Thursday, October 24, 2013

SPANISH WATCHTOWERS #5 The search for Bacnotan Watchtower (La Union)

"What is this hidden and just peeking behind the high wall?
Without any legs and feet, it stood there at a side near a wall.
Without eyes, it desires to see the horizon and the vessels of the sea that it had used-to. Without any feelings, lonesome in the companion of some mango trees, i think i heard it cry. Friends or foes cling in betrayal to its fragile and aged body, tearing it apart. Visited by birds and perhaps even spirits from the past that may still linger to its virtual memory and frighten the living. It does not yearn for nobody can hear it longing. A mute and blind witness. It is a sad thing.

...Old and forgotten"


-my pagnapagna-

Around 4:30 in the afternoon, i arrived at downtown Bacnotan, La Union (Supermarket area) and went to Barangay Pandan on a tricycle to look for the old Spanish watchtower. Together with the tricycle driver we asked locals where can we find the said structure. After some few inquiries, one of them told us the location and unfortunately i heard him say "Tinibtib dan a didiay ediay nga banda" (They have wrecked it down in that area). I felt sad upon hearing what he told us.
I was frustrated. Why would they do that?
That's not what i expected of it.
Since i was there already, i still want to see it even if it was some rubble
Near the site, i paid the tricycle driver and went on my own down to an open area where there is a bungalow at a distance.
I asked the man standing in front of the bungalow
"Manong, ayan na ditoy dyay old nga tower?" (Sir, where is the old tower?)
"Wen, ada dita" (Yes, it is just there), and we went at the back of the bungalow on the bushes and some trees. I looked at the direction where he pointed expecting to see a rubble. I looked at the ground but i did not see anything. I looked at eye level, at a distance  from a clearing through leaves of trees, i saw an old rustic wall. It is the Old watchtower and contrary to what the man said it is still standing. I was smiling to my delight and went to see it closer. As i went closer passing the trees that framed what i saw, nothing is there but a vacant lot near a high wall. I was puzzled, i thought i saw the Watchtower from a distance or was that the concrete hollow block wall/fence?. How could that be? After realization, i said to myself "Oh my Gulay! The old watchtower is behind this high concrete hollow block wall". It is in the other side of the 3 meters high fence.I went back to the road and rode a tricycle to get at the main entrance gate of the fenced compound. At the gate, I asked the security guard to whom can i talked to to get permission to see the old Watchtower. Unfortunately, it was some few minutes passed 5 o'clock in the afternoon and their bosses had gone home. I was advised to come back the next morning.

The main gate of the walled compound

I returned the next day October 22, 2013. 
Talking to the security guards at the gate of the walled compound, they were hesitant to let me in or even talk to their bosses. They  said that their bosses are in Manila and they can not decide whether to let me in.
 I was desperate to see that old watchtower, so i called my "lifeline", Engineer Abad, a former Municipal Councilor of the Town. He knows some of the managers of the company and said that i should talk to them. I kept on "name-dropping" Engineer's and eventually after one of the security guard went to talk to a certain Mr.Tan, they let me in. They let one of the security guard escort me going to the area. On our way to the area, where the old structure is located, he told me that the compound is haunted. They see a man and a woman around running, walking and then vanishes. Even one of their bosses had seen these "ghosts", he told me. 
It is a wide compound with large warehouse buildings. 
We went to the north side of the compound where there are mango trees and shrubs growing on its grounds (can be mistaken as a patch of forest). Deeper into the area, near the 3 meters high fence wall of concrete hollow blocks, stands the old Spanish watchtower. Took some photos of the structure and went near it while the security guard stayed behind. 

With security guard Francis Almoite and the Watchtower at the background

I went inside the structure through an entrance opening at the eastern side and did some measuring.

inside the watchtower

Lingered some more time in the area, took photos, videos and did some on-site sketching.
We departed the area and went to the gate. Thanked the security guards and went on my way to Home Sweet Home.

-end of pagnapagna-

My sincerest thanks to:
Engr. Florante Abad (former Councilor of Bacnotan)
T. Tan (property custodian)

Watchtower of Bacnotan

Located inside a walled compound (privately owned fenced lot), this old watchtower is a rotund structure made generally of bricks and coral stones. 
Young trees and shrubs grow on its cavities and cracks.
Of all the old Spanish watchtowers here in La Union, this is the most distant from the sea. Historically, it was said that the shoreline gradually receded to its present position now.

the entrance looking outside

From my inspection:
-portion of its upper western wall had fallen down
-multiple cracks on the structure are visible
-two or more good shakes and the walls comes crumbling down
-it is in bad condition    

For my sketch of the watchtowers CLICK HERE

For the other Ilocos Watchtowers:

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