Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Roadtrip to Ilocos: Cape Bojeador Lighthouse

Cape Bojeador Lighthouse is located in the town of Burgos, Ilocos Norte. It was established during the Spanish colonial period and first lit on March 30, 1892. It sits high on Vigia de Nagparitan hill overlooking the scenic Cape Bojeador.

Panoramic view of Cape Bojeador Lighthouse along Maharlika Highway 

The scenic Cape Bojeador

Cape Bojeador coastline
Cape Bojeador rugged coast

The lush verdant hills of Nagparitan

Cape Bojeador Lighthouse with my Sweety & Beatriz

The lighthouse was designed by Engineer Magin Pers Y Pers in 1887 and completed in 1890 by the Lighthouse Services under Engineer Guillermo Brockman. The 20 meter (65 feet) high octagonal tower is all masonry, made with bricks stone topped with a small bronze dome-like structure. On a clear day, it is visible from as far as Pasuquin in the south and Bangui on the east. Contrary to popular idea, Cape Bojeador Lighthouse is not the highest-elevated or tallest lighthouse in the Philippines. Corregidor Lighthouse on the island of Corregidor, Cavite stands at 18.3 meters (60 feet) but has a focal height of over 182.88 meters (600 feet) while the more modern Apo Reef Light Station in Mindoro Strait is a 36 meter (118 feet) tall structure made of iron skeletal membrane with a central cylinder, reinforced by a hexagonal frame and topped with the lantern room with two levels of gallery.

Historical marker of Cape Bojeador Lighthouse interpreted in Filipino

Cape Bojeador Lighthouse was originally fitted with a First-order Fresnel lens but the intense earthquake of 1990 that hit most of Luzon damaged the lenses and displaced the mechanism alignment of the original first-order apparatus making it inoperable. Fresnel lenses are ranked by order, a measure of refracting power, with a first order lens being the largest, most powerful and expensive; and a sixth order lens being the smallest. The order is based on the focal length of the lens. A first order lens has the longest focal length, with the sixth being the shortest. Coastal lighthouses generally use first, second, or third order lenses, while harbor lights and beacons use fourth, fifth, or sixth order lenses.

The lighthouse was originally fitted with a First-order Fernel Lens

On early days, light beam was produced by pressurized kerosene lamps similar to "Coleman lamps". Today, the beam comes from a modern electric lamp powered by solar panels. The old pressure vessels and wicks for the light can still be seen in the shed but only serve as museum artifacts.

Cape Bojeador light marks the northwestern Luzon while Cape EngaƱo Lighthouse in Palaui Island, Santa Ana, Cagayan marks the north eastern seaboard.

The light of Cape Bojeador Lighthouse marks
the north western part of Luzon Island

Access to the lighthouse is through a two-lane narrow concrete road that starts from the Maharlika Highway in Burgos, about 35 kilometer north from Laoag City. A signboard on the right side of the highway directs to the winding road which leads to the base of the lighthouse.

Guests climb a flight of concrete stairs to the perimeter wall which offers a good view of Cape Bojeador and South China Sea before entering the courtyard. The service buildings and the cistern are located in the courtyard. The elegant T-shaped stairway leads up to the verandah of the main pavilion.

Flight of concrete stair leading to the courtyard

The Main Pavilion

The T-shaped stairways leading to the verandah of the Main Pavilion

One of the Maintenance Shops  in the courtyard

The cistern access

The main pavilion has been transformed into a small museum. Unfortunately, it was temporarily close for public viewing during our visit. The hallway of the main pavilion takes you to the foot of the covered stairs that lead to the entrance of the tower. A spiral staircase leads guest to the lantern room on top but only a certain number of people are allowed in the tower at a time and access to the gallery depends on the outside wind condition.

The covered stairways leading to the tower

The full masonry finish of the tower

Visiting Cape Bojeador is recommended in the months of November to January, when the cold winter winds from China are felt throughout the normally hot Ilocos Region.

Verandah of the Main Pavilion backdropped by Cape Bojeador

After over 100 years, Cape Bojeador Lighthouse still functions as a welcoming beacon to the international ships that enter the Philippines from the north and guide them safely away from the rocky coast. Cape Bojeador Lighthouse was declared a National Historical Landmark on August 13, 2004 and a National Cultural Treasure on June 20, 2005 by the Philippine Government.

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