lighthouse located atop a hill in Palumbanes Island in Catanduanes is sorrounded by verdant green grass and has a great view of its neighboring islands, Tignob and Calabagyo. 

Sources: Wikipedia and Wikipilipinas. 


  1. Ei! Why did you put my hand there?

  2. wow!bago ito ah! very good! very good! love it! =))

    ok lang yan cha. hindi sana namin malalaman kung hindi mo inamin.hehehe! =))

  3. nice collection.. pinakagusto kong shot ung sa tanay parola.. :P

  4. nice. youve bene to many of the spots with lighthouse. i like the one in mahatao the most. ruined. hoping you can visit the one in basilan too.

  5. I love lighthouses and I'm always looking forward to see any of those pictured here when i get the chance to go back in the Philippines.

  6. I so agree with you. Th govt should exert more effort in preserving history.. =)


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