Monday, July 28, 2014

LakbayLoyd Lighthouse Series 11: EL FARO DE PUNTA LUZARAN (GUISI POINT LIGHT HOUSE), Nueva Valencia, Guimaras

It was like hitting two birds in one stone when I visited Guimaras Island recently. I was able to visit two lighthouses in just a single day - El Faro De Islote Siete Pecados in the morning and El Faro De Punta Luzaran in the afternoon. Zaldy, my tour guide from DOT Guimaras (093533422740) was very kind to offer his motorcycle as our official tour vehicle for my entire trip, giving me the opportunity to visit the entire province's significant landmarks traversing from the farthest north town of Buenavista to the southernmost tip of Guimaras, the Guisi Point in Bgy Dolores, town of NuevaValencia.

Most commonly called Guisi Point Light House, El Faro De Punta Luzaran was considered the second oldest lighthouse in the Philippines. People of Guimaras take pride of this historical structure making sure almost all visitors in the island don't miss this.

For a very long time, the lighthouse served as a  navigational aid for fishermen and sailors cruising the Panay Gulf. It was built under the Spanish government and was completed in 1896. The lighthouse marked the south entrance to Iloilo. Currently, the entire lighthouse was in ruins and no longer operational. Another tower, a white generic modern light was built close to the original tower.











I skipped the idea of climbing the top of the lighthouse for safety reasons. Nevertheless, the view of the surrounding bay from the top of Guisi Point is so charming and relaxing. Downhill was the magnificent view of different rock formations and of course, the famous Guisi beachfront.






LakbayLoyd Lighthouse Series 10: EL FARO DE ISLOTE SIETE PECADOS, Siete Pecados Islands, Dumangas, Iloilo


Not much have been written about this historical landmark and location. El Faro De Islote Siete Pecados was built in 1897 and stood on top of the biggest of the seven islands of Siete Pecados, a small group of islands scattered closely to each other guarding the entrance of Iloilo Strait, part of Dumangas, the gateway to then bustling trade in the Port of Iloilo City.

The lighthouse's current state is depressing - ceiling torn down to wreckage, walls full of spray paints and other forms of vandalism - such an unfortunate conclusion to a significant landmark of the province. The local government was not able to restore the old lighthouse, obviously, but managed to install a modern generic white light tower next to the old structure to serve as guide to passing vessels.









Understanding the lighthouse's significance, I managed my visit to Siete Pecados Light Station through the help of several DOT staff from Buenavista, Guimaras. Ms.Tina Fernandez (cel. 09177915477), Tourism Officer of Buenavista, her staff, Katkat and Zaldy (cel. 09353342274), were my event coordinators for this trip. And to my and their amazement, I was one of the very few tourists with this kind of unusual itinerary.


The Siete Pecados islands are most accessible from Buenavista, Guimaras, which is 15-minutes away by pumpboat from Parola Port in Iloilo City. A short habal-habal ride in and around Buenavista town was added to my island tour by Zaldy before taking a small fishing boat for the islands. These boats can be found along the beach next to Roca Encatada - the heritage and summer house of the Lopez clan.

Commonly, the islands serve only as shelter and picnic ground for fishermen. Sadly, bits and pieces of litter surround the island.









Monday, July 14, 2014

LakbayLoyd Lighthouse Series 09: EL FARO DE PUNTA CAPONES, Capones Island, San Antonio, Zambales


Located on top of the hill of Capones Island is the El Faro De Punta Capones, or commonly known as the Capones Lighthouse. The Capones Island tour, along with the Anawangin and Nagsasa coves and Camara Island tour in Pundaquit, San Antonio, Zambales, is included in the island-hopping package.


 
The lighthouse is one of the 27 major lighthouses built during the Spanish colonial times and it was first lighted in August 1, 1890. This is the first of its kind that I came upon. I’ve seen round towers (Bolinao, Batanes, Pasig) and octagonal towers (Bojeador, Engano, Corregidor) but this one is a square brick tower, the design was built similar to Isla de Cabra in Mindoro, which is one of my immediate future destinations.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Once you are in Capones Island, reaching the lighthouse can be short or long depending on how adventurous you are. One is the long cut, a hike up the hill which will take 40min to 1hr from the east side. The other is the shorter but more exciting trail from the west side which will take only 10-15 climb up the hill. The stones are slippery and the waves are somehow violent, and it was not a walk in the park – the steps are steep, at some point we have to rappel or hold the next available tree’s roots or branches. But it’s worth the sweat and struggle.






 
The view from the top of the hill is magnificently overlooking the vast South China Sea. We climb the shaky spiral rusty staircase to the top of the light tower and the view is even more breathtaking. According to our boatman, the lamps no longer work though the original lamps were replaced with modern solar-powered lights and the tower newly renovated. Nevertheless, this historic landmark is still worth visiting.





Special thanks to my (now) constant companion, Tess Nanez, who is religiously on the lookout of my daily activity and calendar entries. She swore I won't be able to go on with my traveltrail without her.



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