Upon arrival, I was enticed to take some photos of the airport; it was simple but very beautiful. Most of the passengers left the terminal and there were only four of us left in the vicinity as we do not have ay means of transportation to go to our lodging house until we were assisted by Emmanuel, a SEAir personnel, he used his vehicle and brought us to Ivatan Lodge (0928.2451337). We were very surprised that Emmanuel did not charge us a single centavo for bringing us to the lodging house. We were very thankful and began to like the place even more. There’s this common impression that people in Batanes are truly very warm and honest people – I am happy to say that this is not an impression at all but rather a fact. We then checked in and we were billeted in a very simple room.
When we were about to explore the place, it was already raining so we opted to wait for the rain to stop. The lodging house personnel offered her umbrella and so we went to the nearby store to buy umbrellas amounting to Php100. We then walk going to the lighthouse. It took almost 30 minutes of non-stop walk. Upon seeing the place and spectacular view of the ocean, it was worth all the effort. The beauty of the place called for a photo op and it was even nice to see how the cow appeared to be all too willing to pose for photos. From there, we went to SDCBI Canteen and Store Department for lunch.
Transportation in Batanes is really scarce so we had to ask around where we could rent for any type of vehicle to help us in exploring the area. We were advised to go to the tricycle parking area to arrange for a special trip. We rented two tricycles and our 1st stop was the chapel and Fundacion Pacita. The latter has high-end accommodations but we thought it is impractical as it is very isolated although the view is indeed magnificent.
As we proceeded to the beach, the huge boulders were just auspicious. The beach offers a unique experience where one can climb or walk over the huge rocks and have a better appreciation of the scenery’s splendor.
We also went to see the famous Honesty Store where we saw some tourists who bought items, paid the amount due, and got the change for themselves without any assistance from the store owner.
During the entire tour, we stopped at practically seven (7) beautiful churches.
In the afternoon, my other companions transferred to another government-managed resort and I opted to stay in the Ivatan Lodge. I rested for a while since we agreed to have dinner at 6pm at Pension Ivatan Restaurant. Before 6pm, I decided to just take a walk going to the restaurant, which is just near the airport. While walking, a Starex van stopped and the driver offered me a ride going to the restaurant for free!
At the restaurant, we ordered the local delicacies but unfortunately, the famous coconut crab was not available at that time. It rained when we were about to finish our dinner so we had no choice but be drenched in the rain on our way back to the lodge. I stopped for a while in a clothing store that sells products from Manila. I had the chance to talk to the owners who allowed me to stay while it was raining. When I finally reached the lodge, I arranged for the tricycle driver to pick me up at 4am the next day. It was really dark that night because of the power interruption so I had to contend with my flashlight as I went to sleep.
Early morning of my second day in Batanes, there was no tricycle to pick me up so I went to the tricycle waiting station. Carrying all my belongings, I patiently waited for the only tricycle driver in the area to show up but only to be informed later on that he cannot bring me to Batanes resort since he had to pick up another person and that he was already late for the said appointment. Frustrated at the turn out of my transportation arrangement on a drizzling day, I had no choice but to walk for 20 minutes with an umbrella on one hand and my bags behind my back going to the resort.
When I arrived at the resort, I had breakfast with my companions who were already waiting for me. After that, it was only then that the rain stopped and so we left for the Sabtang tour by riding a van with our tour guide Mario (0907.3010012). Before we boarded the boat called faluwa, we were asked to put our life vest on. The waves were tolerable for first timers and I got fascinated with their wooden boat where we rode in for 30 minutes. Then, we were fetched by another guide with his vehicle.
We registered at their tourism office for PhP100 per person before going to the island where we visited a lot of traditional villages. I was literally awed with the cove surrounded by the green mountains and white sand. The seemingly far distance from the road did not stop me from walking towards the cove just to take photos. It was a very hot day that when I finally came back to the vehicle, I was catching my breath as if it was my last.
In another village, I wanted to take a photo of the kid by the window but whenever I aimed my camera at her, she hid. We even tried to bribe her with food but she was clever and did not take it for she knew that I would ask her to smile in front of the camera in exchange.
We then went to the next village to visit the weavers of the vakul (native hat). I bought one for Php450. The funny thing was when I was about to enter the house, the guide told me that it was the window. It was really big that I thought it was the door. There, we had coconut water for Php15 since at that time we were so thirsty and it was the only alternative drink that we could find. While traveling on the road, we asked the driver about the local palm trees and out of curiosity, we stopped to pick up the seeds to have a taste – they were like prunes! I instantly thought that it would be another good product of the island if the local entrepreneurs could properly market it.
Our last stop was the Nakabuang Beach and we had a sumptuous lunch served with veggies, meat, and lobsters. We only paid Php250 per person. The beach has fine white sand and scenic surroundings. We finished early so we opted to proceed to the port and wait for the boat to depart. I bought an extra shirt in the nearby store while waiting and took some more photos of the nearby lighthouse. The boat did not leave immediately as it was low tide. Upon boarding, everyone hurriedly got on the boat and I was left with a sit in the area with no roof while facing the other passengers. The heat was unbearable and my skin became darker due to the sun exposure.
When we arrived at Basco, we had a tour of the island near the Marlboro Country. It was a perfect place to unwind and to commune with nature. From the place, one can view the sea and the highest mountain in Basco. At night, we had our dinner at Hiro’s Café where we finally had a taste of the coconut crab – delectable! We even bought some more souvenirs at Jawsen Handicrafts afterwards. I also bought the shirt with the design, “Blow Ur Horn,” which by the way the word ‘YOUR’ is reduced to just two syllables ‘UR’ similar to the one we used for text messaging. They claim that even before the advent of short message service (sms) language in the country, they were already using ‘UR’ in the island.
Our last day in Batanes was spent on buying more souvenirs and products. I even went to see our guide, Mario for my eight Arius seedlings, which I asked him to buy for me. It actually became a gift since he did not charge me a single centavo for them. I also brought home some native garlic worth Php100 and a paper weight made out of painted rocks. I also bade farewell to the staff of Ivatan Lodge.
As we waited for the resort service vehicle to start (which was having engine problem at that time), we cannot stop ourselves from buying souvenirs. It was almost an hour before our required check-in time and yet we were still along the main street. Our driver left us and immediately looked for another vehicle that we can use. I felt my panic starting to escalate as there was no transportation within sight and more so, we have no way of carrying all our bags for a walk going to the airport. Luckily, my friend approached a policeman and he graciously offered to bring us to the airport. We arrived at the airport on board a police car. We were very thankful to him as it is very seldom to meet a police officer as kind and helpful as him in Manila. We arrived just in time at the check-in counter and I paid Php65 for the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) permits for my seedlings. While on board the plane, we just waited in peace for it to take its flight.
The only downside I can mention about the trip was SEAir’s erratic flight schedule – our return flight to Manila was rescheduled thrice! But overall, I had an enjoyable trip because of the warmth shown to us by the people in Batanes and of course, the breath-taking sceneries in the island.
One thing is for sure – I will definitely go back to Batanes…
Visited last: May 26, 2010