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Lighthouse Vandalized During Film Shoot

Malabrigo Point Lighthouse Suffered Major Damage

Malabrigo Point LighthouseIn what was a shocking story of disregard for an historic structure, the Malabrigo Point Lighthouse in the Philippines was the scene of an unauthorized film shoot by an independent company that left in its wake structural damage to the site. It’s not enough that the lighthouse and buildings had previously been broken into by people ripping out the antique brass doorknobs and hardware. And previously littered the place, kicked out its century-old metal grills, tore out or chopped down its wooden doors. No, this was much more and so very wrong on so many levels.

The lighthouse was designated a National Historic Landmark three years ago, and was part of the Philippine Adopt a Lighthouse Program. And three weeks before the designation, an independent filmmaker decided it would be a great spot for his film. The group that has this lighthouse, the Malabrigo Lighthouse Foundation, did not have any custodians or personnel watching over the grounds, although they are open to the public. The lighthouse and buildings, however, are supposed to be off limits, but the doors are unlocked.

Film Shooting Drew Crowds

According to the story at the Philippine Inquirer, the Coast Guard was not asked permission to use the building by this independent film company. Nor did they contact the Foundation. There has also been no education of the public by the National Historic Institute, who place signs at their historic sites. But the general public does not know what the signs mean, the story says.

Nor, apparently, did the film crew, who should have known better, as they caused a lot of the damage to what was left of the original wood floors.

Film equipment dragged across the 100-year-old hardwood floors have left permanent deep gouges. Whatever was left of doors and windows original to the lighthouse have been torn open. Props had been randomly hammered into the 19th-century walls of limestone or hardwood.

Door at Malabrigo LighthouseAnd when word got out around the village that their was a film crew, hordes of people from the surroounding area descended on the site to see what turned out to be mostly unknown actors. Driving up the dirt roads in packed vehicles, they forced their way into the lighthouse to get a better view of the shoot. Adults and their children trampled the grounds, literally climbing the rafters and going up into the lighthouse tower for better views. There were enough people that the building was actually at risk of the floor or the roof caving in under their combined weight. And more vandalism, too. Parts of the building were broken off, and the wooden doors and limestone walls were defaced with graffiti.

Total Disrespect For Historical Sites

Although this happened a few years ago, it’s still relevant today. Maybe even more so as historic building preservation is seemingly taking a back seat to other priorities in these difficult economic times. Why is there no respect for these buildings that were built so well and serve their purpose so honorably for so many years? This lighthouse was built in 1894, and is still active today. And although this lighthouse has been adopted, there has been no sign of any improvements. The doors are still unlocked, and the damage continues.

According to Gene Rowlett’s excellent site, Malabrigo Point is actually one of the better preserved lighthouses.Some of the lights listed as being active are described as ruins. Incomprehensible. And although the Coast Guard has become a little more aware and has made some effort to repair the long-standing damage, much much more needs to be done. The National Historic Institute clearly needs to establish some guidelines on repair and protection in their Adopt a Lighthouse program. This clearly could not have happened if there had been a caretaker on site or nearby.

And for those of us in the United States, right now we’ve got a bill sitting in a Senate Committee to provide grant money for lighthouse preservation. But it will go nowhere unless we write to the senators contemplating this bill. The list of senators on the Committee looking at Senate Bill s715 has been updated, with links to their pages for contact information, so please voice your support to them.

Photo Credit: Malabrigo Lighthouse Photos on Flickr originally uploaded by Jeck Simbulan. All rights reserved.

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