Lighthouses of the Philippines: Palawan

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 of the southwestern Phillipines, including the province of Palawan. Palawan is a large but narrow island, about 450 km (280 mi) long but rarely more than 50 km (30 mi) wide. Separating the South China Sea on the northwest from the Sulu Sea on the southeast, the island is largely undeveloped and includes many outstanding natural areas. Palawan Province also includes islands to the northeast and southwest of Palawan Island, as well as many of the reefs of the Sulu Sea. The province is sparsely populated, with fewer than 800,000 residents spread over a very large area.

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.

Philippine lighthouses are often called parolas, an apparent adaptation of the Spanish word farola. 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.

Cape Melville Light
Cape Melville Light, Balabac, December 2006
Flickr photo copyright JuLio Banderas; permission requested

Calamian Islands Lighthouses
Note: The Calamian Islands are a small group located off the northeastern end of Palawan. The Mindoro Strait separates the islands from Mindoro.
Bantac Island
Date unknown. Active; focal plane unknown; three white flashes every 10 s. Approx. 10 m (33 ft) round barbell-shaped white fiberglass tower. No photo available, but Google has a satellite view. Located on Bantac, an island in the Mindoro Strait about 20 km (13 mi) northeast of Coron. Accessible only by boat. Site status unknown. Admiralty F2174.5; NGA 14486.
Delian Island
Date unknown. Active; focal plane unknown; one short and one long white flash every 6 s. Approx. 10 m (33 ft) round barbell-shaped white fiberglass tower. No photo available, but Bing has a satellite view. Located on the southern tip of Delian, an island southeast of Coron. Accessible only by boat. Site status unknown. Admiralty F2176; NGA 14497.
Coron Point
Date unknown. Active; focal plane unknown; white flash every 5 s. Approx. 10 m (33 ft) round white fiberglass tower, flared at the top and bottom. A distant view from the sea is available, and Google has a satellite view. Located at the southern tip of Coron, marking the entrance to Coron harbor. Site status unknown, but there's a good view from ferries rounding the point. Admiralty F2179.2; NGA 14497.2.
* Culion Island
Date unknown. Active; focal plane 35 m (115 ft); red flash every 5 s. 3.5 m (11 ft) post mounted atop the watchtower of a small Spanish fort (the rest of the fort has disappeared). A photo is at right, a 2007 photo and a second photo (2/3 the way down the page) are available, and a tourist site also has a photo, but the tower is hard to spot in a Google satellite view. Culion is the second largest island in the Calamian group, located southwest of Coron. Located next to the Church of the Immaculate Conception, on the north side of the entrance to Culion harbor and on the northeast side of Culion Island. Site open; visitors are free to climb to the watchtower. Admiralty F2174; NGA 14496.
Dicabaito Island
Date unknown. Active; focal plane unknown; two white flashes every 3 s. Approx. 10 m (33 ft) round barbell-shaped white fiberglass tower. No photo available, but Bing has a satellite view. This light marks the southernmost point of the Calamian group. NGA misspells the name "Decabaito." Located on a small island just off the southern tip of Dicabaito Island, marking a passage about 8 km (5 mi) wide between the Sulu and South China Seas. Accessible only by boat. Site status unknown. Admiralty F2173; NGA 14494.

Culion Island Light, Culion, April 2010
photo copyright jhohng; permission requested

Palawan Island East Coast Lighthouses
Taytay (2?)
Date unknown. Active; focal plane about 50 m (164 ft); white flash every 5 s. Approx. 9 m (30 ft) round barbell-shaped white fiberglass tower. A distant view is available, and Google has a distant satellite view. NGA lists a light with a focal plane of 9 m (30 ft), but this may be a mistake. Located on a headland north of the waterfront of Taytay, a municipality on Palawan's northern peninsula. Site status unknown. Admiralty F2169; NGA 14514.7.
Langoy Island (2)
Date unknown. Active; focal plane 111 m (364 ft); white flash every 5 s. 11 m (35 ft) round cylindrical white tower, flared at the top. Keepers house in ruins. Bing has a distant satellite view of the station. Located on a small, high island off the northeastern end of Dumaran Island at the northeastern corner of Palawan Island. ARLHS PHI-036; Admiralty F2168; NGA 14516.
* Barbacan Point (Roxas)
Date unknown. Active; focal plane 9 m (30 ft); white flash every 5 s. Approx. 9 m (30 ft) round barbell-shaped white tower. Bing has a distant satellite view. Located on a sharp point on the south side of Roxas. Site open, tower closed. Admiralty F2169.5; NGA 14517.
Bancao-Bancao (Bancaobancaon Point, Puerto Princesa)
Date unknown (station established 1908). Active; focal plane 11 m (36 ft); three white flashes every 5 s. 11 m (36 ft) white concrete tower. Keeper's house and other light station buildings. No photo available, but there's a photo of the view from the lighthouse and Google has a satellite view. This lighthouse is part of an active Philippine Coast Guard station. Located on the north side of the entrance to the harbor of Puerto Princesa, the capital and principal port of Palawan. Site status unknown. ARLHS PHI-009; Admiralty F2163; NGA 14524.
* Tidepool Point
Date unknown. Active; focal plane 13 m (43 ft); red flash every 5 s. 8 m (26 ft) slender square concrete tower with an external concrete spiral stairway encircling the tower. Cesar Pascual has a photo, a 2015 view from the sea is available, and Google has a satellite view. Located on a point of land at the end of Valencia Street in Puerto Princesa. Site open, tower closed. Admiralty F2164; NGA 14520.
* Panacan
Date unknown. Active; focal plane about 11 m (36 ft); red flash every 5 s. Approx. 10 m (33 ft) round hourglass-shaped white tower. A photo is available, and Bing has a satellite view. Located at the base of the quay at Panacan, about 10 km (6 mi) south of Narra. Site open, tower closed. F2161; NGA 14527.
* Brooke's Point (3?)
Date unknown (station established about 1850). Inactive. Approx. 10 m (33 ft) square concrete tower, painted white, with a small gallery and an external spiral stairway encircling the tower. Ton Abengoza's photo is at right, but the towers are not seen in Bing's somewhat fuzzy satellite view of the point. There are reports that a lighthouse was built near here by Sir James Brooke, the legendary White Rajah of Sarawak, in Borneo, to mark his northernmost outpost in southern Palawan. As far as is known this historic lighthouse does not survive. The 1920 light list mentions a light mounted in 1910 on the "government blockhouse." According to the blogger, the light station is endangered by beach erosion; he or she writes that "Rip-rap must be done before it's too late." Brooke's Point is an active seaport 192 km (120 mi) southwest of Puerto Princesa. Site open, tower closed.
* Brooke's Point (4?)
Date unknown (station established about 1850). Active; focal plane unknown; red flash every 5 s. Approx. 18 m (60 ft) cylindrical metal tower, flared at the top and bottom. Ton Abengoza's photo is at right, but the towers are not seen in Bing's somewhat fuzzy satellite view of the point. This light is apparently the successor to the Brooke's Point Light listed by NGA, but it has a much higher focal plane. Site open, tower closed. ARLHS PHI-069; Admiralty F2160; NGA 14532.

Brookes Point Lights, Brookes Point, August 2010
photo copyright Ton Abengoza; permission requested

Palawan Island West Coast Lighthouses
* Malanut Bay (Quezon)
Date unknown. Active; focal plane 15 m (49 ft); white flash every 5 s. 9 m (30 ft) round barbell-shaped tower. Entire lighthouse is white. Yang Xiao has distant view from the pier, and Bing has a satellite view. Located on the waterfront of Quezon, a fishing port on the west coast of Palawan. Site open, tower closed. Admiralty F2171; NGA 14514.
Camungyan Island
Date unknown. Active; focal plane 52 m (171 ft); three white flashes every 15 s. Approx. 9 m (30 ft) white fiberglass tower. No photo available, but Google has a distant satellite view. Located at the highest point of the Tres Marias Islands, a group of three small islands off the entrance to Ulugan Bay, a deep embyament on the west coast north of Puerto Princesa. Accessible only by boat. Site status unknown. Admiralty F2167; NGA 14519.
Cagnipa (Cacnipa) Island
Date unknown. Active; focal plane unknown but probably at least 50 m (164 ft); two white flashes every 6 s. Approx. 10 m (33 ft) white fiberglass tower. No photo available, but Google has a distant satellite view. Located atop an uninhabited island about 25 km (15 mi) west of San Vicente on the northwestern coast of Palawan. Accessible only by boat. Site status unknown. Admiralty F2170; NGA 14515.

Balabac Lighthouses
Note: Balabac is an island off the southwestern tip of Palawan, representing the extreme southwestern end of the country. The Balabac Strait separates the island from Malaysian Sabah.
Espina Point
Date unknown. Active; focal plane 40 m (131 ft); white flash every 5 s. 10 m (33 ft) concrete tower; NGA mentions a dwelling. No photo available, and Google has only a very distant satellite view of the point. Located on Balabac Island about 20 km (12 mi) northeast of Cape Melville, marking the south side of the entrance to Balabac harbor. Site status unknown. ARLHS PHI-024; Admiralty F2156; NGA 14536.
[Comiran Island (2?)]
Date unknown. Active (?); focal plane about 8 m (26 ft); white flash every 5 s. Described by the Admiralty as a "metal structure." A 1998 photo (first photo on the page) shows a mast supported by tripod standing next to a square concrete block that must be the base of an earlier light. No current information available; visitors in 2015 do not mention the light in their account. Bing has a satellite view that probably shows the location of this light. Located on a small island about 25 km (15 mi) off the east coast of Balabac. Accessible only by boat. Site open. Admiralty F2158; NGA 14534.
* Cape Melville (1)
1892. Inactive. 27.5 m (90 ft) octagonal stone tower, unpainted, with lantern and gallery. 1-story stone keeper's house and other light station buildings. A photo by JuLio Banderas is at the top of this page, he has a second good photo and a more distant view, another photo is available, and Google has a satellite view. This historic Spanish lighthouse is located at the southern tip of Balabac Island in southernmost Palawan, marking the southwestern extremity of the Philippines. More information is needed on access to this site. Site and tower reported open. ARLHS PHI-014.
* Cape Melville (2)
Date unknown (station established 1892). Active; focal plane 90 m (296 ft); white flash every 5 s. Approx. 20 m (66 ft) round cylindrical white tower with a flared top. A 2008 photo is available, and Google has a satellite view. Located about 150 m (500 ft) northeast of the historic lighthouse. Site open, tower closed. Admiralty F2152; NGA 14540.

Cuyo Islands Lighthouses
Note: The Cuyo Islands are a collection of low islands at the northern edge of the Sulu Sea, northeast of Palawan.
Manamoc Island
Date unknown. Active; focal plane 61 m (200 ft); white flash every 12 s. 12 m (39 ft) concrete tower. No photo available, but Google has a distant satellite view. Located on heights on the west side of Manamoc, at the northwestern end of the Cuyo group. Site status unknown. Admiralty F2287; NGA 14504.
* Cuyo Island
Date unknown. Active; focal plane 13 m (42 ft); two white flashes every 10 s. 8 m (27 ft) round hourglass-shaped concrete tower, painted white. A 2015 photo and a second photo (1/4 the way down the page) is available, the lighthouse is seen in silhouette in Ronald Palay's sunset photo, and Google has a satellite view. Located on the pier in Cuyo, on the west side of the island. Site open, tower closed. ARLHS PHI-081; Admiralty F2286; NGA 14508.

Cagayancillo Islands Lighthouses
Note: The Cagayancillo Islands are a group of small islands in the eastern Sulu Sea.
Manucan Islet
Date unknown. Active; focal plane 21 m (69 ft); white flash every 5 s. Approx. 18 m (59 ft) octagonal white concrete tower with gallery. A panoramic photo is available (4/5 the way down the page), but Bing has only a distant satellite view of the islet. Located on Manucan, an islet at the east end of the Cagayancillo Islands. Accessible only by boat. Site open, tower closed. Admiralty F2338; NGA 14512.
Arena Island (Isla Arena)
Date unknown. Inactive. Approx. 18 m (59 ft) octagonal white concrete tower with gallery. A photo and a panoramic photo (1/3 the way down the page) are available, and Google has a satellite view. Located on an atoll about 10 km (6 mi) southwest of Cavili, at the southwestern end of the Cagayancillo Islands. Accessible only by boat. Site open, tower closed.
* Tubbataha Reefs (2)
1980 (station established 1915). Active; two white flashes every 10 s. Approx. 15 m (50 ft) octagonal concrete tower with gallery rising from the center of an octagonal concrete keeper's house. It appears that the lantern has been removed and replaced by a light on a short mast. Stephen McGrath's view from the sea is at right, a 2014 photo and a small closeup photo are available, Paul Stretton has a 2008 photo, Leon Steber has a view from the sea, and the lighthouse also appears on a postage stamp, but Bing has only a fuzzy satellite view of the reef. The Tubbataha Reefs are two atolls in the center of the Sulu Sea. The uninhabited islands, preserved as the Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park, are one of the best known scuba diving locations in the Philippines. The lighthouse is on South Tubbataha. The original light was on a 15 m (49 ft) wood skeletal tower. Site presumably open, tower closed. ARLHS PHI-063; Admiralty F2340; NGA 14528.
Tubbataha Reefs Light
Tubbataha Reefs Light, Sulu Sea, May 2009
Flickr Creative Commons photo by Stephen McGrath

Information available on lost lighthouses:

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Notable faux lighthouses:

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Adjoining pages: North: Mindoro and Romblon Area | East: Southern Mindanao | South: East Malaysia | West: Spratly Islands

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Posted July 24, 2005. Checked and revised October 28, 2016. Lighthouses: 24. Site copyright 2016 Russ Rowlett and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.