One of the highlights of my visit to Calatagan,Batangas was a hike up the Cape Santiago Lighthouse which is the oldest working lighthouse in the country. Built in 1890 by the Spanish government, a fact sheet describes the lighthouse as standing ” on an elevated cliff which guides the way between Verde Island Passage, San Bernardino Strait and the Manila Bay. It is also one of the signals of streamers passing to and fro, being in telegraphic communication with Manila Bay via Batangas, Calamba in Laguna de Bay, Cavite and Manila.”
Because the weather was very hot, I never thought I could climb the 80 or so steps to reach the top of the lighthouse which could be negotiated via a spiral staircase. Good thing that my son was enthusiastic enough to lead me the way.
Those who are patient enough to make the climb will be rewarded with this splendid view of the beach and the vast South China Sea framed by the blue skies. It almost looks like a painting, doesn’t it? Fronting the sea (but not shown in this picture) are the grand beachfront homes of the rich and famous. Among these are the Cojuangcos, the Madrigals, the Ortigases and the Zobels whose family owns majority of the Calatagan land until they distributed it via land reform.
Picture shows the Santo Domingo De Silos Church in Calatagan. Everything in this town it seems has a strong Spanish influence.
Calatagan, which means ” a plain or flat portion of land lying between mountains or hills” is the site of the famous historical and archeological “Calatagan Excavations.” These consisted of antique pottery and other artifacts which showed Filipino life before the coming of the Spaniards in 1890. (from municipal factsheet)
Presently, Calatagan comprises a number of resorts. Driving into town, you can see the vast hacienda of the late Don Enrique Zobel and the stately vacation homes of the rich.