RP'S OLDEST LIGHTHOUSE RESTORED

Manila, April 21, 2003 -- The 126th Squadron of the Philippine Coast Guard 
Auxiliary (PCGA) has completed the repair painting, and the landscaping of 
a mini-park at the Spanish colonial lighthouse alongthe mouth of the Pasig 
River called Faro y Luces del Rio Pasig.

It is the oldest light station in the country built in 1642 during the 
administration of governor-general Sebastian Hurtado de Corcuera, centuries 
ahead of its successors.

The Philippine Coast Guard renovated the tower in 1977. In 1992 again, 
through the auspices of the PCG, the present lighthouse was superimposed 
upon approximately one-third of the 1846 tower, which forms the base of the 
present structure.

"The farola project is an example in which the PCG and the PCGA continue to 
cooperate in preserving the heritage and protecting the environment," 
Captain Robert Lane of the PCG's 116th Squadron, Environmental Protection 
Unit said.

PCGA is a volunteer force assisting the Coast Guard with various programs 
in environmental conservation and protection, antipollution campaigns, 
search and rescue operations, medical missions, oil clean-up, and ship 
inspection.

The massive construction of lighthouses in the country took place at the 
end of the 19th century, an ambitious lighting of the Philippine seas 
undertaken by the Inteligencia del Cuerpo de Ingenieros de Caminos, Canales 
y Puertos (Corps of Engineers for Roads, Canals, and Ports).

Erected to protect the country's flourishing maritime industry in the time 
of the Galleon Trade, the Pasig farola is located atop a dike with a fixed 
beacon which can be seen from as far as Corregidor, 27 miles away. When the 
Manila-Acapulco galleon trade came to an end, the country joined an 
extensive network of international trade and commerce which required more 
shipping routes to and from the islands.

In "Spanish Colonial Lighthouses in the Philippines," architect Manuel 
Noche of the University of Santo Tomas states that the Pasig River farola 
is the first in the Philippines. It guided navigators into the riverine 
port of Manila, the Spanish colony's capital in the East.

Composed of tower, pavilion, and service buildings, the farola was designed 
in the prevailing renaissance revival style as well as the Victorian style 
of architecture. The original tower and lighthouse keeper's dwelling 
located a few meters away have been renovated several times. The first was 
in 1846, when its circular tapered 15-meter tall tower made of masonry from 
the quarries of Meycauyan, Bulacan, was completed. Its Argand lens was 
replaced with a sixth order Fresnel catadioptric lens when the cupola was 
repaired in 1868.

At the end of the 19th century, the farola's lighting characteristics were 
altered from a fixed red light to a flashing white light to assist 
navigators in locating the mouth of the river, and to differentiate it from 
the lights flooding the metropolis.

Philippine light stations are located on secluded islets, barren rock 
outcrops, points, cliffs, capes, and bluffs, a commitment of the Spanish 
colonial government to modernize the Philippines and make it competitive at 
the dawn of the 19th century.

The study of Noche, which was funded by Spain's Ministry of Education and 
Culture and UST's Center for Intercultural Studies, surveyed 24 Castilian 
colonial lighthouses in the country. A comprehensive assessment of the 
structures was made, with recommendations given to the PCG. But funds are 
needed to restore them, and the damage to the light towers is daunting.

Conservations are looking at the possibility of setting up bed-and-board 
arrangements in key lighthouses. This would take care of their sustained 
upkeep while providing hostel quarters in romantic surroundings. (TODAY)

Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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