Tuesday, January 6, 2009

An Endangered Lighthouse in Batangas

Faro de Punta de Malabrigo or Cape Malabrigo in Lobo, Batangas lands in my top three or trinity of epic lighthouses in the Philippines.  The other two, Cape Engano and Cape Bojeador, share a common impression with Cape Malabrigo... they all age beautifully, dramatically, and in an "endangered" way.

While Faro de Punta de Malabrigo is my secret hiding place in the South, it also holds a proof that our "endangered" lighthouses are aging beautifully.  Only few has discovered her even if she's only 2-3 hours drive from Manila via SLEX and Star Toll, then only an hour drive from Batangas City.  

Malabrigo Parola during sunset

Her grounds are amazing.  Since she's on a cliff facing the South islands of Mindoro and Verde Island, shadows from the rising and setting of the sun paint beautiful contrasts both inside and outside of the lighthouse.  A warm cup of Batangas Barako coffee while listening to Moby or Mandalay make patiently waiting for good light very relaxing.

Porch facing the Verde Island Passage

Not like other lighthouses, where noisy tourists are always part of the attraction, enjoying 
different kinds of flowers and trees populate the large lawn and provide all sorts of foregrounds from colorful to neutral hues.  These foregrounds make a good job in producing rare shots of the lighthouse.

Different vegetation found in the lighthouse grounds

Faro de Punta de Malabrigo's grounds does not only make her a one of a kind 18th century lighthouse, it is also an architectural testament of her era's details found in the doors, jalousies, and porch.  I am not an architect, but these details transported me back in time when she was still in her most pristine state.  Even the chosen colors of the bricks and doors, give a unique contrast against the color of her surroundings.

Spanish colonial style architecture

A careful turn of the door knob lets me in the quiet hallways where I can only hear my own breathing.  Slowly, they became as loud as my imagination of other entities looming together with my footsteps. It was clear that amounts of respects while using these hallways and windows are important.  

Blurry effect to simulate an 18th century feel

But when these bricks chip off and iron porch railings begin to rust, you see the real state of Faro de Punta de Malabrigo, or other "endangered" lighthouses in the Philippines.  While the Local Government Unit of Lobo, the Philippine Coast Guard, and the Thompson family maintain and safeguard the lighthouse, it is also our duty as tourists to preserve a century old structure.  

Bricks chipping off need renovating in some quarters of the lighthouse

In 2006, the website Lighthouse News (http://lighthouse-news.com/2009/04/11/lighthouse-vandalized-during-film-shoot/) mentioned unauthorized filming by an independent filmmaker damaged portions of the Faro de Punta de Malabrigo lighthouse.  The website said:  "Film equipment dragged across the 100-year-old hardwood floors have left permanent deep gouges. Whatever was left of doors and windows original to the lighthouse have been torn open. Props had been randomly hammered into the 19th-century walls of limestone or hardwood."

Damaged windows by vandals

Here are my "nail" or bullet points on how to take care of our lighthouses as visitors:

A rusty nail used in a damaged wooden wall

    • Move slow and no big groups inside.  Century old floors, railings, and walls are fragile. 
    • Do not vandalize.  Only animals leave marks to claim territories.  
    • When doors and gates are locked, caretaker is not there, do not enter.
    • Apply "no take zone" rule.  Do not take any souvenirs (only pictures) since it is a National Historic Landmark.
    • Know more about Philippine Coastguard's "Adopt a Lighthouse Program" if your organization likes to take part, like what the Thompson's did in Cape Malabrigo.
    • Travel more and visit towns housing lighthouses to create more community based and sustainable tourism jobs.  

    Old lighthouse fence to protect the lighthouse

    So let our lighthouses age naturally, because from being classified as endangered establishments, they can soon be extinct if we don't do our part.  Our children and future generations may not be able to see them anymore.  

    Aged jalousies that stand the test of time and weather