SPANISH ERA WATCHTOWER.The municipality of Dauin in Negros Oriental and the Commission on Church Cultural Heritage of the Diocese of Dumaguete are partnering for the protection and preservation of this centuries-old watchtower, which the town has declared a heritage site. Situated in Dauin town proper, the stone structure appears to be still mostly intact but needs to be carefully cleared of vegetation and debris
The local government of Dauin, Negros Oriental and the Diocese of Dumaguete, through its Commission on Church Cultural Heritage and the St. Nicholas de Tolentino Parish, are partnering to preserve a centuries-old Spanish watchtower in that town.
In an interview on Friday, Msgr. Julius Perpetuo S. Heruela, St. Nicholas de Tolentino Parish priest and head of the Diocesan Commission on Church Cultural Heritage, said it would be a big challenge to preserve the stone tower but for now, the initial plan is to protect it from further degradation while searching for proper conservation measures.
The tower, which sits on a piece of property owned by the diocese across the Catholic church in the town “poblacion”, is engulfed in thick vegetation with chunks of stone and debris continuously falling off the structure, although it appears to still be mostly intact.
The edifice, a round enclosure with about eight “crenellations” jutting above its wall, is believed to be part of a network of watchtowers across the island and even in other parts of the country to alert the people against marauders or “Moros” and pirates approaching the coastlines during the Spanish era, historical accounts say.
Heruela said there were about four of these towers in Dauin alone but they are now either in ruins or have completely disappeared.
One of them, which only has a wall remaining from the original structure, is standing “divided” between two dive resorts in that town.
“It’s going to be really hard work for us to do research on these heritage structures that are of historical value and we hope that we will be getting support from both government and the private sector in the near future,” he said.
Dauin Councilor Michael Joseph Yap Araula, meanwhile, has reassured that the municipal government would collaborate with the Catholic church in taking the first steps toward the preservation and conservation of the watchtower and other heritage sites in the town.
Araula, who chairs the Committee on Tourism, Trade, and Industry, said the town council had previously issued a resolution to this effect.
“I gave a privilege speech about five years ago to save this structure because this is a very significant cultural remains in this town,” he said in an interview during an on-site visit to the tower on Wednesday.
By the time the Spanish era St. Nicholas de Tolentino Church was made a heritage site by the National Heritage Commission of the Philippines (NHCP) last year, the town council also passed a resolution for the watchtower’s preservation, Araula said.
Resolution 19-087-B, which he authored, was passed on Aug. 13, 2019, declaring Pob. District II Watch Tower as a cultural and heritage site and endorsing it to the NHCP.
For starters, the municipal government of Dauin and the Catholic church there will embark soon on clearing the immediate vicinity of the watch tower of vegetation, debris, and other trash and putting up a perimeter fence.
“It is delicate work because we cannot just pull out the vines and trees and other vegetation because the structure might crumble and so we might be needing professional help in the future,” Heruela said.
He noted that they would be lighting up the tower before December to make it an added attraction to visitors and residents of Dauin.
Both the priest and the councilor expressed hope that this would be the start of a series of activities to preserve the watchtower while searching for the others, whether intact or in ruins, in nearby areas