Lighthouses of the Philippines: Eastern Visayas (Samar and Leyte)

The Philippines include more than 7000 islands stretching over 1750 km (1100 mi) of the western Pacific. The archipelago was a Spanish colony until the Spanish-American War of 1898, which brought the islands under U.S. administration. Japan occupied the islands during World War II (1942-45), and the country became independent shortly thereafter (1946).

This page lists lighthouses in the Eastern Visayas Region in eastern part of the Phillipines, including the island provinces of Samar, Biliran, and Leyte. At the northern edge of the area, between Luzon and Samar, is the crucial San Bernardino Strait, the only passage from the Pacific Ocean into the central Philippines.

In the list, lighthouses are grouped under the closest major island, although a great many of the lighthouses are actually located on small islands in the nearby shipping lanes.

The lighthouse preservation movement is gaining some momentum in the Philippines. Until recently, all of the historic light stations were in very poor condition. However, the Philippines Coast Guard, which operates aids to navigation in the country, has recently repaired and renovated many of the towers. An "adopt a lighthouse" program has taken hold, and there's hope more extensive restorations will be carried out within the next few years.

Lighthouses in the Philippines are maintained by the Coast Guard's Marine Safety Services Command. Filipino and English are official languages in the Philippines. In Filipino, lighthouses are called parolas; an island is isla or pulo.

Many Philippine lighthouses are not well known, so better information and photos are needed.

ARLHS numbers are from the ARLHS World List of Lights. Admiralty numbers are from volume F of the Admiralty List of Lights & Fog Signals. U.S. NGA List numbers are from Publication 112.

General Sources
Philippine Lighthouses
8 historic photos posted by Johann Stockinger.
Lighthouses in the Philippines
Wikipedia article, with links to articles on several of the individual lighthouses.
Spanish Lighthouses of the Philippines
This is the Directory's own list of the Spanish light stations, with notes on their current status.
Lighthouses in the Philippines
Photos by various photographers available from Wikimedia.
World of Lighthouses - Philippines
Photos by various photographers available from Lightphotos.net.
Marine Safety Services Command - Lighthouses
Lists of active lighthouses maintained by MSSC.

Capul Island Light
Capul Island Light, Samar, April 2006
Flickr Creative Commons photo by potocraze

Samar Lighthouses

Northern Samar Province Lighthouses
* Capul Island
1896. Active; focal plane 43 m (142 ft); white flash every 7 s. 12 m (39 ft) round granite block tower with gallery, painted white with red trim. The keeper's houses are in ruins. Japanese gun emplacements nearby. Manuel Noche found the light station to be in "deplorable" condition around 2000, but obviously it has been restored recently. A photo is at the top of this page, Jeb Saluib's 2009 photo shows the keeper's house, the Coast Guard has a fuzzy photo, a distant view is available, Stockinger has a historic photo, the lighthouse appears on a postage stamp, and Google has a satellite view of the station. Except for the lighthouse, the station buildings are collapsing, as seen in a 2016 aerial photo. Located at the northern tip of the island facing the western entrance to the San Bernardino Strait, which is only 7 km (4 mi) wide at this point. The island, site of a 16th century Spanish mission, is accessible by passenger ferry from Allen in northwestern Samar. Site open, tower closed. ARLHS PHI-045; Admiralty F2492; NGA 14152.
* Allen
Date unknown. Active; focal plane 12.5 m (41 ft); white flash every 5 s. 10 m (33 ft) round barbell-shaped white fiberglass tower. R. Madronero has a photo, a distant view is available, and Google has an indistinct satellite view. Allen, near the northwestern corner of Samar, is the terminal for ferries linking Samar to Luzon. Located on the ferry wharf. Site open, tower closed. Admiralty F2474; NGA 14988.
San Bernardino Island
1896. Active; focal plane 41 m (136 ft); white flash every 10 s. 12 m (39 ft) granite block tower with gallery, painted white. Sibling of the Capul Island lighthouse. The original lantern and 3rd order Fresnel lens were removed in the late 1990s. They were replaced by an extension of the tower with a second gallery and the light mounted on a mast. The extension is painted white; the original tower, originally unpainted, is now also white. 1-story keeper's houses in ruins. Jack Evasco's photo is at right, Joel France has a photo, Jernel Patena has a photo, and Google has an indistinct satellite view. Located atop a small island at the eastern entrance to San Bernardino Strait, the passage into the central Philippines between the islands of Luzon and Samar. Accessible only by boat. Site open, tower closed. ARLHS PHI-052; Admiralty F2488; NGA 14148.
* [Catarman]
Date unknown. Active; focal plane 11 m (36 ft); continuous red light. 10 m (33 ft) concrete pillar with a buttressed base. David de la Hyde has a photo, and Google has an indistinct satellite view of the location. Located at the mouth of the Catarman River in Catarman. Site open, tower closed. Admiralty F2484; NGA 14984.

San Bernardino Island Light, Biri, September 2013
Panoramio photo copyright Jack Evasco; used by permission
* San José
Date unknown. Active; focal plane 13 m (43 ft); green flash every 10 s. 10 m (33 ft) round barbell-shaped white fiberglass tower. A distant view from the sea is available, and Google has an indistinct satellite view. Located on the waterfront of San José, a fishing town on Samar's north coast. Site open, tower closed. Admiralty F2482; NGA 14992.
* Batag Island (1)
1907. Inactive since 2000 at least. 31 m (101 ft) round cylindrical concrete tower with double gallery, unpainted. The accompanying keeper's houses are in ruins. Romel Jumalon has a photo and a distant view, a blog has closeup photos (about 3/4 the way down the page), and Google has a satellite view. Built early in the U.S. occupation, this historic tower marks the northeastern corner of Samar and the southern entrance to San Bernardino Strait. The lighthouse is a sibling of the much better known Cape Bolinao Light in northern Luzon. Intended as a landfall light, it is at least 2 km (1.25 mi) from the sea. Located on Batag Island about 20 km (12.5 mi) northeast of Laoang. Accessible only by boat, but ferry service to the island from Laoang is available. Site open, tower status unknown. ARLHS PHI-010.
#Batag Island (2)
2000 (station established 1907). Destroyed by Typhoon Milenyo (also called Typhoon Xangsane) in September 2006. Approx. 20 m (66 ft) round cylindrical tower. Joni Bonifacio has a photo taken in April 2006. As of the March 2015 this light had not been replaced, although it is still listed by NGA. The light was located near the historic lighthouse. Site open. ex-Admiralty F2448; NGA 15004.

Batag Island Light, Laoang, March 2015
photo copyright Loyd Martinez; used by permission

Eastern Samar Province Lighthouses
Divinubo Island
1906. Inactive; listed with focal plane 41 m (136 ft); white flash every 5 s. 14 m (46 ft) square white concrete tower with four buttresses and an external stairway spiraling around the tower. Josiah Sicad has a photo, a second photo is available (fifth row of thumbnails), and Google has an indistinct satellite view of the station. There is a mystery concerning this light; Nature Watch of Eastern Samar has a posting dated October 2013 that describes the light as "electrically lighted and enclosed in thick glass. It beams a bright light every 15 seconds." This sounds like the lighthouse has been replaced by a modern tower, but there is no other evidence of this. Located on a small island southeast of Borongan, the capital of Eastern Samar, marking the entrance to the harbor of that town. Accessible by a hiking trail. Site open, and the tower can be climbed. ARLHS PHI-082; Admiralty F2450; NGA 15012.
** Suluan Island (2)
Date unknown (station established 1909). Active; focal plane 138 m (452 ft); three white flashes every 15 s. 16 m (52 ft) round hourglass-shaped metal tower, painted white. The 1-story keeper's house is abandoned. Arriane Lacoste's photo is at right, another photo and a third photo are available, and Google has an indistinct satellite view. There are also ruins of the original lighthouse, which was destroyed by the U.S. Army's 6th Ranger Battalion in a raid on the Japanese garrison here on 17 October 1944, a skirmish several days prior to General Douglas McArthur's famous landing on Leyte. This lighthouse marks the northern entrance to Leyte Gulf, off the southeastern corner of Samar. Suluan is also the first landing place of Ferdinand Magellan's round-the-world expedition in March 1521. Located at the highest point of the island about 40 km (25 mi) southeast of Guiuan. Accessible only by boat; transportation from Guiuan is available. Site open, tower apparently open for climbing. ARLHS PHI-060; Admiralty F2454; NGA 15020.
* Guiuan
Date unknown. Active; focal plane unknown; white flash every 5 s. Light mounted on the church in Guiuan. A photo of the church is available; the light appears to be on the bell tower on the left of the photo. Google has a satellite view. Located in Guiuan, a fishing town on Samar's southeastern peninsula. Site open, tower status unknown. Admiralty F2453; NGA 15016.

Suluan Island Light, Samar, August 2008
Panoramio photo copyright Arriane Lacoste; permission requested

Samar Province: Southwest Coast (Leyte Gulf) Lighthouses
[Mariquitdaquit Island]
Date unknown. Active; focal plane 18 m (59 ft); white flash every 4 s. 10 m (33 ft) concrete post with a buttressed base. A photo and a view from the sea are available, and Google has an indistinct satellite view of the dark tower. Located on a small island placed dangerously in the entrance to San Pedro and San Paulo Bay, which separates southern Samar from Leyte. Accessible only by boat. Site open, tower closed. Admiralty F2456; NGA 14924.
Jinamoc Island
Date unknown. Active; focal plane 24 m (79 ft); two white flashes every 10 s. 9 m (30 ft) white concrete tower. Keeper's house and other station buildings. The light is just visible in a distant view of the island (click on the photo for enlargement), and Google has a fuzzy satellite view of the station. This guides northbound vessels approaching the narrow San Juanico Strait separating Leyte from Samar. Located on the west side of Jinamoc Island, about 2 km (1.25 mi) south of Basey, Samar, and 7 km (4.5 mi) east of Tacloban, the capital of Leyte. Accessible only by boat. Site status unknown. Admiralty F2458; NGA 14920.

Samar Province: Northwest Coast (Samar Sea) Lighthouses
Daram (Danao-Danaoan Island)
Date unknown. Active; focal plane unknown; white flash every 5 s. Approx. 9 m (30 ft) white concrete or fiberglass tower. No photo available, but Google has a distant satellite view. Located on heights at the northwest end of Danao-Danaoan Island, a small island off the northwestern tip of the much larger Daram Island. Accessible only by boat. Site status unknown. Admiralty F2465; NGA 15022.
[Catbalogan]
Date unknown. Active; focal plane 30.5 m (100 ft); red flash every 5 s. 7.5 m (25 ft) white concrete post. The light is centered in a view across the harbor, and Google has a distant satellite view. Located on a steep hill opposite the waterfront of Catbalogan, a town on the west coast of Samar. Site status unknown. Admiralty F2464; NGA 15028.
Gandara River
Date unknown. Active; focal plane 10 m (33 ft); red flash every 5 s. 9 m (30 ft) white concrete tower. No photo available, but Google has a distant satellite view. Located on the south side of the entrance to the Gandara River, which leads to the small port of Pagsanjan. Accessible only by boat. Site status unknown. Admiralty F2470; NGA 15032.
Santo Niño
Date unknown. Active; focal plane unknown; white flash every 5 s. Approx. 9 m (30 ft) white fiberglass tower. No photo available, but Google has a distant satellite view. Located on heights at the eastern tip of Santo Niño (Limbangcavayan) Island. Accessible only by boat. Site status unknown. Admiralty F2468; NGA 15034.
Cabilison Island (Almagro)
Date unknown (1930s?). Active; focal plane 70 m (230 ft); white flash every 10 s. 10 m (33 ft) white metal tower. Keeper's house and other station buildings. No photo available, but Google has a satellite view of the station. Almagro is an inhabited island in the southern part of the Samar Sea, between Samar and southern Masbate. Located at the highest point of Cabilison Island, a small island off the southwestern tip of Almagro. Accessible only by boat. Site status unknown. ARLHS PHI-011; Admiralty F2466; NGA 15036.
Calbayog
Date unknown. Active; focal plane 10 m (33 ft); red flash every 5 s. 10 m (33 ft) round white concrete tower. No photo available, and the tower has not been found in Google's satellite view of the listed location. Located somewhere on the waterfront of Calbayog, at the mouth of the Calbayog River. Site status unknown. Admiralty F2472; NGA 15044.
* Malaga
Date unknown. Active; focal plane unknown; white flash every 5 s. 9.5 m (31 ft) round barbell-shaped white fiberglass tower. A photo is at right, and Google has an indistinct satellite view. Located on the waterfront of Malaga, a village near the northern end of the Calbayog municipality. Site open, tower closed. Admiralty F2473; NGA 15037.

Malaga Light, Calbayog, undated
Facebook photo by Calbayog City

Biliran and Leyte Lighthouses

Biliran Province Lighthouses
Note: Including several islands in the Samar Sea off the north coast of Leyte, Biliran is one of the newest and smallest provinces of the Philippines; it was separated from Leyte Province in 1992.
* Mabini (Higatangan Island)
Date unknown. Active; focal plane unknown; white flash every 7 s. Approx. 20 m (66 ft) octagonal cylindrical white metal tower. A closeup photo is available, and Google has a satellite view. Located near the center of Higatangan Island, a small inhabited island just off the northwestern tip of Leyte. Site open, tower closed. Admiralty F2413; NGA 15040.
* Kawayan
Date unknown. Active; focal plane unknown; red flash every 5 s. Approx. 11 m (36 ft) round barbell-shaped white fiberglass tower. A photo (almost halfway down the page) is available, but the tower may be too new to appear in Google's satellite view. Located at Kawayan, a port near the northwest corner of Biliran Island. Site open, tower closed. Admiralty F2415; NGA 15039.

Leyte Province: North Coast (Samar Sea) Lighthouses
* Carigara
Date unknown. Active; focal plane 9 m (30 ft); green flash every 5 s. 8 m (26 ft) round barbell-shaped white concrete tower. A very distant view is available, but clouds block Google's satellite view. Located west of the pier on the waterfront of Carigara. Site probably open, tower closed. Admiralty F2418; NGA 14892.
Canuay Islet
Date unknown. Active; focal plane 32 m (105 ft); white flash every 5 s. 20 m (66 ft) octagonal cylindrical white metal tower, mounted on a robust stone platform. A photo is available (about 1/4 the way down the page), and Bing has a satellite view. Located on an island marking the western entrance to the Janabatas Channel separating Leyte from Samar, about 25 km (15 mi) northwest of Tacloban. Site status unknown. ARLHS PHI-075; Admiralty F2420; NGA 14908.

Leyte Province: East Coast (Leyte Gulf) Lighthouses
Tacloban
Date unknown. Active; focal plane 16 m (52 ft); red flash every 5 s. Described by NGA as a "white structure on top of building." No photo available, and the structure is not obvious in Google's satellite view. Located near the waterfront of Tacloban, the capital city of Leyte Province. Site status unknown. Admiralty F2457; NGA 14916.
Tolosa
Date unknown. Active; focal plane 127 m (417 ft); red flash every 4 s. "Concrete tower on fort," according to NGA. No photo available, but Google has a satellite view. The fort is now a catholic shrine, the Mt. Inapusong Sacred Heart Shrine. Located on a promontory on the east coast of Leyte about 20 km (13 mi) south of Tacloban. Site status unknown. Admiralty F2455; NGA 14928.
Abuyog
Date unknown. Active; focal plane 23 m (77 ft); white flash every 5 s. 20 m (66 ft) white octagonal cylindrical tower. A photo is at right, and Google has a satellite view. Located on the north side of the harbor entrance at Abuyog, a town on the east coast of Leyte about 100 km (60 mi) south of Tacloban. Site status unknown. ARLHS PHI-065; Admiralty F2454.7; NGA 14932.
Abuyog Light
Abuyog Light, Abuyog, Leyte
Municipality of Abuyog photo

Southern Leyte Province Lighthouses
San Pedro
2008. Active; focal plane 61 m (200 ft); white flash every 5 s. 10 m (33 ft) round barbell-shaped fiberglass tower on a metal base. No photo available, but Google has a satellite view. Located on San Pedro Island, a tadpole-shaped island in Leyte Gulf about 15 km (9 mi) southeast of Silago. Accessible only by boat. Site status unknown (probably surrounded by private property). Admiralty F2425; NGA 14932.5.
* Liloan Harbor
Date unknown. Active; focal plane 10 m (33 ft); red flash every 5 s. 9 m (30 ft) unpainted concrete post light with a stairway winding around the tower. A view from the sea is available, a blog post has a sunset photo (3/4 the way down the page), and Google has an indistinct satellite view. Liloan is at the northern tip of Panaon Island, which is separated from Leyte by a narrow passage crossed by a bridge. It is the terminal for ferreies crossing the Surigao Strait to Mindanao. Located on a point of land at the west entrance to the harbor. Site open, tower closed. Admiralty F2426; NGA 14936.
Caligangan
Date unknown. Active; focal plane 211 m (692 ft); white flash every 5 s. 9.5 m (31 ft) round barbell-shaped white fiberglass tower. No photo available, but Google has a distant satellite view. Located atop a sharp cape on the northeast side of Panaon Island. Site status unknown. Admiralty F2426.1; NGA 14937.
Binit Point (San Ricardo)
Date unknown. Active; focal plane unknown; white flash every 3 s. 20 m (66 ft) octagonal cylindrical white metal tower. No photo available, and the tower does not appear in Google's satellite view. Located at San Ricardo on the southern tip of Panaon Island, marking the north side of the Surigao Strait. Site status unknown. Admiralty F2426.5; NGA 15125.
* Malitbog
Date unknown. Active; focal plane 11 m (36 ft); red flash every 3 s. 9.5 m (31 ft) round barbell-shaped white fiberglass tower. Joel Caturan has a 2012 photo, and Google has an indistinct satellite view. Located on the waterfront of Malitbog, a town on the west side of Sogod Bay. Site open, tower closed. Admiralty F2428; NGA 14940.
* Maasin (2)
Date unknown. Active; focal plane 11 m (36 ft); red flash every 5 s. 9 m (30 ft) unpainted concrete post light with a stairway winding around the tower. A closeup photo is available, the light is just right of center in a photo of the harbor, but the light is inconspicuous in Google's satellite view of the port. Located on the waterfront of Maasin, a small port near the southern tip of Leyte. Site open, tower closed. Admiralty F2430; NGA 14948.
Canigao Island (2)
Date unknown (station established 1915). Active; focal plane 24 m (78 ft); white flash every 5 s. 20 m (66 ft) white octagonal tower. A photo is at right, Larry Villaruel has a good photo, Ian Rey Abatayo has a closeup of the top of the tower, and Bing has a satellite view of the station. The original lighthouse was a 24 m (79 ft) wood skeletal tower. Located on an island in the Canigao Strait, which separates Leyte from Bohol, off Matalom in southwestern Leyte. Site status unknown. ARLHS PHI-074; Admiralty F2434; NGA 14952.
Hindang
Date unknown. Active; focal plane 11.5 m (37 ft); green flash every 5 s. 9.5 m (31 ft) round barbell-shaped white metal and fiberglass tower. No photo available, and the tower is not seen in Google's fuzzy satellite view. Located at the north end of the Hindang waterfront, marking the entrance around the north end of a reef. Site status unknown. Admiralty F2436; NGA 14956.
Canigao Island Light
Canigao Island Light, Leyte
City of Tacloban Tourist Development photo

Leyte Province: West Coast (Camotes Sea) Lighthouses
* Baybay
Date unknown. Active; focal plane 13 m (43 ft); white flash every 5 s. 10 m (33 ft) round white barbell-shaped fiberglass tower. A photo is available, and Bing has a distant satellite view. Located on the waterfront of Baybay, a port on the west side of Leyte. Site open, tower closed. Admiralty F2438; NGA 14960.
* Albuera
Date unknown. Active; focal plane 12 m (39 ft); white flash every 10 s. 10 m (33 ft) hexagonal cylindrical white aluminum tower. Julio Irastorza Hermosilla's photo is at right, another photo and a third photo are available, and Google has a fuzzy satellite view. Located on the waterfront of Albuera, a town on Ormoc Bay. Site open, tower closed. Admiralty F2440; NGA 14976.
* Ormoc
Date unknown. Active; focal plane 13 m (43 ft); white flash every 5 s. 9 m (30 ft) round white hourglass-shaped fiberglass tower. Russell Fermin has a photo, Edgar Ediza has a sunrise photo, and Google has a satellite view. Located on the waterfront of Ormoc, the principal port on the west side of Leyte. Site open, tower closed. Admiralty F2442; NGA 14968.
Sacay Point
Date unknown. Active; focal plane 10 m (33 ft); red flash every 5 s. 10 m (33 ft) round white hourglass-shaped fiberglass tower. No photo available, but Google has a satellite view. Located on a point on the west side of the entrance to the harbor of Isabel, on Leyte's northwestern peninsula. Site open, tower closed. Admiralty F2443; NGA 14972.
* Palompon
Date unknown. Active; focal plane 11 m (36 ft); red flash every 5 s. 9 m (30 ft) round white hourglass-shaped fiberglass tower. A photo is available, and Google has an indistinct satellite view. Palompon is an important ferry terminal facing the Visayan Sea on the northwest coast of Leyte. Located at the north end of the Palompon waterfront. Site open, tower closed. Admiralty F2444; NGA 14980.

Information available on lost lighthouses:


Albuera Light, Albuera, Leyte, May 2010
Panoramio photo copyright Julio Irastorza Hermosilla
permission requested

Notable faux lighthouses:

Adjoining pages: North: Bicol | South: Central Visayas | Southwest: Western Visayas

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Posted July 24, 2005. Checked and revised September 27, 2015. Lighthouses: 35. Site copyright 2015 Russ Rowlett and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.