Digest>Archives> March 2005

Philippines' Light to Get Makeover


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The Bagacay Point Lighthouse in Barangay ...
Photo by: Frances K. Siao

The Bagacay Point Lighthouse in the Philippines will soon be restored under a new program called “Adopt a Lighthouse” instituted by the by the Philippine Coast Guard.

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When the Philippines became a territory of the ...

Many lighthouses dot the coastline of the Philippines. But, since many are in remote areas, very little of their history has been recorded. The Spanish government built a few during their rule from 1542 to 1898. However, the United States Lighthouse Service built most of the lighthouses in the Philippines, after the United States took possession of the Philippines in 1899 as a result of the Spanish-American War.

The Spanish established the first lighthouse in Bagacay Point in 1857. It was replaced in 1904 by virtue of an executive order issued on July 28, 1903 by William Howard Taft who had first come to the Philippines in 1900 as President of the Philippine Commission. In 1901, U.S. President William McKinley appointed him Governor General of the Philippines. Taft left the Philippines shortly after ordering the construction of Bagacay Point Lighthouse to become Secretary of War under President Theodore Roosevelt. In the 1908 United States election, he became President of the United States, by defeating William Jennings Bryan.

According to George R. Putnam, who was in charge of the U. S. Lighthouse Service for many years and directed the building of most of them in the Philippines, when the Philippines became a United States protectorate, there were 29 lighthouses in serviceable condition. Five of those were large first-order lights on masonry towers, of excellent but expensive construction, which had been built by Spanish engineers using prison labor.

By 1933, the U.S. Lighthouse Service had built 182 new lighthouses, all of which were built to withstand typhoon velocity winds, which often hit the islands. Although the United States built the lighthouses, they were mostly staffed and maintained by the Philippine government.

Although occupied by the Japanese during WW II, the Philippines remained a province of the United States until 1946 when they were granted their independence.

As part of a ten-year development program that declared the lighthouse part of a designated tourist zone, a private group, Coastal Highpoint Ventures Inc., will restore the Baracay Point Lighthouse, which has been neglected for many years.

Coastal Ventures Highpoint president Antonio Chiu, in an interview with the Sun Star newspaper, said they started with the cleanup of the surroundings, and will restore some of the remaining outbuildings as well as install three powerful spotlights to light up the tower. He went on to say, “In the United States and in Europe, their light stations are one of their primary tourist destinations. However, we will not interfere with history. We can only try to restore and preserve it.”

This story appeared in the March 2005 edition of Lighthouse Digest Magazine. The print edition contains more stories than our internet edition, and each story generally contains more photographs - often many more - in the print edition. For subscription information about the print edition, click here.

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