MAMBAJAO, CAMIGUIN, Philippines — Three tourist spots in this island-province has gained recognition following their declaration as National Heritage Sites.
Declared as heritage sites were the Moro Watch Tower in Guinsiliban town, Bonbon Church Ruins and Sunken Cemetery in Catarman town.
“We want to these places preserved so that our children, our grandchildren, your children’s children will know and will be aware of where and how and what we came from. It’s the history of Camiguin,” said Gov. Maria Luisa Romualdo.
The declaration was done during the 51st celebration of Camiguin’s founding anniversary on Jan. 7.
To further aid in promoting the preservation of the sites, Romualdo urged teachers to include in their lessons the history of the newly-declared treasures of the country.
The Guinsiliban Moro Watch Tower, located at Barangay North Poblacion, Guinsiliban, is believed to have once been part of a larger structure very similar to a typical fortress, based on the description of locals who have seen the old kota (fort) before the construction of the present day Gabaldon Building or the Guinsiliban Central School.
Based on the Camiguin Tourism Code, the Moros or group of pirate Muslims used to rob and take away women and children. To protect themselves from the invaders, the locals built the tower to detect incoming enemies. They called it Kuta Silipanan or Siliban (fort for peeking) and is now named the Moro Watch Tower.
On the other hand, the Bonbon Church Ruins at Barangay Bonbon, Catarman built in 1806 is the bigger structure adjacent to the tower. However, when a volcanic eruption took place on May 1, 1871, everything was destroyed, including the Bonbon church, convent and the campanario.
The church is said to be a relic of Christianity introduced by the Spaniards and its adobe walls served as a testament of early converts’ strong faith.
As for the Sunken Cemetery, historians said the cemetery was just part of a community guarded by a fortress where the original church dedicated to San Roque and a convent was built.
The volcanic eruption that destroyed Bonbon Church is the very same tragic event that put the cemetery underwater.
The large white cross built in 1982 that still stands today as mute testament of its existence. It serves as a scenic spot to memorialize the location of the old cemetery where the ancestors of the Camiguingnons were buried.
In order to preserve the island’s history, Romualdo urged Camiguingnons to regulate the carrying capacity of the people who will visit the historic sites. For an instance, the church ruins should not be used for other purpose but purely visitation only.
As for the Moro Watch Tower, the governor cited the effort of the local government to allocate budget for the construction of the passage going inside the historic site since tourists and locals currently use the school facility to enter the tower.
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