4 new lighthouses, Coast Guard presence elate Batanes folk
BASCO, Batanes, Philippines —A new lighthouse in Ivana town on the western side of Batan, one of the islands that make up the northernmost province of Batanes, is a sign of change for the fishermen who live there.
It is actually one of four new lighthouses built by the Department of Public Works and Highways and maintained by the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) in partnership with the municipalities of Ivana, Mahatao and Sabtang and with the Port of Valanga.
Before the lighthouses were built, fisherfolk in Ivana had to make do with residential or solar lights glimmering from Batan—which they said didn’t do much whenever they were out at sea.
The lighthouses not only provide a better view of the waters at night. They would soon be included in navigational charts and maps of all vessels passing through international waters, according to the PCG.
“[These] would serve as… international reference to foreign seafarers and not only domestic ones. What does this mean? Batanes would be known worldwide,” said PCG commandant Adm. Artemio Abu.
A great help
About 5,400 foreign vessels pass by Batanes every year, based on PCG data, while nearly 3,000 fisherfolk are registered in the province, according to the regional office of the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources.
Ivana Mayor Celso Batallones said the new lighthouse in his town would be a great help since the fishermen have “no gadgets like GPS.”
“You can see the light from afar, while the solar lights could only be distinguished when you’re close to port,” he said.
The lighthouses have a luminous range of 28 kilometers (15 nautical miles) to sea.
BRP Gabriela Silang, one of the PCG’s biggest patrol ships, sailed to Batanes late last month for a two-week mission to deliver and install the “navigational lanterns” for these lighthouses.
These would help ensure the safe passage and entry of vessels and warn seafarers of the shallow rocky coasts of the islands in the province.
Symbol of sovereignty
For Batanes Gov. Marilou Cayco, the lighthouses are not only a guide for fishermen and seafarers but a symbol of sovereignty.
“As a province of a group of islands, this means a lot to the provincial government. This will not just intensify the presence of the Philippine Coast Guard but, more importantly, [this] emphasizes and seals Batanes as an integral part of the Philippines as [its] northern[most] frontier,” she said during the ceremonial lighting of the Ivana lighthouse on Friday.
The lighthouses would serve as “a reminder to foreign vessels “to respect the territory and sovereignty of our nation,” she added.
“Now it really feels like we’re part of the Philippines,” Cayco also said, adding that, without these lights, “we could be invaded by a foreign country [which might] claim that this is theirs.”
“But thankfully, it has never happened. There are poachers but they won’t get close to us because of regular patrols [by the Coast Guard],” she said.
Coast Guard to install 4 navigation lanterns in Batanes
PH Coast Guard asking for another base in Mindoro, facing WPS
PH Coast Guard wraps up defense training with Japan, US
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.