Friday, August 29, 2014

LakbayLoyd Lighthouse Series 14: EL FARO DE SIBULAC - BABAC DE GIGANTES, Gigantes Island, Carles, Iloilo

Faro de Sibulac-Babac de Gigantes, or commonly known as Isla De Gigantes Lighthouse, is located in Carles, Iloilo. It is primarily built to assist ships entering the Visayan Sea going to Port of Iloilo. It was made operational in August 1895.

The design and specifications of Faro de Sibulac-Babac de Gigantes was similar to those of Faro De Punta Luzaran, Faro De Islas Calabazas, Luz Del Puerto De San Fernando,Luz De Isla Bagatao and FaroDe Islote Siete Pecados, which towers were made of metals and manufactured in France. These towers, however, are called tourelle.

The original tourelle tower of this lighthouse is nowhere in sight but the foundation where it used to stand is still intact. Currently, a new aluminum tower manufactured in Japan was installed next to the original location of the old tower.

Islas De Gigantes, a group of islands located in Carles, Iloilo, is now becoming a major tourist destination in northern Panay but would not beat the popularity of Boracay, of course. The islands are accessible from Port Of Estancia, which is a two hour bus ride from Roxas City in Capiz. As of this writing, only one boat is scheduled daily to transport everyone and everything (personal supplies, construction materials, fresh catch, almost everything) to Islas De Gigantes. Boat leaves Estancia at exactly 2:00pm for Gigantes Norte and arrives at 4:00pm.

Once you reach the island, several tour guides are waiting to take you to the resorts – well, most of them are hired guides of Gigantes Hideaway Resort. I opted to stay here since this is the cheapest and most accessible from the pier, since I only intended to visit the lighthouse and stay for one night. But if one had the luxury of time, I would choose other beach resorts available in the island even if it means it would cost me more.

It was almost 5:00 pm when the boat finally reached Gigantes. Immediately hired Junjun to be my official guide, checked in and went to the lighthouse in no time all before it gets dark. He offered me to go caving and island hopping the next day – but as I have said, I don’t have that luxury of time to spend.

My wish to be alone with the lighthouse never transpired, as everyone in that boat also went to the lighthouse and climbed the top of the tower to witness what they consider a romantic sunset. Romantic indeed, but I wished they didn’t acted as lighthouse photo bombers. I waited for them to step down but to no avail - therefore I was not able to get a perfect shot of the lighthouse.

It was most probable that these tourists went to Gigantes Lighthouse mainly because it is part of the tour package the guides are offering, in addition to caving and island hopping. Other than gazing at the sunset on top of the lighthouse, learning about the significance this magnificent historical structure is most likely not part of their itinerary, 

Overall, I was happy I was able to explore this remote part of the Panay Island, but with a little bit of frustration on how less seriously the people in this island work to preserve the historical value of the lighthouse.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

LakbayLoyd Lighthouse Series 13: EL FARO DE LA ISLA MANIGUIN, Maniguin Island, Culasi, Antique

The Faro De La Isla Maniguin or the Maniguin Island Lighthouse is located in Maniguin Island, also called by locals as Maningning Island, also has an international name Hammerhead Island. 

The internet does not have that much to show or publish about this lighthouse. But according to Wikipedia, it was the Spanish Government’s plan to build this second order lighthouse in Maniguin Island as part of the plan to illuminate the entire archipelago in the latter part of the 19th century. The original design was exactly similar to the Cape Melville Lighthouse but was later changed to a more economical design when the Americans took control of the Philippines after the Spanish-American War. The design of the Maniguin Island Lighthouse is similar to Bolinao Lighthouse in Pangasinan and Batag Lighthouse in Northern Samar – all constructed and lighted during the American occupation in the Philippines. 

Work on the lighthouse was completed in 1906 and the fourth-order light was lit for the first time.

Although Maniguin is one of the barangays of Culasi, Antique, it is 42.6 km off the coast off the main island of Panay from Culasi Proper, Antique and will take 4 to 5 hours to reach the island on a pumpboat. Having able to contact a number of people from DOT in Culasi (c/o Mr. John Sumanting),I took the advice of Maniguin Island's Barangay Captain Nica Torres, to take the shorter route instead, via Libertad, Antique. Her son, Wilbert Torres, a barangay kagawad from Tinigbas, Libertad, helped me get to the island using his pumpboat. It only took us a little less than two hours to reach Maniguin Island, 

Maniguin Island was badly hit by typhoon Yolanda but the people remain to be optimists and bit by bit rebuilt their properties. The remnants of the previous disaster is still evident, reason they continue to seek help from private and local agencies for livelihood support.

Its distance from the the main island of Panay plus the limited means of transportation are the big challenges facing this part of the Philippines. Promoting this island maybe difficult albeit conquering Maniguid will give one an awesome feeling this off the beaten piece of wonder, where nature is unspoiled, and the beaches - amazingly untouched, 


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