A painstaking restoration of the original watchtower, the Campanario de Antigua in Samboan formed part of a series of fortifications in southern Cebu aimed at providing coastal settlements early warning of pirate raids during the Spanish colonial era.
The watchtower in Samboan is located over 200 feet above sea level.
When it was constructed in 1878 under the supervision of then parish priest Toribio Gerzon, coral stone slabs were used for its foundation and walls and terracotta tiles for the roof.
It was built on a plateau that was the nucleus of the Spanish settlement in Samboan beginning in the 17th century.
Now the location of the town center, the flat hilltop also hosts the Municipal Hall and other local government buildings, St. Michael Archangel Church and belltower, Samboan Museum, and a small picturesque plaza.
A series of stone steps hand-carved on the side of the hill connects the coastal area with the plateau.
Called the Escala de Jacob or Jacob’s Ladder, the staircase ends at the foot of the watchtower. Before the coastal road that snakes around the island of Cebu was built, the steps reached as far down as the shore.
Samboan’s Campanario de Antigua faces the Tañon Strait. A 1970 photo of the watchtower owned by the Filipinas Heritage Library showed the structure to be in ruins, without a roof and with only one side of the square base and the two pillars remaining.
The three-storey Samboan watchtower has been restored to its former glory, with stone walls, sturdier flooring and steps leading to the two higher levels, and wooden railings.
Visitors may go up to the watchtower’s third level for a breathtaking vista of the town center, sea, and neighboring islands.