Sunday, October 1, 2017

Sunday, October 01, 2017




More than having relaxing views of Mount Arayat, Magalang has a couple of imposing remnants of its colonial past. Two of 10 heliograph towers or solar telegraphs still stand in the town where they were once used as an important tool of communication by the Spaniards. The other ones were erected in Mabalacat in Pampanga and Concepcion in Tarlac.

Declared as Important Cultural Properties

The structures can be found in Brgy. Sta. Cruz and Brgy. San Isidro with the former being in a more well-preserved condition. The latter is located at the property of the Caryana Monastery. In 2016, the National Historical Commission of the Philippines (NHCP) declared both structures as Important Cultural Properties (ICP) along with the municipal hall and San Bartolome Parish Church.

Seeing The Tower Up Close

During my overnight stay at the newly-opened Nauvoo Farm Resort, I had the chance to see the tower in Brgy. Sta. Cruz. It's approximately 65 feet in height and is just a stroll away from a major thoroughfare like a typical street arch. As a matter of fact, the street where it stands now was constructed around it like it's an island on a mini-rotonda.

Courtesy of Magalang Tourism Arts & Culture Office
I was on my way to Brgy. Ayala where my booked resort is located, but I insisted that my tricycle driver make a necessary stopover in the area from the town's Plaza de la Libertad. The young driver seemed oblivious of the attraction that I mentioned to him until one of the older drivers approached him and mentioned about the "torre sa bukana ng kalsada" or the tower at the street opening in English.

Torre Heliografico Explained

A succedent to the heliotrope, the heliograph is an optical communication device. It's mounted on a tower and designed to send wireless messages by means of flashes of sunlight. The flashes are signals produced by momentarily pivoting a mirror. The resulting signal can travel long distances and needs to be transmitted from a high spot to another distant station because of the earth's curvature.

Also known as Torre Heliografico, the two 20-meter high military communication towers were constructed by Spanish soldiers in the late 19th century, but the one in Brgy. Sta. Cruz has a chance to be declared as a National Cultural Treasure (NCT) because of its well-preserved state according to Magalang Tourism Officer, Ryan Miranda.

Located in Brgy. Sta. Cruz
According to Joel Pabustan Mallari of Katatagan Inc., the communication stations are unique to each other. Made of fine red bricks and stones of pumiceous rocks and volcanic tuff, they are an attraction in themselves after being exposed to the elements, including minor quakes, for more than a century.

There were other similar towers that the locals recall to have existed in the town, but they were believed to be mere smoke outlets or for other random purposes which meant that they were not given the right attention enough to be preserved.

Special thanks to Ryan Miranda of Magalang Tourism Office


How To Get To The Tower In Brgy. Sta. Cruz From Metro Manila:

• Board a Dagupan-bound Five Star Bus in Cubao, Quezon City (EDSA) for Php120+. Get off at Marquee Mall which is roughly an hour's ride.
• At Marquee Mall, board a Magalang-bound jeepney for Php20 and get off at the corner across Jollibee at the town proper where the tricycle terminal is next to the Plaza de la Libertad.
• Board a tricycle for Brgy. Sta. Cruz where the tower is (5-minute ride).

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