Sunday, March 22, 2015

LakbayLoyd Lighthouse Series 22: EL FARO DE ISLA CAPUL, Capul Island, Northern Samar

Another historical landmark in Northern Samar is the Faro De Isla Capul. It was built on an elevated area in Bgy. San Luis in the island town of Capul overlooking an important body of water, the San Bernardino Strait. The lighthouse not only played a very important role in the galleon trade during the Spanish era but it is so important that it signifies the entire Capul's rich history.

The island was originally named Abak, after the name of the chieftain of a group of people that migrated from the south. These migrants brought with them one of the eight rarest dialects in the country called Abaknon. The language is on the brink of becoming extinct, according to locals. The island's name Capul derived from the word Acapulco (a Mexican town). It was a frequent stop-over for galleons during the Acapulco trade.

The lighthouse was built by the Spaniards in 1896 and was completed during the American Period by the US Army Corps and Engineers. It is 143 feet above sea level with a 40-foot tower that commands a panoramic view of the San Bernardino Strait and extending towards the Pacific Ocean. the pavillion was designed in the Victorian Renaissance revival by Guillermo Brockman (as written in the lighthouse's didactic panel).

The Capul Island Lighthouse is one of the few remaining functional lighthouses in the country. However, just like almost all the heritage lighthouses I have visited, the pavillion is ruined and I wonder if renovating the facilities would matter. I have to say, let them stay in their current state while maintaining what has remained for its historical and architectural importance.

How did we get there?

The plan to traverse Northern Samar from east side to west side has been established in our itinerary. After the Batag Island Lighthouse visit, which took us less than a day to accomplish, we headed back to Lietco for Catarman (aircon van for P70 each). From Catarman, we took another jeepney going to Allen (more than an hour - P60 each). From Allen, we took the odd-looking-big-wheeled-good-for-one-and-a-half-persons pedicab to Port Of Allen (P10 each).  We checked-in at Pahayahayan Lodge with basic amenities for P800 - 12hour stay, perfect but quite costly for waiting or stranded passengers going to Manila en route Matnog, Sorsogon on RORO.

We learned that there is only one trip to Capul and the boat leaves from Port Of Allen at 12 noon daily and leaves Capul going to Allen at 8 am the following day. Now that stirred a problem because we don't have the luxury of time to spend overnight in Capul. We also need to go to work, hehe.

DOT to the rescue! I called up Ms.Jade (from Laoang) again and immediately, she gave the number of Ms. Ivy Nalda (09154806538), the Tourism Officer of Allen. After a series of calls and texts, finally Ms. Ivy was able to arrange a boat to take us to Capul and back on a half-day tour - but costly!

The following morning, we headed towards Dapdap Port from Port of Allen and by 7 am we are sailing aboard Vanessa (boat's name) to Capul Island. We docked at Barangay San Luis after an hour. A habal-habal was waiting to take us to the lighthouse, We also managed to arrange a tour to the town proper to visit the historic Saint Ignacius De Loyola Church. The entire habal-habal ride costs P350.

LakbayLoyd Lighthouse Series 21: EL FARO DE ISLA BATAG, Batag Island, Laoang, Northern Samar

The Faro De Isla Batag or the Batag Lighthouse is a historic lighthouse on Batag Island off the coast of the town of Laoang in the province of Northern Samar. This is the third major lighthouse fully designed and built by the Americans during the early part of the American colonization. The other two being the Faro De Isla Maniguin and Batag Light's exact replica, the Faro De Punta Patar or the Bolinao Lighthouse. It was first lit in 1908.

The light marks the northeastern point of Samar Island and lead vessels to the entrance of San Bernardino Strait marked by the San Bernardino Lighthouse. One of the most traveled waterways in the archipelago now and even during the American occupation, with the Capul Island Lighthouse, these stations are invaluable to vessels coming from the Pacific Ocean and entering the country through the San Bernardino Strait on its way to Manila or any ports of the Philippines.

Batag Lighthouse, together with with the Capul Island Light, was declared as a historic landmarks of the province of Northern Samar in 2008. Unfortunately, the lighthouse is no longer functional and most of the remaining structures are dilapidated. It is one of the lighthouses listed by the Coast Guard for adoption, allowing the use of its facilities and property in exchange of lighthouse's maintenance.

How did we get there?

Getting to Laoang is very easy. It is accessible by air or by land. For this travel, Tess (my now-constant travel buddy) and I took the PAL flight via Catarman. From the airport, we hired a tricycle to the Catarman Bus Terminal (P60 for the entire trike), where vans or jeepneys going to Rawis are waiting (P60 each). After one and a half hour, we reached Lietco, short for Laoang Intergrated Enterprises Terminal Complex, in Barangay Rawis (as the jeepney sign says). We took another tricycle going to the port (P10 each), got to a boat to take us to Laoang proper(P10 each). Then we hired a boat to take us to and from Batag Island (P700 round-trip).

Our drop-off point in Batag Island is the Bgy. Marubay. From there, after a courtesy call from the Barangay Captain, we started our traverse by hiking to the top of the hill where the lighthouse is located. Although a habal-habal can be hired, we preferred to hike for the experience. It was an exciting hike because we got lost for a while, have to walk back and opt a different path until we reach the lighthouse after almost an hour.

One will be delighted and awed with the magnificent view of the Pacific Ocean and other islands composing Laoang as you reach the lighthouse.

Our visit to the Loaong Town was made very easy with the help of Loaong's very hardworking Tourism Officer, Ms. Jade Adora, who rendered a considerable amount of time and effort on a very short notice to accommodate us in Laoang. She took us around the town, gave us a brief tour, and provided us hefty information on town's modest history. The tour ended with a courtesy call from Hon. Madelaine Mendoza-Ong.


Our Batag Island hike was bonebreaking (Yes! one of my grueling hike to experience, so far) but worthy of the agony. A million thanks to our guides and companions, Sir Ronnie Adora, the loving husband of Ms. Jade, and Sir Kiram. How could we ever survive Batag without them?

Visit Laoang, Northern Samar. Call or text Ms. Jade Adora, Laoang's Tourism Officer, at 09466573000 for more information.

Friday, March 6, 2015

LakbayLoyd Lighthouse Series 20: EL FARO DE ISLOTE TANGUINGUI, Tanguingui Islet, Madridejos, Cebu

El Faro De Islote De Tanguingui

If there's a will then there's a way. My fascination to visit all the historic lighthouses in the Philippines has brought me to this flat coral rock island of Tanguingui where the Faro De Islote De Tanguingui stands. The island is under the jurisdiction of the town of Madridejos, Cebu, and is located approximately 30 km from the northernmost tip of Bantayan Island.

El Faro De Islote De Tanguingui was originally designed in 1893 and necessitated to be build on this islet to guide vessels going to ports of Iloilo and Cebu and passing through the Visayan Sea. But the lighthouse was not finished until the end of the Spanish regime. The US Govenrment realized the importance of the lighthouse and therefore ordered to erect a fixed white lantern light 45 feet above high water on December 1903. The lighthouse became operational a year after.

Through the help of both DOT Officers Ms. Joy Tan of Bogo City and Mr. Gary Fernandez, I was able to contact Mr, Melchor Samson, DOT Officer of Madridejos who provided me ahead of time with all I need, including a boat to get to the island immediately upon arrival in Madridejos. A bit bumpy towards the end, we finally reached Tanguingui Islet after almost 2 hours.
With Mr. Mechor Samson

That fine day, I was able to have a short tour of the town. I noticed that, provided with the much needed funding and support, Madridejos holds a promise of providing tourists with a perfect getaway away from the crowded metropolis and nearby more popular beaches. Quite evident, the people have managed to rebuild what was lost and damaged when typhoon Yolanda hit the province of Cebu.


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