I was shocked when I first saw the condition of the heritage watchtower at the edge of a land overlooking the sea in the municipality of Leyte in Leyte province. Much of its upper part have been overgrown with trees and the roots have started to cover up the surface of the walls both exterior and interior with a few big roots penetrating between blocks.
Leyte was one of the islands badly hit by the wave of muslim slave raiders especially between the middle of the 18th to the middle of the 19th centuries. When the amihan or the northeast monsoon starts, these raiders, aboard their prahus, start the southern voyage from their pillaging in Luzon and Bicol, passing Samar, Biliran, Leyte, Bohol, Cebu, Siquijor and Negros then trace the northern coast of Mindanao till they arrive at the slave markets in sulu.
The location of the said quadrilateral watchtower is strategic. It overlooks a narrow bay and stands guard, alarming the residents of the poblacion (town center), about less than a kilometer away, of an impending raid.
But seeing the condition of the heritage structure is quite disheartening. While it has survived for more than a century, it might not survive a few more years of neglect as slowly, nature is reclaiming it. As of now, huge roots have started to loosen the blocks as these have penetrated deeper. Huge cracks are also showing.
I was told that there used to be three of these lining the coastline. Now, only one is existing and in great danger. How can we save this one? Will town officials be cognizant of its heritage and tourism value to take steps to do something about this vegetal infestation?