We went to Batanes last week for a much-needed vacation. It was also some sort of a pre celebration as we are turning one this November. Yiheee.
However, Batanes wasn't exactly on top of our mind when we were thinking of vacation. Why? Two things. First, the weather. September is one helluva not only rainy but also a typhoon-y month. I'm a rain person but it kinda dampens other people's high spirit and you don't wanna surround yourself with people in those state. Also, chances are your flight will get cancelled. And that happened to us. Twice.
Second, Batanes is expensive. Prolly one of the most expensive vacay destination in the country. In fact, it's much cheaper to go abroad (HK, SG etc.) than go to Batanes. Only two airlines fly to Batanes, SEAIR and SkyPasada, so fare is steep. Accommodation and food are also steep though I must say now that our Batanes vacay was worth every single cent.
What made us go to Batanes? Discounted vouchers! We bought our vouchers in CashCashPinoy, an online site that offers deals on products and services with great discount. And no this is not a paid ad. Lol. But if you want to know more about it and if you find a deal that interest you, do register by clicking this link. Thanks! Again, not an ad.
So after being cancelled twice, our trip finally pushed through. We were wary (I was nervous) that it'll be postponed again because typhoon Pedring just entered the country. Fortunately, it wasn't raining hard and not much wind when we left. We experienced very little turbulence up in the air. And when we landed in Basco, the weather was awesome like a possum.
This'll be a series of posts since we stayed there for six days and five nights. Let us start.
First stop was in Chawa View Deck where we had a great view and feel of the refreshing breeze of the West Philippine Sea and the rest of hilly Batan Island. There is a stair down the cliff so tourists can have a closer view of the waves hitting the rocky shore.
Second stop was in San Carlo Borromeo Church in Mahatao. It may look like just any other church on the outside but inside you can see that it was wonderfully preserved, with reeds lining portions of its ceiling. According to our tour guide, it is being maintained by the people of Mahatao thru bayanihan. The church was built in 1873 and is now declared a National Cultural Heritage Treasure.
Next to Mahatao is Ivana, the smallest of the six municipalities of Batanes. Ivana hosts the famous House of Dakay, the oldest surviving stone house in Batanes. Two things come to our mind when we hear Batanes: typhoons and stone houses. Early Ivatans are said to make houses made of stone because their land is frequently battered by typhoons, strong winds and waves. We know now that the thing about Batanes being hit by typhoon a tad to frequent than any other parts of the country is not true so maybe the stone houses are really for the winds and waves.
|The 127-year-old House of Dakay is a UNESCO heritage site.|
When Batan island was hit by an earthquake in the late 1910s, House of Dakay was one the very few houses that remained standing unscathed. However, the walls of the house are now slowly eroding they forced to patch portions of it with cement.
Just as famous as the house is its owner, the octogenarian Lola Ida. Lola was sleeping when we arrived so we took pictures of her house as silently as we can. She woke up and invited us to get in. It was quite hot outside as it was around noon when we arrived but it was surprisingly cool inside. The air was freely flowing in the windows and doors. The inside was kinda messy because Lola was not able to clean the house for days because of joint pains. If you plan to visit Lola and her house, please please bring some medicines for her as she lives on her own and doesn't have livelihood. Food and some money are just nice as well.
|Lola Ida *photo by Wi Cardel*|
If Mahatao has the 138-year-old San Carlo Borromeo church, Ivana is proud of its 227-year-old church. Ivana Church started out as a small chapel in 1787 but had undergone quite a few makeovers since then. In, 2001 it was renovated after being damaged in an earthquake that occurred a year earlier. Undamaged however are the floor tiles laid during the Spanish period. You can still see these tiles on the church.
It is also in Ivana where you will find the famous Honesty Store, which is now named Honesty Coffee Shop. If you ask me, its former name was more appropriate as it doesn't exactly have a coffee shop feel to it. Anyhoo, the concept is still amazing. We ate our packed lunch here and I bought a bottle of garlic bits.
After lunch, we headed straight to DOST-PAGASA Basco Station. This is my favorite stop that day, or at least the inner geek in me says. Too bad, there weren't PAGASA people around so no tour inside the station office and no explanation and demonstration on their thingamobobs.
But we climbed the tower! The view was amazing! The feeling up there was amazing. My knees were amazingly wobbly too! Lols.
|Tapang tapangan. Lols|
Not far from Basco PAGASA station is Fundacion Pacita. Fundacion Pacita is the most expensive place to stay in Batanes. According to our tour guide, who is an HRM student in Basco College, Fundacion is a five star hotel. Now, I'm not familiar rates hotel and how are they rated so I'm taking his word for it.
|Fundacion Pacita by the artist Pacita Abad.|
|Pagpalain ka ng Diyos.|
Second to the last stop was the Valuvagan Boulder Beach. Yeah, not friendly with those who have b-v speech defect. Lols. I've seen sandy, rocky and corally beaches but a boulder beach is new to me. Tour guide said that the boulders were from Mt. Iraya.
And finally our last stop for the day was the Rolling Hills. It was the perfect last stop as it gave us the time to absorb all the awesomeness we witnessed, both God-made and man-made. It was everything Batanes was all about; cool wind, vast land, blue sky and endless sea.
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