The Punta Cruz Watchtower is the primary symbol of the town of Maribojoc, Bohol and is found on both the seal and flag of the town. Built by the Augustinian Recollects in 1796, the watchtower served as a lookout against marauding pirates and Moros from Mindanao and was dedicated to St. Vincent Ferrer.
Located as it is on Bohol’s prominent western point, which also serves as the westernmost point of Maribojoc, the watchtower provides an excellent view of the surrounding waters and of nearby Cebu and Siquijor. The site stands in the barangay of the same name (Punta Cruz, which means Cross Point), and I presume that the point is also named Punta Cruz. The name obviously refers to the large wooden cross that stands behind the watchtower (and is also seen in the town’s seal and flag). According to local legend, whenever pirates or Moros try to attack the town, a bright light appears from the cross confounding the invaders and keeping the town safe.
In honor of its historical and cultural significance, the National Historical Commission declared the watchtower a National Historical Landmark in 2009. In addition, the National Museum declared six of Bohol’s watchtowers, including Punta Cruz’, as a National Cultural Treasure in 2011. Furthermore, the watchtower is included in the list of heritage structures titled Spanish Colonial Fortifications of the Philippines, which was added to the Tentative List of UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites in 2006.
The watchtower consists of 2 levels: a triangular-shaped 1st level, and a smaller hexagonal-shaped 2nd level. Several of Bohol’s other watchtowers have a similar triangular architecture, but the Punta Cruz Watchtower is the best preserved. Unfortunately, last year’s M7.2 earthquake damaged the tower, collapsing the 2nd level and damaging the facade, including the Spanish inscription sculpted above the main entrance to the tower. The earthquake also raised the coastline around Maribojoc such that the tower now stands about 50 meters from the shore instead of next to it (as shown in the satellite imagery in Google Maps). Restoration works are ongoing, but the same can’t be said of the town’s church which was completely destroyed.
If you want to see more of the watchtower (post-earthquake), then the immersive 360° panorama photos of the site at Philippine Heritage in 360 project are definitely a must-see.