Sunday, September 23, 2012

Philippine Sea Sentinels: Faro De Cabo Bojeador

Faro de Cabo Bojeador was my second lighthouse. My first visit to this Faro unexpectedly didn’t go well. The experience was so distressful that it was even featured in a local television show. But hey, as the saying goes, there is always a second time! I made the better decision this time by bringing along friends with me.


Faro de Cabo Bojeador is the most western of the sentinels on the northern coast of the island of Luzon. It lights the bend separating the West Philippine Sea and the Babuyanes Channel. It likewise assists ships heading south towards the ports of Salomangue in Ilocos Sur and Curmimao in Ilocos Norte. It also assists ships heading towards the Port of Aparri.

Engineer Magin Pers y Pers completed the design on June 1, 1887. Its initial estimate was Php.39,196.89 (Presyong iPhone 5 lang!). It was first lit on March 30, 1892.

The tower is 16.3 meters high. Built of locally made bricks, the octagonal shaped tower has an inner dimension of two meters and an exterior dimension of three and half meters. The top of the tower supports an overhanging balcony, which is surrounded and supported by decorative metal brackets. The attic, where the cupola and lantern rest, is cynical. It is important to note that Faro de Cabo Bojeador still retains its original cupola and lantern.

The dome supports a ball shaped flue, which emits exhausts from the flame of the original gaslight. The lantern is fitted with a first order Fresnel Lens that is partially intact. As a consequence of the great 1990 earthquake of Luzon, parts of the lens collapsed and the alignment of the mechanism was displaced. The Coast Guard retains the original mechanism of the lighthouse. Such mechanism complies with the basic specification for all first order lighthouses.

The pavilion located below contains three apartments, each provided with separate living and sleeping areas, and two offices. One of the offices, the watch room, which is also believed to be the most haunted, is accessed through the gallery; the other through the connecting hallway. The walls of the pavilion are made of bricks while the partitions are a combination of bricks and wood. Interior doors are square headed and crowned by a grilled calado. The doors are made of narra. Unlike other lighthouses designed in the country, the window designed for Faro de Cabo Bojeador did not conform to the usual tripartite division. Only a ventana glazed by glass and protected by wooden jalousies are provided. The pavilion has been transformed as a museum.

Located at the lowest level of the complex is the service building and the courtyard. At the center of the courtyard is the cistern, which is accessible by a small well. Straddling the courtyard to the east and west are the three kitchens and three storage areas. The main gate of the lighthouse is located in the southern and western flank of the courtyard. A flight of stairs in a “T” formation directs the visitors to the pavilion.

How To Get There

Faro de Cabo Bojeador is regarded as the most accessible lighthouse among all in the Philippines because it is situated in a hill which is just a 3-minute drive from the main highway going to Pagudpud. For those backpacking, it’s just a 15-minute trek encircling the hill. Biking enthusiasts will also find this a good choice of visit since the road leading to the lighthouse is well paved.

If you’re commuting, catch a bus heading to Laoag (Partas, Maria De Leon) or straight to Pagudpud (Florida) where you can request the conductor to drop you over Burgos where the lighthouse is located. If you’re dropping in Laoag, better stay in a hotel there so you can visit all the historic and nice places Southern and Eastern Ilocos Norte has to offer. In downtown Laoag, just hop into a tricycle and ask the driver to bring you to the bus terminal plying to Pagudpud. Back in 2007, the fare for the tricycle ride within the city is Php.7 and the fare to Burgos is Php.60.

Having a road trip up north with your best friends all in one car still tops it all.

Best Time to Visit

The keeper suggested that the lighthouse is open to tourists in the morning and in the afternoon but warned us that he wouldn’t advise anyone to visit beyond 6:00PM because “weird things” happen. These “weird things” were well documented in Halloween specials.

Some serious photographers consider doing night shots of Cape Bojeador Lighthouse. However, I am yet to see a night photograph shot within its compound. All I saw were evening shots, zoomed for a star-studded effect, taken by a person positioned at the start of the road connecting the hill to the highway.

Manuel Maximo L. Noche, Lonely Sentinels of the Sea: The Spanish Lighthouses in the Philippines, (UST Publishing House, 2005)

Friday, May 18, 2012

Early Morning Shots of Laoag City's Belfry

Most of the time, tourists staying in Laoag, Ilocos Norte are unaware that the best time to take a walk around the city is on early mornings just a few minutes before sunrise. Plus, make it a routine during the early days of December because the cold breeze is just too much to ignore.

If the sky will permit, you’ll be able to witness an amazing picture of the belfry silhouetting against the sunlight. Save for some electrical lines, you’ll get a decent shot.

Tuesday, March 06, 2012

Philippine Sea Sentinels: Corregidor Lighthouse

As my first sentinel, Corregidor Lighthouse will always be special.

I made the visit during my JPIA days sometime in November 2002, when my friends and I were scouting for a venue for the JPIA Regional Convention that year. We were informed by our friends from PUP-Bataan that there was a casino resort in Corregidor Island (our JPIA Bataan Provincial President actually was vouching for the pretty casino girls). From Subic, Zambales, our group travelled at two in the morning to reach the shores of Mariveles, Bataan just before sunrise. From there, we were greeted by a World War II Veteran who happened to own the fishing boat we rented. His domain, as I recall it, was full of World War II memorabilia. Mariveles was a quiet industrial and fishing town then.

One thing I remember about our boat ride then was that our boatman caught a barracuda with his bare hands during the trip. That was all the excitement we had during the 20-minute transfer. Upon arrival at the island, we bargained with the Tranvia operators for a discounted trip around the island. One of the several stops in the tour is a drop over the lighthouse.

I didn’t bring my camera during our trip back in 2002. However, I came back with a camera and with my beautiful Lola last 2007 thanks to Sun Cruises.


The lighthouse stands at what was known then as Top Site, the highest portion of Corregidor Island. The original was built on January 20, 1935. Equipped with 2nd order lens, it primarily served as a guide to vessels entering and leaving Manila Bay.

The Spanish tower was built using rocks originating from Meycauayan, Bulacan. Unlike most Spanish lighthouses in the Philippines, the Corregidor lighthouse is uniquely built by leaning away from the design prevalent in the former. The base of the lighthouse was composed of quarters before. These quarters are now boutique shops catered to tourists visiting the island. The rooms outside were the kitchen and the storeroom then.

Unknown to many, Corregidor Island served as a prison, hence the Spanish word “corregir” or to correct, during the Spanish and American periods. During the Japanese siege, the original lighthouse, like most structures in the island, was not spared from the bombs. It was eventually rebuilt and the tower was redesigned and emblazoned with a crucifix to commemorate those who sacrificed their lives to defend the Philippines. It was recently upgraded and ironically, it was the Japanese government which funded its rehabilitation.

How To Get There

Just like what we did, you can rent a private boat to Corregidor Island from Mariveles, Bataan. There are also boatmen in Ternate, Cavite who can bring you to the rock. Just a warning though, the sea can be very rough during the afternoon.

If you like it hassle-free, there is always Sun Cruises.

Manuel Maximo L. Noche, Lonely Sentinels of the Sea: The Spanish Lighthouses in the Philippines, (UST Publishing House, 2005)