LUNA, La Union – A 400-year old Spanish watchtower, one of those built along the La Union shores during the Spanish times and located in Barangay Victoria here, has been fully restored with an amount of at least P6-million.
Luna Mayor Victor Marvin Marron said that the watchtower, called “baluarte”, half of which had collapsed after it was toppled by big waves and strong winds brought by typhoons, was reconstructed with concrete materials and bricks, the same construction masonry used by the Spaniards.
“Baluarte” which means bulwark or stronghold, was approved by the National Historical Institute and designated it as one of the country’s national treasures. The watchtower was reinforced with round dike which serves as view deck along the sea.
Marron said the edifice, which was used by the Spanish soldiers as look-out for marauding Moro pirates riding in fast-moving vintas, was first split into two due to typhoon “Lando” that battered the country in 2015. The other half was slowly destroyed by strong waves during bad weather.
“It was a difficult decision to re-build it after it was destroyed by the typhoon because if we would not do so, some of its debris might be carried away by the sea and we would never recover the scattered pieces,” Marron said.
He said the NHI approved the rehabilitation of the 5.6 meter tall watchtower, it being a national treasure.
National Museum Director Jeremy Barns, who recently inspected the new structure, which has a circumferential board walk, told Marron that his office would help promote the area as a prime destination for tourists.
“For our long term, plan we might extend it and build a boardwalk along the beach for retirees and exercise-fanatics or watch our beautiful sunset,” Marron said, saying that the area, with the dominating watchtower, is now being used in wedding pictorials and selfies.
Marron disclosed that before its rehabilitation, there have been plans to stabilize the structure by strengthening its foundations but, he said, it should be first declared a historical landmark before financial support can be poured in for its construction and preservation.
Three years ago, the Luna municipal council passed Resolution 68-2013, requesting the NHCP to declare the watchtower a national historical landmark, to enable government agencies to fund the preservation project. It also passed Resolution 69-2013, which requested the National Museum to declare it a national treasure.
“Baluarte” is considered the most popular among four historical watchtowers in the province. The three others are located in Balaoan at Darigayos Point; San Juan watchtower and Carlatan watchtower in San Fernando City.
The Luna watchtower, which faces the West Philippine Sea, sits on a wide shore where colored pebbles in different sizes are collected and sold and even exported in sacks for decorative constructions and landscaping. Stone-picking is a major livelihood in the town. Jun Elias and William Garcia, Jr/NPN-northboundasia.com