Lighthouse keepers – the silent heroes of lighthouses

17:38 | 01/08/2019
Vung Tau lighthouse was the second lighthouse to be covered in AkzoNobel's protective Dulux coating.Along with the project, a video about the local lighthouse keeper went viral on social media, garnering thousands of reactions and shares. VIR had a conversation with Nguyen Trong Thao, stationmaster of Dai Lanh lighthouse, the main character of this video, and Pamela Phua, general director of AkzoNobel Vietnam.
lighthouse keepers the silent heroes of lighthouses
Vung Tau lighthouse enjoys Dulux protection from the harshest weather conditions in Vietnam

In only three weeks, The Lighthouse Keeper video has reached 58,000 likes, 4,300 shares, and 2,100 comments. How does this make you feel?

Nguyen Trong Thao – It was my first time to appear in a video as the main character and was surprised by all the love and the encouraging comments. This made me feel prouder of what I do and cheered me up to strive harder to deserve these compliments.

Pamela Phua – Those are amazing numbers that truly confirm that our video has touched the audience's heart. It is great to see the video being supported with such enthusiasm. People said “Such a touching film with an inspiring story!” I am happy to have our products inspire them with a meaningful message. I am prouder to say that what we are doing can bring more than just colour into a house – it is protection for homes.

The video shows what a tough job you have, Thao. What makes you stick with it?

Nguyen Trong Thao - Some people say being a lighthouse keeper is an adventurous outdoor job – but it is also very taxing. Maybe it is because we have to work overnight, and twice as hard in storms to guide ships to shore safely.

It is hard, but in my 30 years at this lighthouse, I have never felt discouraged. I was born in a coastal province so I know full well how hard fishermen struggle to make ends meet, in storms and heavy rain, and what a warm feeling it is to see the first sign of “home” after days on the sea. Since I was little, I was taught the importance of a lighthouse to help find their way home and give them a sense of safety.

Vung Tau lighthouse is the second lighthouse recoated by Dulux from AkzoNobel. This is part of AkzoNobel's campaign on preserving Vietnam's lighthouses. Why did AkzoNobel choose lighthouses?

Pamela Phua – Everyone knows that lighthouses are like traffic signs on the sea to serve as a navigational aid and to help fishermen find their way home. Furthermore, they are also signature structures that attract tourists, supporting local tourism and community development. However, these buildings are located in areas with harsh weather conditions which seriously spoils their look and structural integrity over time. Understanding this problem, we want to bring our innovative solutions to protect these historic constructs which have a huge impact on community development.

This year, we chose Vung Tau lighthouse to protect as it is one of the oldest lighthouses of Southeast Asia. It was built by the French in 1862 and was witness to a great deal of Vietnam's history. It is also a landmark of Vung Tau city and is a popular item on tourists' travel plans visiting from near and far. We hope to maintain the beauty of this attractive tourist destination – even under the harshest weather conditions of the coastal area.

As a lighthouse keeper and an expert in paints, what factors put lighthouses under the greatest stress?

Nguyen Trong Thao - Most lighthouses are located on islands near shore, and are getting the worst weather all-year-round, especially during the stormy season with lightning and whirlwinds. I have worked as a keeper of the Dai Lanh lighthouse in the past and could see the damage wrought by the weather every day. It is easy to see just by the moss, mould, and cracks in the walls.

Pamela Phua – From my experience in researching and developing paints products, I see the same issues that Thao mentioned before. Bad weather conditions deteriorate the interior and exterior look of lighthouses in the short term and their structures in the long term if they are not protected properly. In the paints and coatings industry, coastal weather is an obstacle that we have been trying to conquer. I am very proud to say that our premium exterior Dulux Weathershield® has nailed it and is now one of the strongest protectors for lighthouses.

How do you evaluate the condition of lighthouses after they were repainted?

Pamela Phua – Time is the best test for our efforts, but we believe that Vung Tau lighthouse is now under proper protection. From our experience of repainting Dai Lanh lighthouse, we are confident that Dulux Weathershield® is the best solution for these buildings. Among its most impressive features are anti-fading and UV protection thanks to the Colour Lock technology, waterproofing from Rain Guard technology, anti-alkaline from Alkali Guard, anti-mossfrom Smart Release technology, and cooling the interior down by up to 5 degrees Celsius from Keep Cool technology. After a year, the lighthouse still looks as if it was recently repainted. We expect Vung Tau lighthouse to show the same results.

Nguyen Trong Thao – I would like to add some other benefits this repainting project brought to the lighthouse, which I see with my eyes every day. Tourists visiting Dai Lanh lighthouse told me that they love its beauty and clean coat, some visited before 2018 and said they feel better to see such a positive change. It seems that more tourists come and check in this lighthouse, this somehow helps local people. I wish all lighthouses in Vietnam would be protected like that.

Does AkzoNobel have any plans to extend this success?

Pamela Phua – Lighthouse is a long-term campaign. There are many other structures in Vietnam to be protected in the future. After Dai Lanh lighthouse last year, we are extremely honoured and proud of the Vung Tau lighthouse project, which is known as one of the most beautiful and oldest lighthouses in Vietnam. Dulux Weathershield® showed its effectiveness in protecting Dai Lanh and Vung Tau lighthouses and we strongly believe that it would do the same at other projects, helping resist the harshest weather conditions and sustain beauty over time.

By Ha Vy

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