ILOCOS SUR – Local officials of Ilocos Sur are planning the possible rehabilitation and opening to the public of a century-old watchtower in the town of Narvacan.
The members of the Committee on Living Treasures and Industrial Development of the provincial board on Monday visited the site of the watchtower. They also talked to the Canosa family who owns the lot where the watchtower is located.
At present, the watchtower cannot be easily accessed by the public since the family put a fence in the area.
In previous years, the local government of Narvacan filed a case questioning the claim of the family to the lot.
The decision, however, was in favor of the Canosa family.
"Ang gusto natin makita ang sitwasyon ng watchtower para malaman kung ano ang kailangan natin gawin para ma-preserve for the next generation to appreciate a part of their history," Ilocos Sur board member Virginia Cordero-Pe Benito said.
"We would enter into a memorandum of agreement sa pamilya for them to allow the rehabilitation and at the same time open the area or develop an easy access to the watchtower for the public, the tourists because this will help our tourism industry as well the promotion of Ilokano culture and history," Ilocos Sur board member Efren Rafanan added.
The Canosa family agreed to enter into a memorandum of agreement with the provincial government on the rehabilitation of the watchtower as well as its development as a tourist spot.
They explained that they put a fence to protect the watchtower from those who are removing bricks from the structure.
"Wala naman problema sa amin dahil kung matutuloy ang proyekto malaki din naman ang maitutulong sa amin, sa kabuhayan namin dahil kami naman ang pinakamalapit mismo sa lugar," Michael Canosa said.
One of the conditions set by the Canosa family is to allow one family member to be the caretaker of the watchtower.
The municipal engineer also suggested developing and clearing the area surrounding the site where the watchtower is located to ensure its structural integrity.
“Dapat maihinto ang mga paghuhukay sa palibot nito para kung sakali man na lumindol hindi maapektuhan ang watchtower. Matibay pa naman siya pero kailangan siguro na mag-inject ng epoxy,” Narvacan, Ilocos Sur engineer Elueterio Ines said.
The Narvacan watchtower is one of the three surviving watchtowers built by the Spaniards that can be found in Ilocos Sur. The other two can be found in the towns of San Esteban and Santiago.
According to local historians, the watchtower was built to monitor the possible entry of pirates coming from the South China Sea.
Ilocos Sur has been pushing for the three watchtowers to be declared as National Cultural Treasures and Important Cultural Properties by the National Commission for Culture and the Arts.