Wednesday, June 14, 2006
Help a beacon, save a national treasure
By Cristina Arzadon
BURGOS, Ilocos Norte -- The over a century-old Burgos lighthouse (known locally as the Cape Bojeador lighthouse) is not just a beacon to seafarers.
It is also a source of provincial pride after the National Museum declared it a national cultural treasure in December 2005.
Perched on Vigia de Nagpartian hill, the lighthouse, however, cries out for national attention as it continues to battle the elements that have been battering it the last 114 years.
The structure is composed of a 160-m tall light tower, living and office quarters and a courtyard.
Completed on March 30, 1892, the lighthouse was built by Guillermo Brockman from a design by Magin Pers y Pers. It is made of locally fabricated bricks and accented with cast metal grillwork.
Motorists driving north through the province of Ilocos Norte can catch sight of the lighthouse which dominates the Burgos skyline.
Lone lighthouse keeper Vicente Acoba Sr. is kept busy by the steady stream of visitors who climb the steep steps leading to the tri-level complex that supports the octagonal lighthouse tower.
Panorama of the sea
From its top, one can easily take in the sweeping panorama of the sea and the surrounding countryside.
“Sea vessels making the voyage from the Babuyanes Channel toward Hong Kong or Yokohama (Japan) can’t miss the lighthouse,” Acoba told the Inquirer.
Based on an initial study commissioned by the National Museum, the base of the lighthouse needs to be strengthened before the structure could be improved.
The building is in good condition but the living quarters and offices need to be repaired.
At one point, Councilor Joegie Jimenez, chair of the Burgos Tourism Council, said, archeologists from the University of the Philippines who did research on the lighthouse excavated a site where the kiln that was used to fire up the bricks that make up the structure was buried. Old bricks were also found in the hole.
Jimenez said the tourism council plans to put up a landmark at the site.
“We need to make people aware of the need to save the lighthouse. This is the town’s single, most important structure,” he said.
Jimenez said efforts to preserve the lighthouse complex were continuing after initial restoration work for the roofing was completed.
Symbol of Spanish times
Donations, mostly from Burgos residents here and abroad, helped restore the town’s most enduring symbol of the Spanish era.
The funds, however, were not enough to restore the entire structure.
“We need to have more improvements. We only managed to repair the rotting roof and upgrade its wooden support,” Jimenez said.
“We thought that by being declared a national treasure, the national government would pay attention to its preservation by helping produce funds,” Jimenez, a board member at the time, said.
He said the lighthouse was in bad shape after being whipped by Typhoon Feria in 2001.
“The iron sheets were flapping while several glass panels surrounding the lighting device were shattered.”
“The structure itself was left rotting,” Jimenez said.
He said the foundation is preparing a rehabilitation proposal it will submit to the National Commission for Culture and the Arts for funding support.
The proposal would contain a technical study on what kind of preservation the lighthouse should undergo.
The roof improvement was made possible through the “Save the Cape Bojeador Lighthouse” campaign that Jimenez and the Cape Bojeador Development Foundation initiated in 2003. Ilocos Norte Gov. Ferdinand Marcos Jr. is the foundation’s honorary chair.
Burgos Mayor Benjamin Campañano caused the placing of streetlights in the courtyard, which serves as the main entrance to the complex.
Jimenez reproduced some 1,000 postcards, touting the campaign, which were distributed to Burgos natives living in other countries.
The campaign raised some P2.2 million from contributions and from provincial government funds.
It was the second rehabilitation the lighthouse underwent since its construction in 1892. The first improvement was done in 1982.