Monday, November 10, 2014

LakbayLoyd Lighthouse Series 18: EL FARO DE ISLAS CALABAZAS, Calabaza Island, Ajuy, Iloilo

Brief History

Another historical lighthouse built during the Spanish era is the El Faro De Islas Calabazas located in the northeast part of Panay Island, off the shore of Ajuy, Iloilo Province. Due to growing maritime activity along the Guimaras Straits going to Port of Iloilo, the lighthouse was built though Islas Calabazas was not the first choice as site for the lighthouse. Work began in 1892 and the lighthouse was made operational in 1895. The lighthouse is one of the 27 major lighthouses built to illuminate the Philippine archipelago during the Spanish reign.

Faro De Islas Calabazas was built above a small hill overlooking the Guimaras Strait leading towards the Port of Ajuy with housing pavilion and service buildings for the keeper and his family. The tower was that of the tourelle type. The top of the lighthouse was a dome, similar to that of Cape Bojeador Lighthouse's dome. The original tower has collapsed over the years and replaced by a modern light tower similar to Islas Gigantes and Islote Manigonigo.

The entire structure seemed to be abandoned for long time even before I stepped foot on the island. It was a daunting sight to see the tower was gone, the buildings are abandoned and in ruins, rich fauna has grown uncontrollably everywhere since no one tenders the buildings. According to the locals of Barangay Nasidman in Ajuy, they wanted to maintain the lighthouse and clean its surroundings but it will depend on the budget, which up to now, the local government of Ajuy cannot provide.

How I Got There

From Carles (Faro De Islote Manigonigo), I took the bus for Iloilo City and told the bus conductor to drop me off near Ajuy Municipal Hall.

Before I came to Ajuy, I was in constant communication with Ms. Jocelyn Maalat, Ajuy's Tourism Officer for all the information I need which she hardly manged to provide due to her busy schedule. Instead, Ms. Vema (owner of Chateau De Aow in Carles) referred me to Engr. Roy Latap (09275226031), a resort owner and an advocate of tourism development in Ajuy.

It was a complete delight to know Engr, Roy. I learned how they managed to cope up after Yolanda's devastation and how positive he feels about Ajuy's tourism success.Hours before I came, he arranged my accomodation at the El Jardin Inn located near the town's center and along the national highway. We toured the entire town with his motorbike shortly after my arrival. And most importantly, he managed my tour for Islas Calabazas Lighthouse by renting a boat for a minimal cost.

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