QUEZON, Philippines – A lighthouse constructed during the COVID-19 pandemic for local fisherfolk and crew of vessels passing through Tayabas Bay is now a giant Christmas beacon for Quezon province.
Every night, residents and visitors flock to the coast of General Luna town, almost 104 kilometers from Lucena, the capital of Quezon province, to see the 42-foot “tree,” as police and civilian personnel stand by to ensure safety.
The blaze of thousands of LED lights wrapped like a spiral staircase can be seen far off at sea and kilometers inland near the poblacion of General Luna town, Quezon province.
At the tip are angels and a lantern. Nearer the ground are silhouettes of playful reindeers.
The 4th-class coastal municipality started construction on the tower in the last quarter of 2019 and completed the project in 2020 even as the country went into a long COVID-19 lockdown.
Mayor Matt Florido said the lighthouse was built to guide fisherfolk and others at sea.
Instead of building an expensive lantern or tree for the holidays, Florido said the local government decided to save money by repurposing the tower with a concept by engineer Ruel Lardizabal.
“Hindi kami umarkila ng tao o gumastos ng milyones para lamang gumawa ng magarbong lantern dahil wala naman kaming ganoong resources kumpara sa ibang bayan o siyudad,” Florido told Rappler. (As a fourth class municipality, we cannot afford to hire people or spend millions for a flashy lantern as we don’t have millions of pesos to spare unlike other towns and cities.)
While the town shouldered the purchase of the LED lights, the mayor said “more than half of the labor cost was pro bono.”
The move has paid off, bringing tourists from other Quezon towns and boosting the local economy.
Netizens have raved about the unique “tree,” considered as the tallest in the province.
“We never expected this centerpiece to become a hit. But it is the fruit of my constituents’ love and compassion. That is why General Luna is called a town with a heart,” Florido said. – Rappler.com