Lighthouses of the Philippines: Zamboanga and Sulu

The Philippines include more than 7000 islands stretching over 1750 km (1100 mi) of the western Pacific. The archipelago was a Spanish colony until the Spanish-American War of 1898, which brought the islands under U.S. administration. Japan occupied the islands during World War II (1942-45), and the country became independent shortly thereafter (1946).

Mindanao is the second largest island of the Philippines, occupying the southern end of the archipelago. The island is very irregular in shape; the largest portion is very roughly elliptical extending northeast to southwest and there is also a long curved extension, the Zamboanga Peninsula, on the west. The small islands of the Sulu Archipelago stretch from the end of the Zamboanga Peninsula towards Borneo. This page describes lighthouses of the Zamboanga Peninsula and the Sulu islands.

The lighthouse preservation movement is gaining some momentum in the Philippines. Until recently, all of the historic light stations were in very poor condition. However, the Philippines Coast Guard, which operates aids to navigation in the country, has recently repaired and renovated many of the towers. An "adopt a lighthouse" program has taken hold, and there's hope more extensive restorations will be carried out within the next few years.

Philippine lighthouses are often called parolas. Many Philippine lighthouses are not well known, so better information and photos are needed.

ARLHS numbers are from the ARLHS World List of Lights. Admiralty numbers are from volume F of the Admiralty List of Lights & Fog Signals. U.S. NGA List numbers are from Publication 112.

General Sources
Philippine Lighthouses
8 historic photos posted by Johann Stockinger.
Lighthouses in the Philippines
Wikipedia article, with links to articles on several of the individual lighthouses.
Spanish Lighthouses of the Philippines
This is the Directory's own list of the Spanish light stations, with notes on their current status.
Lighthouses in the Philippines
Photos by various photographers available from Wikimedia.
World of Lighthouses - Philippines
Photos by various photographers available from Lightphotos.net.
Online List of Lights - Philippines
Coming soon: photos by various photographers posted by Alexander Trabas.

San Pablo Light
San Pablo Light, San Pablo, April 2009
Panoramio photo copyright Jereel Hope Bacon; permission requested

Zamboanga Peninsula Region Lighthouses

Zamboanga del Sur Province Lighthouses
Note: Zamboanga del Sur occupies the southeastern coast of the Zamboanga Peninsula facing the Moro Gulf.
* Tukuran
Date unknown. Active; focal about 14 m (46 ft); white flash every 7 s. Approx. 12 m (39 ft) round white steel and fiberglass tower, flared at the top and bottom. A photo is available but the light is not seen in Google's satellite view. Located at the fishing port in Tukuran, at the northern end of Pagadian Bay. Site open, tower closed. Admiralty F2225.2; NGA 15191.7.
Dao-Dao (Dumagok Island)
Date unknown. Active; focal plane unknown; two white flashes every 5 s. Approx. 12 m (39 ft) round white steel and fiberglass tower, flared at the top and bottom. A photo is at right but the light is not seen in Google's satellite view. Located on an island off the west side of Illana Bay about 2.5 km (1.5 mi) south of the Pagadian waterfront. Accessible only by boat. Site status unknown, probably open. Admiralty F2224.7; NGA 15194.
San Pablo
Date unknown. Active; focal plane about 15 m (49 ft); white flash every 5 s. Approx. 12 m (39 ft) round white steel and fiberglass tower, flared at the top and bottom. Jereel Hope Bacon's closeup photo is at the top of this page, another photo is available, and Google has a street view and a satellite view. Located at the base of the pier in San Pablo, on the west side of Illana Bay about 30 km (19 mi) south of Pagadian. Site status unknown. Admiralty F2224.6.
Tabina (Tambatan Point)
Date unknown. Active; focal plane unknown; white flash every 10 s. Approx. 12 m (39 ft) round white steel and fiberglass tower, flared at the top and bottom. Wikipedia has a small photo and Google has a satellite view. Located on a sharp promontory about 8 km (5 mi) southeast of Tabina, at the southwestern entrance to Illana Bay. Site status unknown. Admiralty F2224.5; NGA 15195.
* Margosatubig (2?)
Date unknown (station established 1910). Active; focal plane unknown; two white flashes every 5 s. Approx. 12 m (39 ft) round barbell-shaped white steel and fiberglass tower. A photo is available, and Google has a street view and an indistinct satellite view. NGA describes a pierhead pole light at this port. Located at the base of the main pier at Margosatubig, a town on the east side of Dumanquillas Bay. Site open, tower closed. Admiralty F2224; NGA 15196.

Dao Dao Light, Pagadian, February 2011
Panoramio photo by axlego salvaged by Geoview


Zamboanga Sibugay Province Lighthouses
Note: Zamboanga Sibugay occupies the central south coast of the Zamboanga Peninsula. Separated from Zamboanga del Sur in 2001, it surrounds Sibugay Bay, an embayment in the northwest corner of the Moro Gulf.
Malangas
Date unknown. Active; focal plane unknown; two white flashes every 10 s. Approx. 8 m (26 ft) round white steel and fiberglass tower, flared at the top and bottom. A photo is available but the light is not seen in Google's satellite view. Located on heights east of Malangas, a coal-shipping port on the west side of Dumanguillas Bay. Site status unknown, probably open. Admiralty F2224.2; NGA 15197.
Naga
Date unknown. Active; focal plane unknown; three white flashes every 15 s. Approx. 12 m (39 ft) round white steel and fiberglass tower, flared at the top and bottom. A photo is available, but the light may be too new to appear in Google's satellite view. Located at Naga, a village at the head of Sibuguey Bay. Site status unknown, probably open. Admiralty F2222.5; NGA 15198.

Zamboanga City Lighthouses
Note: Zamboanga is a large city at the extreme southwestern tip of Mindanao; it has a population of nearly 900,000.
Little Santa Cruz Island (2?)
Date unknown (station established 1906). Active; focal plane 16 m (52 ft); three white flashes every 15 s. 16 m (52 ft) round steel and fiberglass tower, flared at the top and bottom. NGA lists a "white framework structure," presumably the original lighthouse. No photo available but Bing has a satellite view. 1-story keeper's house. This is the landfall light for Zamboanga for ships arriving from the west. Located on a small island about 4 km (2.5 mi) off the extreme southwestern tip of Mindanao. Accessible only by boat. Site status unknown. ARLHS PHI-037; Admiralty F2218; NGA 15200.
* Batorampon Point (Labuan)
Date unknown. Active; focal plane unknown; three white flashes every 8 s. Approx. 14 m (46 ft) white concrete post; a stairway spirals around the post. Norwin Detalla has a closeup photo and a street view from the top, and another photo is available, but trees hide the tower in Google's satellite view. Located on a densely forested promontory about 30 km (19 mi) northwest of Zamboanga. Site open, and anyone can climb the stairway to the top of the tower. Admiralty F2210; NGA 15214.

Zamboanga del Norte Province Lighthouse
Note: Zamboanga del Norte includes the northern coast of the Zamboanga Peninsula. The province has a population of about one million, but much of the coastline is rugged and thinly populated.
* Sirawai
Date unknown. Active; focal plane unknown; three white flashes every 15 s. 9.5 m (31 ft) round white steel and fiberglass tower, flared at the top and bottom. A photo is available and Google has a street view (a portion is seen at right) and an indistinct satellite view. Located on the quay at Sirawai, a village about 13 km (8 mi) south of Siocon. Site open, tower closed. Admiralty F2209; NGA 15214.3.
Santa Maria
Date unknown. Active (?); focal plane unknown; two quick white flashes every 2 s. Approx. 12 m (39 ft) round white steel and fiberglass tower, flared at the top and bottom. A photo is available but the light has not been found in Google's satellite view. The PCG web site has this light as "temporarily delisted." Located on a promontory about 10 km (6 mi) northwest of Siocon. Site status unknown. Admiralty F2208; NGA 15214.5.
Coronado Point
Date unknown. Active; focal plane unknown; two white flashes every 10 s. Approx. 10 m (33 ft) round white concrete tower with gallery. No photo available but Google has a satellite view. Located on a forested promontory west of Gutalac and about 60 km (40 mi) northeast of Siocon. Site status unknown (this area is quite remote). Admiralty F2207.8; NGA 15214.8.
Murcielagos
2008. Active; focal plane 11 m (36 ft); white flash every 7 s. 10 m (33 ft) round white steel and fiberglass tower, flared at the top and bottom. No photo available but Bing has a satellite view. Located at the small settlement on Murcielagos, an island about 8 km (5 mi) northwest of La Liberdad. Accessible only by boat. Site open, tower closed. Admiralty F2207.5; NGA 15214.7.

Sirawai Light, Sirawai, February 2016
image by Google Maps, copyright Google, Inc.
Sindangan (Liloy)
Date unknown. Active; focal plane unknown; four white flashes every 15 s. White tower, probably fiberglass. No photo available and the light is not seen in Google's satellite view of the location. Located on a prominent cape about 4 km (2.5 mi) north of Liloy. Site status unknown. Admiralty F2207; NGA 15215.
* Pulauan (Puluan, Dapitan Port)
Date unknown. Active; focal plane 44 m (144 ft); two white flashes every 5 s. 10 m (33 ft) concrete post with gallery and an external stairway winding around the tower. A view from the sea is available, and Google has a distant satellite view. This port is the terminal for ferries crossing the Sulu-Bohol Strait from Dumaguete, Negros. Located above the Pulauan waterfront about 13 km (8 mi) west of downtown Dapitan. Site apparently open, and the tower can probably be climbed for the view. Admiralty F2284; NGA 15048.
* Tagolo (Tag-ulo) Point (3)
1940 (station established 1911). Active; focal plane 33 m (109 ft); white flash every 5 s. Approx. 12 m (39 ft) round white fiberglass tower. Wood keeper's cottage. Nathan Arevalo has a 2017 view from a nearby beach, Eden Recamara has a distant view, and Google has a distant satellite view of the station. The second light, a 7.5 m (25 ft) concrete post with an external stairway, is also standing. The City of Dapitan lists this light as a possible tourist attraction. Located on the point about 8 km (5 mi) northwest of downtown Dapitan, overlooking the Sulu Sea to the northwest and the Bohol Sea to the northeast. Site apparently open, tower closed. ARLHS PHI-098; Admiralty F2282; NGA 15052.
Selinog (Silino) Island
Date unknown. Active; focal plane about 11 m (36 ft); white flash every 5 s. Approx. 10 m (33 ft) round white fiberglass tower, flared at the top and bottom. A photo (third photo on the page) is available, but Google has only a distant satellite view of the island. Selinog is a small island in the Bohol Sea about 30 km (19 mi) north of Dapitan. There is a resort and a nature preserve on the island. Accessible only by boat. Site open, tower closed. Admiralty F2281.8; NGA 15051.8.
Piniahon (Pinihon) Island (Sibuta)
Date unknown. Active; focal plane about 15 m (49 ft); two white flashes every 10 s. Approx. 11 m (36 ft) round white fiberglass tower, flared at the top and bottom. Antonio Soria has a 2016 photoø and Bing has a satellite view. Located on a small island in Murcielagos Bay, an inlet of the Bohol Sea about 20 km (13 mi) east of Dapitan. Accessible only by boat. Site open, tower closed. Admiralty F2281.6; NGA 15050.

Bangsamoro Autonomous Region Lighthouses

Note: The Bangsamoro Autonomous Region has been formed as a result of a peace settlement between the central government of the Philippines and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front. The region includes the provinces of Maguindanao and Lanao del Sur on the mainland of Mindanao and the three provinces (Basilan, Sulu, and Tawi-Tawi) of the Sulu Archipelago.
Lighthouses in the mainland portion of the region are described on the Southern Mindanao page.

Basilan Province Lighthouses
Note: Basilan is an island about 60 km (38 mi) long from east to west and 40 km (25 mi) wide. Under the Bangsamoro peace agreement, its former capital Isabela remained part to the Zamboanga Peninsula Region while the rest of the island became part of Bangsamoro: Lamitan became the new provincial capital. Basilan is separated from Zamboanga City by the narrow (32 km, 20 mi wide) Basilan Strait.
Mataja Island
Date unknown. Active; focal plane 19 m (61 ft); white flash every 5 s. 15 m (49 ft) skeletal tower. No photo available but Bing has a distant satellite view of the station. This light guides ships through the Pilas Channel around the west end of Basilan. Located near the south tip of an island about 10 km (6 mi) off the western end of Basilan. Accessible only by boat. Site status unknown. Admiralty F2206; NGA 15224.
Malamaui (Malamawi) Island (2)
Date unknown. Active; focal plane 11 m (36 ft); red flash every 5 s. 10 m (33 ft) concrete tower. No photo available but Bing's indistinct satellite view of the location may show the lighthouse. Malamaui is a small island off the northern tip of Basilan, about 25 km (15 mi) southwest of Zamboanga. The lighthouse marks the entrance to a narrow passage leading to Isabela, the principal town of Basilan. Located on the northeastern tip of Malamaui. Accessible only by boat. Site status unknown. Admiralty F2216; NGA 15220.
Malamaui (Malamawi) Island (1)
1914. Inactive. 10 m (33 ft) white concrete post with an external stairway winding around the tower. Renato Apilado's photo, taken around 1990, shows that the light had been removed from the tower by that time. Mike Baylon's photo is at right and Bing has an indistinct satellite view. Located about 200 m (1/8 mi) southeast of the current light. Accessible only by boat. Site open, tower probably can be climbed.
Kulibato Point (Kulay Bato, Lamitan)
Date unknown. Active; focal plane 72 m (236 ft); white flash every 5 s. 11 m (36 ft) "metal tower" according to NGA. No photo available, and Bing's indistinct satellite view of the station does not clearly reveal a tower. Located on heights behind the port of Lamitan on the northeast coast of Basilan. Site status unknown. Admiralty F2221; NGA 15222.
Sibago Island
1915. Active; focal plane 215 m (705 ft); white flash every 10 s. 23 m (75 ft) "galvanized metal tower." No photo available, and the light has not been found in Google's satellite view of the island. The 1920 light list refers to this as a "steel frame" tower. Located on a high island about 40 km (25 mi) southeast of Zamboanga, at the southwestern tip of Mindanao. Site status unknown. ARLHS PHI-057; Admiralty F2214; NGA 15216.
Malamawi Island Light
Malamawi Island Light, February 2012
Flickr photo copyright Mike Baylon; used by permission

Bangsamoro Region: Sulu Archipelago Lighthouses

Note: The Sulu Archipelago is a ragged chain of islands extending from the southwestern tip of Mindanao to the northeastern tip of Borneo. The largest islands are Basilan in the north, Jolo in the center of the chain, and Tawi-Tawi near the south end. The islands were historically governed as an independent sultanate. Although the islands were claimed by Spain as part of the Philippines, Spanish rule was sporadic and tenuous. In recent years, the islands were central to a Muslim separatist movement. A peace agreement in 2012 provided for the creation of an autonomous Muslim region called Bangsamoro, which includes the Sulu Archipelago and the provinces of Lanao del Sur and Maguindanao in south central Mindanao.

Sulu Province Lighthouses
Note: Sulu Province includes the central portion of the Sulu Archipelago including the major island of Jolo and surrounding smaller islands. The province has a population of more than 800,000, with about 530,000 on Jolo.
Tatalan Island
Date unknown. Active; focal plane 14 m (46 ft); white flash every 5 s. 10 m (33 ft) white concrete tower, probably with a stairway spiralling around the tower. No photo available but Google's satellite view probably shows the tip of the tower. Tatalan is a small forested island about halfway between Basilan and Jolo. Located on the southern tip of the island, marking a passage through the archipelago. Accessible only by boat. Site status unknown. Admiralty F2204; NGA 15228.
* Jolo Harbor (1)
1879. Inactive since the 1930s at least. Approx. 7.5 m (25 ft) octagonal cylindrical masonry tower, now incorporated into the center of a small mosque, the Masjid Shariful Hashim. A portion of a 2009 photo is at right, a 2011 aerial photo is available, and Google has a satellite view. This is one of the oldest lighthouses in the Philippines. More recent views (starting 1/3 the way down the page) show a ladder projecting from the top of the tower, and apparently the light was displayed for many years from the top of that ladder. The mosque was apparently built in 1999 and expanded in 2010-11. Located at the base of the main wharf at Jolo. Site open, tower closed. Site manager: Masjid Shariful Hashim
Jolo Harbor (3)
2011 (station established 1879). Active; focal plane 18 m (59 ft); flashing white light. 16 m (52 ft) square skeletal tower painted white. No photo available. This tower replaced an earlier skeletal tower; the June 2009 photo of the mosque tower (previous entry) shows that the first skeletal tower had been removed by that time. Dr. Anak Iluh's blog post on the Jolo lighthouses states that the Coast Guard built a new lighthouse in 2011, but no description or photos of that light have been found. Located on or near the base of the main wharf at Jolo. Site open. Admiralty F2196; NGA 15232.
Busbus Point (Siasi)
Date unknown. Active; focal plane 9 m (30 ft); white flash every 5 s. 9 m (30 ft) white concrete quadrupod tower. No photo available but Google has a satellite view. Located on the reef on the east side of the entrance to the harbor of Siasi Island, about 80 km (50 mi) south of Jolo. Accessible only by boat. Site open, tower closed. Admiralty F2192.5; NGA 15236.5.
North Ubian Island
Date unknown. Active (?); focal plane 11 m (36 ft); white flash every 5 s. 10 m (33 ft) round white concrete tower mounted on a square concrete pier. No photo available but Google has a distant satellite view. North Ubian Island is located about 65 km (40 mi) due west of Jolo. Located just off the northeastern tip of the island. Accessible only by boat. Site open, tower closed. Admiralty F2200; NGA 15240.
Jolo Light
1879 Jolo Light, Jolo, June 2009
Flickr photo copyright Pinoy Photographer; used by permission
Pearl Bank
1917. Active (?); focal plane 19.5 m (62 ft); white flash every 5 s. 17 m (57 ft) "red round steel tower." No photo available but Bing's satellite view probably shows the lighthouse. The Coast Guard listed this lighthouse as deactivated around 2012, and the Admiralty reported the light to be "temporarily extinguished" in 2008. We need information on the status of this historic light station. Located on a low island on the bank, a well-known navigational hazard about 170 km (110 mi) southwest of Jolo in the Sulu Archipelago. Site status unknown. ARLHS PHI-040; Admiralty F2194; NGA 15244.

Tawi-Tawi Province Lighthouse
* Port Bongao
Date unknown. Active; focal plane about 12 m (39 ft); white flash every 5 s. 10 m (33 ft) white concrete towerwith gallery, buttressed at the bottom. A photo is available and Google has a distant satellite view. Located at the end of the pier at Bongao, the capital of Tawi-Tawi Province and the southernmost town of the Philippines. Accessible by walking the pier. Site open, tower closed. Admiralty F2190; NGA 15248.
Saluag Island (1)
Date unknown. Inactive. 26 m (85 ft) square skeletal tower with lantern and central cylinder. A photo is at right, Voughx Pajiji has a closeup photo of both lighthouses, and Google has a satellite view of the station. The lighthouse must be from the early years of the American administration. It was active in the 1970s and probably for many years after that. Located on an islet off the south end of Sibutu Island. Accessible only by boat. Site status unknown. ex-Admiralty F2186.
Saluag Island (2)
Date unknown. Active; focal plane 29 m (95 ft); white flash every 5 s. Approx. 15 m (49 ft) round cylindrical steel or concrete tower, painted white. A photo is at right and Voughx Pajiji has a closeup photo of both lighthouses. This is the southernmost lighthouse of the Philippines. Located adjacent to the historic lighthouse. Accessible only by boat. Site status unknown. ARLHS PHI-114; Admiralty F2189; NGA 15246.
Tandotao Point (Cagayan Sulu, Mapun)
Date unknown. Active; focal plane 118 m (387 ft); white flash every 5 s. 10 m (33 ft) white concrete tower. No photo available, but Google has a distant satellite view. Mapun (formerly called Cagayan Sulu) is an isolated island in the southwestern Sulu Sea. Although it is remote from the Sulu Archipelago, it is governed as a municipality within Tawi-Tawi Province. The population is about 25,000. Located on heights at the southeastern tip of the island. Site status unknown. Admiralty F2142; NGA 15544.

Salaug Island Lights, Tawi-Tawi
photo copyright Harly Limlingan Marcuap; permission requested

Information available on lost lighthouses:

Notable faux lighthouses:

Adjoining pages: Northeast: Northern Mindanao | East: Southern Mindanao | Southwest: East Malaysia | West: Palawan

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Posted July 24, 2005. Checked and revised October 12, 2018. Lighthouses: 33. Site copyright 2018 Russ Rowlett and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.