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Cape Bojeador Lighthouse » Death of Elegance, Creepy Tales and A Spark of Wisdom

We expect bright sunny day on our visit to the majestic Cape Bojeador Lighthouse but no, egotistical weather decided to give us gray clouds and gloomy rain showers. It seemed that the weather was trying to make a point - solitary sentinels of the sea are best visited when the circumstance has the aura of immense loneliness. Well I got the point, and I love it.

I looked up, and saw the outline of the towering Bojeador Lighthouse, hazy due to the drops of rain falling like tears on my old eyeglasses. It was like Severus’ giant wand ready to cast the unforgivable Imperius Curse to the world – hoping to control its chaotic ways. And I was like an elf, climbing the cold stone steps, diminutive, weary and nonchalant.

Towering Cape Bojeador Lighthouse

The lighthouse is the old queen, standing high and proud on top of the Vigia de Nagparitan Hill in Burgos Ilocos Norte. She is keeping vigil since March 30, 1892, so far away from the chaos of civilization yet her job was very important.

Dying elegance

Cape Bojeador Lighthouse view of the balcony from the courtyard

Cape Bojeador Lighthouse, also known as the Burgos Lighthouse must have once had certain elegance and a nice dose of Spanish hubris. The romantic series of stone steps connected to the once ornate iron gate, now rusty and creaking, will lead you directly to the balcony, courtyard and main pavilion.

Stone steps from the main tower going to the living quarters with rusty decorative grills and woodcarvings.
The whole structure is made of bricks, complemented by decorative grill works and woodcarvings. But the violent roaring winds, sea salt and ravages of time stripped it of all its former glory.

View from the romantic Spanish Balconaje
Stairs leading down the courtyard

Also, the place must have been the favorite romantic spot for lovers during the Spanish era - a Filipina in her maria clara giggling with her abaniko while her lover sings old kundiman at the balconaje. Hmmmm, romantic eh.

The living quarters

But no, the living quarters of the lighthouse is now a dungeon for old ghosts. Red bricks are now falling off the walls, capiz windows are now patched by wood planks, ornate iron railings are rusty and deformed.

The tower, which constitutes the highest level situated in the rear a few meters higher than the pavilion is also suffering the demise of Ferdinand Marcos. No restoration efforts was visible and climbing inside the tower going to the overhanging balcony is no longer allowed due to rusty spiral metal stairs.

Entrance going to the elevated main tower

Cape Bojeador Lighthouse, also known as Faro Cabo Cape Bojeador, said to be the most photographed and filmed of all Philippine light stations is slowly losing its elegance. Its light is dying. Somebody from the government should do something.

Creepy tales of the light keeper

Awe-inspiring view of the ocean from the foot of the lighthouse's main tower

I thought lighthouses catch the most awe-inspiring aspects of the ocean alone. There can be immense loneliness if you can’t share the magnificent view with anyone. But I’m wrong. Cape Bojeador Lighthouse was never alone. She has Mang Ruben.

the barefoot light keeper telling his scary tales
While inspecting the dark alley of the lighthouse’s living quarters and taking pictures at the veranda, a stout looking old man with no slippers appeared at the gate. No, he’s not a ghost, he is Mang Ruben, the light keeper. ( I don’t know if I got his name right.)

We are the only group that time and he enthusiastically showed us the place like welcoming us on his own home. He felt sorry because he can’t allow us to go up the tower. He said it’s dangerous, and it’s fine with us.

There are four big rooms in the living quarters, each with huge creepy doors. First he allowed us to inspect the first room which served as the mini museum. The room is musty and dark with old photos inside glass cases.

Cape Bojeador Lighthouse Museum which includes a replica of the lighthouse tower, old photos of: century old foot cabinet; the manual machine; the site of the "Urno"; the prism; the "birdcage"; structure where the prisms are attached; the rock monument believed to cut patiently and diligently by Burgos forefathers; the pulley room; the "weight"; and the FA250 Lamp producing three white flashes every after five seconds. The room also has a few newspaper clippings, souvenir photo of Ferdinand Marcos at the Parola and a top view diorama of the whole Nagparitan hills.    

The next room was really creepy. He said there’s a family living there a long time ago but it was abandoned now. What were left are old wooden bench, a bed and a vintage bicycle - hair-raising yet interesting.

Old window from one of the rooms

The adjacent room, which he did not showed us holds spooky tales. Mang Ruben said that one time, he was trapped in the lighthouse due to a typhoon, and he swore that he heard voices coming from those rooms – a crying child and a lady. Mang Ruben also said he saw a ghost of a really big snake gliding inside those big rooms.
Fantastic view from one of the rooms

I don’t actually believe in ghosts but I still got goose bumps whenever I remember that rainy morning, on those cold, dark dungeon-like rooms listening to Mang Ruben’s creepy tales.

Never miss talking to Mang Ruben when you visited Cape Bojeador Lighthouse. He himself is like a living old relic of the Faro Cabo making the lighthouse a real blast!

Lighthouse reflections

Emo Anjho waiting for her dead lover
"Darkness reigns at the foot of the lighthouse"
-Japanese Proverb-

Sometimes just visiting a place gives me a sudden spark of wisdom – that’s the beauty of travel, makes me lapsed into an introspective state. While touring and camwhoring at the Cape Bojeador Lighthouse, I sensed that it was trying to tell me something. It’s not like those creepy sensations but a peaceful one.

Cape Bojeador Lighthouse is a perfect metaphor for many things in our life. It is a perfect metaphor for my life. I would definitely love to go back or visit other lighthouses. Or perhaps buy an island with an old lighthouse and live out there. Immense loneliness will be there but intense spiritual connections can be made only on those places.

Our favorite Lighthouse boyband shot [courtesy of Bar's smartphone]. From left: Aldan, Bern, Bar and Yodz

“Why you’d rather be on the center of chaos, fast-paced life and temporal ambitions than looking for silence and inner peace. Why you consider sitting and thinking a waste of time?” the lighthouse whispered.

I am a sinner on the run; this is what the lighthouse told me.

Cape Bojeador Lighthouse History and Architecture

by: Written by Edgar Allan M. Sembrano, with notes from Regalado Trota Jose (2018)

Also known as Faro de Cabo Bojeador / Location: Burgos, Ilocos Norte / Designed in 1887 by Magin Pers y Pers; completed in 1890 under Engineer Guillermo Brockman

The demise of the Manila-Acapulco galleon trade in the early 19th century and the resulting increase in international trade prompted Spanish authorities to erect lighthouses to guide ships at various strategic points in the country. It was in the mid-19th century that the first lighthouse in the Philippines was built.

The Cape Bojeador Lighthouse was constructed on top of Vigia de Nagpartian in Burgos, Ilocos Norte to guide maritime traffic through the Cape of the same name on the northwesternmost tip of Luzon. Ships along this route sailed between Manila and ports in northern countries such as China and Japan. The lighthouse was designed by Engineer Magin Pers y Pers in 1887 as a Faro de Primera Orden with an estimated initial cost of 39,196 pesos and 89 cents. It was reconfigured and finished in 1890 by the Servicio de Faros under Engineer Guillermo Brockman and went operational in 1892. The lighthouse is made of bricks baked at kilns located at the foothill.

The lighthouse has three levels. The lowest level has service buildings and a courtyard with a cistern, three kitchens, and three storage areas. The second level, around three meters above the courtyard contains the main pavilion which has capiz shells and louvered window panes and decorative iron grilles. This area has three apartments with living and sleeping areas, two offices, and a veranda. The columns and railings of the veranda are of cast metal. The third level, five meters above the pavilion, supports the octagonal-shaped tower measuring 16.3 meters high.

The lower portion of this tower is truncated, while the remaining part of the shaft is straight. A balcony surrounds the uppermost section, supported by decorative metal brackets. The original cupola and lantern are well preserved, although the lighting system was retrofitted as a result of the strong 1990 earthquake.

Today the lighthouse can be reached through flights of steep stone steps from the widened access road. Considered an exemplary 19th-century lighthouse, it was declared a historical site in 2004 and a National Cultural Treasure by the National Museum on 20 June 2005.


Sources of Facts and Citations:
» Wikipidia Article. "Cape Bojeador Lighthouse" [] Retrieved: 03 May 2011 

» Cape Bojeador Lighhouse Images and Photos (via Mobile Phone Photography - Samsung Galaxy S I9000) : Taken by Yodz Insigne: 26 March 2011

» Philippine National Historical Institute - Cape Bojeador Lighthouse Historical Marker

» Bautista, Angel P. 2013. Protecting Filipino Heritage. Manila: National Museum.

» Javellana, René B. 1994. “Parola.” CCP Encyclopedia of Philippine Art, Volume III Philippine Architecture. Edited by Nicanor G. Tiongson. Manila: Cultural Center of the Philippines.

» Noche, Manuel Maximo Lopez del Castillo. 2005. Lonely Sentinels of the Sea: The Spanish Lighthouses in the Philippines. Manila: University of Santo Tomas Publishing House.

Complete Historical Inscription Reads:

"Idinesenyo ni Inhenyero Magin Pers Y Pers, 1887. Isinaayaos at natapos ng Servicio de Faros sa ilalim ni Inhenyero Guillermo Brockman, 1890. Itinayo bilang Faro de Primera Orden na may tore at mga pabelyon sa burol na Vigia de Nagparitan ng bayan ng Burgos. Nagsilbing gabay-tanglawsa mga sasakyang pandagat mula 1892 hanggang sa kasalukuyan. Natatanging halimbawa ng parola at arkitektura ng ikalabinsiyam na dantaon. Ipinhayag na Pambansang Palatandaang Pangkasaysayan ng Pambansang Suriang Pangkasaysayan, 13 Agosto 2004, at Pambansang Yamang Pangkalinangan ng Pambansang Museo, 20 Hunyo 2005." 


  1. The article was nice!!!...Can I just have some clarifications about Mang Ruben...couz my grandfather was also a lightkeeper of Cape Bojeador for a long time but he died last 2010 and some Of the vendors around the lighthouse told us that he always visit the lighthouse, they also added that he visits the lighthouse last year,beacuse of that we were shocked for our lolo died for a long time ago..and its name was Ruben Labuguen...Can you please ellaborate the physical characteristics of mang Ruben..

  2. Can you please ellaborate the physical characteristics of Mang Ruben..Couz my lolo is also a Former lightkeeper of Cape Bojeador but he died last 2010 but the vendors told our aunties when they visit the lighthouse way back August 2017 and they were shocked for the vendors told them that Mang Ruben Labuguen visits last month, they also added that he visits the lighthouse I am asking the characteristics of the one who entertained you who was named Mang Ruben if he was my grandfather...


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