There’s a lot to be envied about lighthouses. They exude a kind of charm and enigma just by standing still. They command attention without even trying. And they always have the best view.
There’s even more to be envied about those that stand proud in the hills of Batanes. They are relatively new and well-maintained. They are never lonely, sought by rabid tourists, and photographed by those who wish to immortalize their moments with them. And as sentinels of the northernmost province, they face no existential dilemmas for no one can deny their importance.
Today, Batanes has three lighthouses and they are similar in many ways. All three are part of a project spearheaded by Rep. Abad in the early 2000’s. These modern structures were erected not only to guide seafarers across the perilous waters of the Pacific Ocean and West Philippine Sea (South China Sea), but also as tourist attractions. All three are open to visitors, providing the most spectacular vistas.
They are all capped with a red-painted concrete lantern room with narrow storm panes. They also use rubble masonry in the construction of the main tower.
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First lit in 2003, it was the first to be completed of the three. Basco Lighthouse was built in Naidi Hills, at the site of the old telegraph facility used during the American era and was destroyed by the Japanese during World War II.
The main column is round, white painted, and crowned with a red lantern room. The bottom portion and the attached dwelling (for the caretaker) are limestone masonry. The 20-meter tower has six stories, with the fifth being the gallery, allowing unobstructed views of the West Philippine Sea to the west, Mt. Iraya to the north, and the Basco Town Proper to the south. A nearby building houses the Bunker Cafe.
Tayid Lighthouse (Mahatao)
Mahatao’s old, non-functional lighthouse was constructed in 1700s near the San Carlos Borromeo Church, but the structure is often overlooked in favor of the town’s modern newcomer: Tayid Lighthouse.
Like its counterpart in Basco, Tayid Lighthouse is crested on a hill on Batan Island, topped with a red lantern room and roof, and bears a rubble masonry base and dwelling. The similarities stop there. Tayid faces the more mischievous Pacific Ocean, not the West Philippine Sea. Its main tower is hexagonal, not round. And it is much less accessible. It can be seen from Marlboro Country (Racuh a Payaman) and Diura Fishing Village.
Perched on a cliff just beside the port, Sabtang Lighthouse is the first man-made structure to greet you as you approach Sabtang island. Unlike the lighthouses of Batan Island, the tower boasts a round tower with a rubble masonry finish all the way to the gallery deck, which gives it a dominant organic appeal, and a red lantern room. It is best viewed from the port where crashing waves take the foreground.
How to get to Batanes: Philippine Airlines flies to Basco, Batanes! You may check their rates and book your flight at www.philippineairlines.com.