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NEWS FROM THE PHILIPPINES
Bagatao Island Lighthouse, Magallanes, Sorsogon
By Manuel L. Noche
Located in the eastern tip of the Island of Bagatao guarding the entrance to the Bay of Sorsogon as well as lighting Ticao Pass, the light tower at Bagatao Island stands as a remarkable landmark. It guides vessels entering the Bay of Sorsogon as well as ships passing between Ticao Island and the Island of Luzon through the Ticao Pass on to Ragay Gulf via the Burias Pass. Likewise, the light tower guides ships plying the Manila-Sorsogon route via the passages through Ticao and Masbate Islands. Light flashes white every 5 seconds.
Erected on top of a hill overlooking the Ticao Pass, the light tower in the Island of Bagatao is similar in design and specification to that found in San Fernando, La Union Ð based on similarity of construction, design and materials.
Using a fourth- order lens, Bagatao's lighthouse was supposed to have been lit with a third-order lens. As such, it was built with the necessary infrastructure that supports such high category.
Due to its more strategic location overlooking the passages of Ticao, Masbate, and Burias, the Comision de Faros had decided to build instead a third-order lens on Isla San Miguel in Ticao Island, thereby making the lighthouse in Bagatao Island a minor light.
Though little is written about the light tower in Bagatao Island, it is assumed that having the same specifications as the one found in San Fernando, La Union, the tower is made entirely of steel. Its parts are riveted together and the whole assembly bolted onto a granite base. A Tourelle-type tower standing roughly six meters from the base to the overhanging balcony supports a canopy containing a fourth-order lens.
The tower at San Fernando, based on archival documents, contains a sixth-order lens whereas the tower of Bagatao Island, based on available documents had a fourth-order lens. Considering such disparity, it is a big question as to whether the tower can support such change in size and weight, if such a change were to be made. The canopy is as well made of steel and has still intact the exhaust ball which acts as a chimney for the lantern. A directional vane is perched the top of the tower.
The accommodations which normally accompany lighthouses is nowhere to be found these days. Though recent constructions were found within its vicinity, these modern dwellings as well did not stand the test of time or the elements, not to mention vandalism. This information was gathered from the Coast Guard who accompanied us to the light station in Bagatao Island. The officers said that the decrepit condition of the quarters was due primarily to vandalism.
It is assumed that the original quarters were made of light materials, which was replaced over the years with more durable accommodations. But abandonment of the quarters commenced right after the solarization program of all light stations.
But the tower, though not impervious to the elements, is in a generally good condition. Although rust is obviously eating away at its thick metal sheets, the tower has been able to stand the test of time.
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