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Cape Bolinao Lighthouse

Posted by admin on July 27, 2006

101-year-old lighthouse is Bolinao’s landmark

By Yolanda Sotelo-Fuertes
Last updated 00:26am (Mla time) 06/28/2006

Published on Page A19 of the June 28, 2006 issue of the Philippine Daily Inquirer

Editor’s Note: This is the third of a series of reports on lighthouses in Northern Luzon. The Inquirer is featuring these century-old structures to highlight their importance to the country’s northern sea lanes and call attention to their neglect.

FOR 101 years now, the Cape Bolinao lighthouse stands proud atop Punta Piedra Point in Barangay Patar in Bolinao, Pangasinan, guiding ships and vessels cruising the international passage along the South China Sea.

Nestled amid trees, the lighthouse was built in 1905 by Filipino, British and American engineers. It is one of the five major lighthouses in the country and the second tallest, next to the Cape Bojeador lighthouse in Burgos, Ilocos Norte. It has become a prominent landmark that tourists frequent.

The 30.78-meter (101-foot) tower provides a panoramic view of the blue sea and white beaches, offshore reefs and rock formations, as well as rolling verdant hills. Once in a while, a passing vessel dots the sea, an international route of vessels going to Hong Kong, Japan and the United States.

The 140-step winding stairway of the tower leads to the illumination room, 76.2 m above sea level. According to Pedro Honrada, the lighthouse’s head keeper, the lantern is visible 44 kilometers away, guiding seafarers (led toward this area by a lighthouse in Zambales) toward the lighthouse in Poro Point, La Union.

The late Bolinao historian Catalino Catanaoan said the original light machine was manufactured in England, while the lantern, with three wicks and chimneys, was imported from France.

“Filipino machinists were able to copy the original [when they repaired it]. The light machine is rotated by a system of gears like that of a big clock with a pendulum of weights, winded and suspended with steel cable,” he said.

Kerosene fuel

The lighthouse was fueled by kerosene during its first 80 years of operation. When the Pangasinan I Electric Cooperative extended its lines to Patar, the lanterns were powered by electricity.

In 1999, the lighthouse was renovated through a loan package extended by the Japanese government to the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG), which is in charge of the facility. Aside from repairing and repainting the tower, the assistance included setting up solar panels, a new apparatus and two beacon lights. The panels recharge the lights.

The lighthouse has also been getting the attention it deserves from the municipal government.

In June last year, Mayor Alfonso Celeste entered into a memorandum of agreement with the PCG to “adopt” the Cape Bolinao lighthouse to ensure its preservation and maintenance, under the PCG’s “Adopt a Lighthouse Program.”

Under the MOA, the PCG continues to be the sole owner of the lighthouse. It has the right to deny entry into the area during emergency cases and is responsible for the operation, repair and regular maintenance of the beacon light and its supporting mechanisms.

On the other hand, the local government will take charge of rehabilitation and maintenance of the immediate vicinity (except that of the beacon, solar panels and other equipment), provide maintenance personnel, and protect the facilities from vandals.

Cultural heritage

The local government is also tasked with promoting the declaration of the lighthouse as a cultural heritage.

Already, the lighthouse compound has been spruced up. The uphill road leading to the tower has been paved with the help of Pangasinan Rep. Arturo Celeste. A view deck has been put up in the area.

The rehabilitation of the administration building and a public bath was funded by the Department of Transportation and Communications.

Brunner Carranza, municipal planning and development officer, said a worker assigned by the local government keeps the area clean all day.

While the lighthouse has become a tourist attraction by itself, it has failed to do its “job” of guiding sea vessels at night, Honrada said.

In early November 2004, the beacon lights started to dim until it finally shut off on Nov. 8.

“The batteries bogged down,” Honrada said. He has been following up with the PCG navigation command the repair of the batteries that cost about P1 million—to no avail.

“My wish is that before I retire [in October], the lighthouse will be working again,” Honrada said.


84 Responses to “Cape Bolinao Lighthouse”

  1. jdj said

    it is good that there is a concrete road going into the facility. when i went there last, in 04, is still gravel with heavy signs of erosion on both sides of the road.

  2. gmc said

    its good to know that these treasures are now receiving the attention it very well deserve. My father is a lighthouse senior keeper turned supervisor and inspector in his own right for the longest years i cant’t imagine. These massive structures are his living legacy to us his children and will always be close to our hearts. its been our passion to visit lighthouses in our travels. I just visited Cape Bolinao last week, and it was breathtaking. Luckily i was able to visit the country’s tallest lighthouse in Burgos, Ilocos Norte last year.

  3. Mj B. said

    Hi! I was just wondering is can we go up the Lighthouse. We’re going to Bolinao a few days from now and we want to tour the town.

  4. Elisa Catanaoan Tangalin II said

    The lighthouse has also been getting the attention it deserves from the municipal government. —- i love my grandfather 😀

  5. Red said

    HI! Does anyone know who we can get in touch with to get permission to visit the Cape Bolinao Lighthouse? I’d appreciate it..

    • Mike Dockery said

      Hi Red last year we just drove up to it in our rental car, nobocy was around so we stopped and took some pictures and it was a great view. It is on a little dusty bumpy road but worth the trip. Hope you get there.

      • red said

        Hi Mike!
        WE finally got the chance to visit Cape Bolinao last January 30, 2009. It was truly a hidden treasure! We stayed at Treasures of Bolinao, the owner Mr Raymond was very accommodating and friendly. I enjoyed the beach and the Lighthouse–the view from the top of it was magnificent! The drive from Manila to BOlinao though was a little longer than anticipated because of the re-routing, but it was worth it. I hope to visit it next time with my daughter.

  6. Pastor Geronimo N. Cristobal said

    Una kung nasilayan ang Cape Bolinao Lighthouse noon pang 1975. Mula noon ay hindi ko na siya nalimutan. Maraming ulit kung binalak na dalawin siyang muli, ngunit hindi natupad. Ngayon ay may apat na akong anak at mga dalaga’t binata na. Balak naming puntahan siya ng aking panganay na anak. Marami akong ikukuwento sa kanya patungkol dito. Umaraw at umulan, bumagyo man o lumindol, patuloy siyang nagbibigay tanglaw. Ganoon ang buhay na ninanais ng Diyos sa atin tulad ng parola (lighthouse).


    Magandang umaga, kagagaling ko lang po ng Bolinao, sa Patar. nakipaglibing po ako sa isa sa namatay nung kasagsagan ng cyclone emong sa pangasinan. dalawa po ang namatay sa pamilya ng misis dun. pumunta po ako sa Bolinao lighthouse at gusto ko pong ibalita na natangalan po ng bubong yun ibabang portion ng guesthouse o opis sa lighthouse. at yun mga puno sa driveway ay bumuwal na rin po. at yun din pong puno sa likod ng lighthouse ay buwal na rin. malaki po talaga ang pinsala na iniwan ng cyclone Emong sa Pangasinan. at naramdaman ko po napaka tahimik at gumaan ang pakiramdam ko nung nasa lighthouse ako, napakaganda pa rin ng tanawin ng paglubog ng araw pag ikaw nasa lighthouse.sana makarating sa kinauukulan.para maayos muli ang makasaysayan at mahal nating lighthouse. salamat po Bong Manabat Malacanang Photographer.

    • ruby cruz said

      gud pm, mr bong manabat. obviously kuha mo ang mga pics ng lighthouse, png=magazine kc. wla p ding kupas ang husay mo s pg-shoot. sna mkarating s concern ang request mong maayos ang lighthouse. ruby cruz here, gud luck!

  8. mam Ruby, maraming salamat po.

    • ruby cruz said

      a vry gud am 2 u my long missed friend fr AIJ-PJS. sana remember mo p c aq, ruby or rowena!? lota & i accidentally met once s st.peter parish, comwelth ave, nkapagkamustahan ng konti, and i felt vry vry sad to know n wla n c sir hernandez. Owki, hope 2 hear fr u (rowcruz_727@y.c.) God Bless!

  9. Ryan said

    Went there last weekend. The Lighthouse is in state of disrepair and building right next to it is in ruins. There was no one around. The lighthouse apparently run on emergency mode as it still needs proper repair and no help seems to come in site.

    Patar was great but Treasures of Bolinao was a big bullsh*t for destroying perfectly nice rock formations and put an elevated walkway on top of it. stupid idea. the owner should be sued for destroying the environment.

  10. we were at the lighthouse when the storm Ondoy landed. Great site! I would like to propose to rehabilitate it. Do you know who could we approach to help us. We dont mind putting up a foundation to restore and make it a landmark. It need the respect it deserve. Please reply with the right people to contact. I agree, we need to preserve the natural beauty.





  12. Catalino "Jun" P. Catanaoan,Jr said

    “Maabig a awro komoyo nga’min” (Good day to all of you). As a native-born of Bolinao, Im proud of our Cape Bolinao Lighthouse, located in Patar (there is another small lighthouse in Guiguiwanen, barangay Luciente 1). My grandad, Don Jose de Perio was a former lighthouse keeper of this famous landmark. When I was a small kid, my dad, Catalino “Inong” Catanaoan Sr., used to bring me here and both gazed at the top of the tower of this magnificent site. We watched the waves of China sea hits the reefs and the impact produced foamy white. At the opposite side of the tower, we saw the mountains of Zambales and below, the thick verdant green forest. My dad, as a historian and journalist, wrote several articles about the Cape Bolinao Lighthouse, when our town was still unknown to many visitors and tourists regarding the natural beauty sites. The logo of Cape Bolinao High School ( I belong to Class 73?, displayed the picture of this lighthouse. At present, I am living with my family at Oregon. Everytime we visits the coastal cities of Astoria, Newport and Licolns and see their wonderful lighthouses, I remember our Cape Bolinao Lighthouse. The coldness of the wind that came from the ocean reminds me always where I came from. The same feeling when you are at the top of this structure, like a sentinel watching and warning the ships to stay away from the abundant shallow reefs. And as I remember my youth, tossing and throwing small rocks at the ravine near the Patar Lighthouse.

  13. […] course, no Bolinao/Pangasinan trip was ever complete without seeing the famed Bolinao lighthouse.  The place is so serene you could meditate. The tower overlooks the turquoise waters of Patar […]

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  15. anya said

    hello to all one of my wishes before getting marrid is to climb a light house. Since, taga pangasinan ang tatay ko pero hindi sa bolinao, sa east side siya, planning ako when i come back to the Philippines na punta kami ng family ko sa Bolinao and more, makaakyat sa light house na ito, posible po ba? Is there any permit to get before that? Please help. Thank you.

    • Ela said

      sa mga message and comments po na nababasa ko,hindi na daw po allowed umakyat ng lighthouse.. ito po yung isa sa mga message.

      “Unfortunately, climbing the stairs going on top of the lighthouse is no longer open for visitors. This is for the visitor’s safety according to the locals living near the lighthouse.”

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