LUNA, LA UNION–Tropical storm “LANDO” which slammed into Northern Luzon with powerful winds last week has toppled the historic Spanish watchtower in the coastal village of Victoria here.
“It is ironic that it was destroyed when the National Historical Institute approved it as one of the country’s national treasures,” Mayor Victor Marvin Marron said, referring to the watchtower.
Marron added that the NHI has the final decision to rehabilitate the structure which has been crumbling through the years and already leaning at 20-degree angle.
“Baluarte”, as the 5.6 meter tall watchtower is widely-known, was made of terracotta bricks and is estimated by historians to be 150-400 years old.
The Luna Tourism Council said that the Baluarte was a small fortress used by Spanish civilian guards as a lookout for Moro pirates riding in vintas (boats) who pillaged Christian villages along the country’s coasts.
“There is a plan to to strengthen its weakened foundation by injecting it with a mixture of water, sand and cement through high-pressure pumps, to fill the cavities in the sand and stabilize the ground bed,” Marron said.
Two years ago, the Luna municipal council passed Resolution 68-2013, requesting the National Historical Commission to declare the watchtower a national treasure. Also, in another resolution, the municipal council asked the National Museum to declare the same as a historical site so as to preserve it and enable government agencies to provide funds for its rehabilitation.
A popular tourist attraction, the Luna watchtower is one of four of its kind in the province and are located at the Darigayos Point in Balaoan, San Juan and Carlatan in San Fernando City.
Facing the West Philippine sea, the Luna watchtower is located on a beach that abounds with stone pebbles of various sizes and color and stone-picking is a major livelihood in the town. The so-called Luna stones are sold in the country and exported to Asian nations like Japan, South Korea and Taiwan. William Jun Garcia/NorthboundPH