A Walk Back in Time at Faro de Islas Calabazas


WANT TO get away from the scorching summer heat?

Seeking a more serene getaway in Iloilo?

The tranquil island of Calabazas in the northeast part of Panay Island in Ajuy, Iloilo is just a 30-minute pump boat ride away. The crystalline water and picturesque views are not the only treasures that attract local tourists; the history of the isolated Calabazas Lighthouse is equally interesting.

The Spanish-era Faro de Islas Calabazas has been deserted for a long time.

Built above a small hill overlooking the Guimaras Strait leading towards the Port of Ajuy with housing pavilion, the tourelle-type tower Calabazas Lighthouse is also known as “Faro de Islas Calabazas” and was constructed in 1892 and became operational in 1895.

“It is one of the 27 major lighthouses built to illuminate the Philippine archipelago during the Spanish reign,” said Romina Capalla, Ajuy Iloilo tourism officer.

THE MODERN LIGHT HOUSE. The metal tourelle of Faro de Islas Calabazas has already collapsed. Tourelle is French for “turret” or “little tower”. It is now replaced with modern aluminum towers and lights.

Faro de Islas Calabazas is known to the locality as “Parola Island” and this spectacular site has become a place for island hoppers, fisherfolks, and even local journalists. 

The structure being in ruins and deserted for a long time, the remnants of the pavilion are the only traces of the historical lighthouse that was built during the Spanish era. Some of the remnants of the said pavilion are found still standing at the top of the island.

RUINS. The remnants of the house pavilion of the Calabazas Lighthouse, also known as “Faro de Islas Calabazas” that was constructed in 1892 and became operational in 1895. This is in the northeast part of Panay Island in Ajuy, Iloilo.

“This island has sheltered us against sea storms and when we stopped by the island, we often see travelers and families visiting the tower,” shares Edwin Labsan, a 50-year-old fisherman.

Fishermen are just some of the regular visitors to Faro de Islas Calabazas, also known by locals as “Parola Island”. Others who visit are nature lovers, island hoppers, and even local journalists who feature the island.

Other lighthouses in northern Iloilo are Faro de Islote de Manigonigo in the municipality of Carles and Faro de Sibulac-Babac de Gigantes in Estancia town. Most of these have collapsed despite having metal tourelle towers.

Tourelle is French for “turret” or “little tower”. They are now replaced with modern aluminum towers and lights.

“Faro” is the Spanish word for lighthouse and the Calabazas lighthouse is one among many around the archipelago that were built to light the seas and channels of the country to guide ships in and through the most important sea channels to the ports of Manila, Iloilo, and Cebu.

Prior to the pandemic, Calabazas was open to tourists who were allowed to bring their own food if they wanted to stay longer in the island. However, they must observe the “Leave No Trace” policy which means that they should be responsible for their own garbage.

Things they can do at Calabazas are trekking and island hopping since Calabazas has neighboring resorts such as Marbuena, Nasidman and Guin-Asyan island that are the most-visited locations in the municipality of Ajuy./PN


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