LUNA, La Union, Philippines – The restoration of a 400-year-old historical landmark in Barangay Victoria was recently completed.
The Baluarte of Luna, one of the watchtowers built on the shores of La Union during the Spanish era, is considered a national treasure by the National Historical Institute.
Luna Mayor Victor Marvin Marron told The STAR that the Baluarte, half of which had collapsed after it was toppled by big waves and strong winds brought by typhoons, has been completed at a cost of P6 million with materials that look like those used by the Spaniards.
The Baluarte was used by the Spanish soldiers to spot incoming pirates. It was first split in half by Typhoon Lando and slowly destroyed by strong waves during bad weather conditions.
“It was an urgent decision after Typhoon Lando in 2015 because if we will not re-build it, some of its debris might be carried away by the sea and we can never recover the scattered pieces,” Marron said.
There were plans to stabilize the structure by fortifying its foundation, but local government officials realized it had to be declared a historical landmark in order to access funds for its rehabilitation. Thus in 2013, the Luna municipal council passed Resolutions 68-2013 and 69-2013 requesting the NHI and the National Museum to declare the Baluarte a national treasure.
National Museum director Jeremy Barns recently inspected and approved the new structure, and told the mayor that they would help promote the tourist area now built with a circumferential boardwalk around it.
“For our long-term plan we might extend it and build a boardwalk along the beach for retirees, promenaders and exercise buffs, or for the public to come and watch our beautiful sunset,” Marron said, adding that the area has also become popular for wedding pictorials.
The 5.6-meter structure is one of La Union’s most sought after tourist destinations.
The Baluarte of Luna is the most popular of four historical watchtowers in the province. The three others are the Balaoan watchtower at Darigayos Point; San Juan watchtower and Carlatan watchtower in San Fernando City.
The Luna watchtower’s surrounding areas, facing the West Philippine Sea, is also haven for stone-picking, a major livelihood of Luna, where various colored pebbles in different sizes are sorted out to be sold for decorative purposes.