Apo Reef Part Two: The White Lighthouse

The Apo Reef Light was first erected in Bajo Apo island in Apo Reef Natural Park in 1903 after being conceived and approved during the Spanish era under the Maritime Lighting Plan of Spain. The design planning of some of the sections of the light house first began in 1896. The construction of the lighthouse itself was halted momentarily with the eruption of the Philippine Revolution and the Spanish-American war and was continued later on by the combined workmanships of both the Americans and the Filipinos, paving the way for the first light from the lighthouse to warn incoming ships of the shallow reefs surrounding the Atoll in 1906.


DSC_6846The original tower which features an iron skeletel tower was the highest at the time standing a towering 118 feet. The present day lighthouse stands 110 feet with solar panels that collects natural        electricity which the few inhabitants of Apo Reef (members of the Philippine Rangers) uses during nighttime.The white lighthouse stands on the right side when approaching from a boat coming from the direction of Sablayan, Occidental Mindoro.

The view deck is found almost halfway of the lighthouse tower but still offers a wonderful view of the surrounding waters and the thick mangrove forest where we came from on our way to the lighthouse.

Along with a few travel blogger friends, Marcos, Gael and Dawin we spent almost more than an hour on the view deck just enjoying the cool breeze blowing from the whole Mindoro Strait. The 360 degree view was addicting and we end up sitting around the deck looking at every direction and snapping photographs once in a while.

The Apo Reef, said to be under consideration to become a UNESCO World Heritage Site in the near future, is a popular scuba diving destination. It was a downer that the four of us came without any diving experiences but that did not derailed us from enjoying the other facets of what Apo Reef has to offer.

From afar you can spot the Calamian group of Islands in Coron, Palawan - must be another 5-6 hour boat ride away and as the sun almost sets in the horizon and the sky slowly faded from blue to red it was an awesome feeling sort of a 'somber acid trip' just to be in a place like this. Suddenly, I felt an afternoon like this should be experienced more often in my coming days. 

From the doldrums of a steady, uneasy and almost boring life behind a cubicle in the towering landscape of big city like Makati to the almost willfully unassuming, laid back but paradise-like setting of Apo Reef. I experienced traveling as more than the mere moving of feet unto another direction. There's more to it that I could ever pinpoint.

It was moments before the darkness finally crept in and as we go down the steep steel stairs of the lighthouse. It was another one of those satisfying moment that beats every injection of chemicals into my vein. A radical feeling of being high, of discovering a new place and seeing images that will someday remain solidly in my head. 

 There's always a feeling of isolation that goes with lighthouses.      Standing on the edge of a small island, it sees afar deep into the       ocean trying to connect and send messages to incoming ships that  come and go. It is a fitting reflection of an ordinary mortal who lives side by side with his fellowmen and whose random acts made consciously or even unconsciously, will always send messages across. For good or for ill, you can only hope there will be no lost in translations in between to avoid leading others to a dangerous shallow reef that'll cause others to sink.

A lighthouse and a ship captain does not go through all that bullshit. It stands firmly, blinks it lights and message sent clear as crystal. If only life can be that uncomplicated, untidy, unhinged from outside distortions. There wont be any ill-communication happening around us.

"The old tree brooded over me silently, a living thing. I heard a mouse snoring in the garden weeds" (The Dharma Bums - Jack Kerouac)

Such a perfect place to smoke some weed and just get high with life and wonder about the promise of the next place and so on and on and on...