Tallest lighthouse stands in Ilocos

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By Edzelle Peña

BURGOS, ILOCOS NORTE — Here’s another reason why our trip to Ilocos was worth the 12-hour bus ride — Faro Cabo Cape Bojeador.

Set majestically on a hill, standing at 160 meters, Faro Cabo Cape Bojeador, also called Burgos Lighthouse, is considered the highest lighthouse in the Philippines above sea level.

This century-old architecture, reflective of Spanish influences, is built of red bricks and is characterized by its octagon-shaped tower. Since its completion in March 30, 1892, the parola has guided thousands of ships passing by the northern part of South China Sea.

There were a number of tourists during our visit, most of them, Koreans. A few tricycles were parked in the area and used by tourists as transport for touring the towns of Ilocos Norte. If I remember correctly, you would have to pay P600 to hire one.

We climbed a few steps to the main gate. The place seemed to be maintained well as the surroundings were clean. The whole structure was old — weather-beaten paint, rusty iron railings on the gate, broken windows and doors, some deteriorating ceilings.

Before climbing up, we stopped at the foot of the tower to take some pictures and also, linger at the astonishing sight below. From there, one would get a clear view of the ocean. It was quite a sight already but we were sure the view from the top would be much better.

A warning sign at the door saying that we were entering a high voltage area scared us a bit. But a few people were already inside so we thought, it wasn’t that dangerous after all. We climbed the spiral stairs to the top, I counted 164 steps.

It was pretty challenging as it was narrow and a bit dark inside. If you’re claustrophobic, inside the tower is not a very friendly place. I would also recommend that you bring a flashlight or perhaps, use your cellphones to illuminate the path. There were a few glass windows along the way but be careful not to lean on them as some had cracks already.

Finally, we were able to reach the top — the lens room. The view was just phenomenal. The blue waters of the South China Sea and the green landscapes, it was a heavenly feeling being up there. The room was surrounded by tall, glass windows. Some were broken already so one would feel the heavy blow of winds.

Many who got to see the place have a lot of interesting stories to tell. Some were blown away as I am, like the author of a post in VisitPinas.com who described the lighthouse as the most amazing lighthouse in the country having the most impressive view one could ever see. Author of the blog, Traveler on Foot was equally astonished and described it as an architectural and engineering milestone.

A lot of them also speak about the hospitality of the lighthouse’s caretakers like Valerie Caulin who met one of them and said that he was very accommodating, trying his best to talk to them in Tagalog. Marketman, who met another caretaker named Mang Celso, admired the man’s commitment to his job, looking after the lighthouse alone with no television, electricity, or even fresh water connection. Caretakers change every after three months.

Roy Medina got to have an interesting chat with Mang Vicente, also a caretaker, shared a spooky story about the place. According to him, “ladies in white” walk through walls then suddenly disappear. He said they could be seen between three and four o’clock in the afternoon.

It’s a shame that we didn’t get to talk to the caretaker when we were there but it is good to know that they are always open to answer the tourists’ almost repetitive queries. I’ll make sure to chat with them when I come back.

Here’s how to get there from Waypoints.ph:

From Laoag/Baguio/Vigan or La union : Follow the northwestern coastal national highway that is commonly used going to Ilocos provinces until you’ve reached some dramatic and exhilirating view of the sea and upon reaching the town of Burgos in Ilocos Norte. There is a sign board at the right side of the highway indicating the entrance to the winding road leading to the base of cape Bojeador Lighthouse.

See more pictures here.

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Thanks for mentioning me here in your blog entry. I love your photos! Keep up the good work…