Monday, December 23, 2013

Climbing Capones Island and Lighthouse - Zambales

I've heard of this magnificent island and lighthouse a lot of times before. But of course, anything of historical value grabs my attention and deep curiosity.

I have learned also from a friend that there are two ways to reach the lighthouse: the eastern side - an hour of trekking and the western side - the shortcut route, but a bit perilous because of slippery rocks, angry waves and was almost impossible to dock.

What do you guess? We chose the dangerous side, while the violent waves pushed our boat farther into the middle of West Philippine Sea.

I tumbled at least seven times just to reach the shore, my ever reliable trekking sandals also failed, to the visual might of my friends capturing my numerous falls. The rocks were damn VERY SLIPPERY!

The sight of the Capones Lighthouse from the shore relieved my stressed feet. I would be seeing and experiencing one of the The 27 Major Lighthouses (No. 7 in the order listed by Faros EspaƱoles de Ultramar) built in the Spanish times. To quote Faros EspaƱoles de Ultramar...

7. Punta Capones. This light station is on Capones Island, off the west coast of Luzon north of Manila. The lighthouse, built off the same plans as Isla de Cabra, is a 56 ft (17 m) square brick tower completed in 1890. The lantern and lens have been replaced with modern equipment. Noche found the tower to be in fairly good condition, but the keeper's house is in bad shape. In March 2004 the Environmental Protection of Asia Foundation signed an agreement to restore the light station as the Capones Island Marine Conservation Research and Development Center.

I saw a discrepancy regarding the exact height of the lighthouse, some website claim it at 65 ft. (19.8 m). If only I knew, I could have brought with us some measuring device.

The view from Capones Island was breathtaking, I took pictures of the island inch by inch. Climbing the lighthouse was also scary, since the steel spiral staircase is rusted and I could say wont stand for a few more decades. The original lamp and lantern were replaced with modern solar-powered lighthouse light as part of the Maritime Safety Improvement of the Philippine Coast Guard. Only the tower though was renovated and the keeper's house and the other buildings in the station were left deteriorating. Surprisingly, the cellphone signals are very strong in the island, because it is very near the international port of Subic.

It was at least a 30 minute boat ride from Pundaquit, Zambales. We paid PHP 4,000.00 for the boat, but that brought as to explore the numerous beautiful coves of Zambales as well, that I will write sometime next year.