Stones and sticks tell the stories of Batanes

Batanes is the only place in the Philippines which is protected in its entirety, thus, securing environmental permits and registering at the municipal hall is a must for visitors. As a first-timer to Batanes, I’d prefer to keep its secrets to myself, but I can’t because it’s the most amazing place on earth. The Batanes airport is undergoing structural updates but exemplifies the islands’ aesthetics. The airport represents my first brush with Batanes. 10293546_10205527821329786_946592745335185606_o

Marine Sanctuary. We got a mayor’s permit to enter the area. This is an untapped dive site and its cool brown, grey and cream sand is cool to the touch. The water feels soothingly cool. Had an awesome time splashing on the beach. Photo by Onnah Valera

This was our ride for our entire stay on Basco Batanes, a unique cogon grass-roofed 10-seater. They made our hectic Basco-Sabtang itinerary very enjoyable. If your vehicle for touring is this open, there’re more opportunities to take photos enroute and breathe in the fresh air.

Photo by Onnah Valera

The arch to this view point says Welcome to Basco. Warm welcomes don’t always come with this view.

Photo by Onnah Valera

Mt. Carmel church is new, but built with the ancient Ivatan style. Its ceiling’s got murals of the 6 patron saints of the six Basco barangays. Mt. Carmel church is new, but built with the ancient Ivatan style.

Photo by Onnah Valera

The “boundaries” called liveng (hedgegrows of cogon reeds or sticks and grass) seen on the hills serve as fences, organic farming tools and anti-erosion for stormy weather

. Photo by Onnah Valera

Marlboro Hills, rolling hills with a stunning 360 view

. Photo by Onnah Valera

Valugan Boulder Beach. As the guides say, Batanes was an accident. Mount Iraya erupted and spewed ash and huge rocks.

Photo by Onnah Valera

Vayang Rolling hills. The population of people in Batanes is only a few thousands, with the lot of cows around, I wonder if there are more cows than people here.

Photo by Onnah Valera

Watched the sunset at the foot of the Basco Lighthouse on Naidi hills

Photo by Onnah Valera

Casa Napoli Pizza is the only pizzeria in town. Make that two. It’s got two outlets. They serve the best pizza and the most tasty fried chicken I reckon. But, if you are a die hard gastronomy fanatic, you might want to head off to Pension Ivatan where we were able to taste the unique local gastronomy. For our group of 8 women, their Ivatan Platter was just enough to feed us. The fish is grilled flying fish! You can see a lobster, beef strips, squid, fried pork called lunis, uvud balls made of taro root, lumot, another vegetable dish that kinda reminds me of laing, red eggs, and turmeric rice in there.

Photo by Onnah Valera

Meet the people who visit Batanes and leave their secrets in this visitors’ library in Mahatao. In these pages, any Batanes visitor is welcome to write, as they say, “What happens in Batanes stays in Batanes”. Their diorama also holds interesting colonial Spanish era facts.

Photo by Onnah Valera Photo by Onnah Valera Photo by Onnah Valera

The faluwa (local Batanes motor boat) we boarded at Ivana Port to bring us to the island of Sabtang.

Photo by Onnah Valera

Sabtang Island. There’s a native fashion called “vakul” which is solely to be worn by women of Batanes to protect them from the elements, sort of an all-weather raincoat/umbrella. My photobomber (she’s part of my tour group) is wearing a vakul. Photo by Onnah Valera Photo by Onnah Valera

Chavayan District is a functional community of Ivatans or locals who live in these stone houses with walls a meter thick, cogon grass for roofing, or in modern times, steel roofing. It kinda reminds me of the Shire in those Lord of The Rings movies.

Photo by Onnah ValeraPhoto by Onnah ValeraPhoto by Onnah Valera

Songsong District experienced a tsunami three decades ago and yet the walls of the Ivatan ruins still stand.

Photo by Onnah Valera Photo by Onnah ValeraView Post

There’s so much for a first-timer to Batanes like me to experience, I only got as far as Basco Island and Sabtang. Itbayat is another Island they recommend to see. Actually, it would’ve been cool to really know the Ivatans by living “homestay” style in their stone houses. I hope to return and do this next time. The stone houses tell quite a marvelous story about Batanes and the Ivatans.

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  • Comments (2)
  1. Good break that was, Sheen ❤ I updated it, saw some errors hehe

  2. finally a write up! 🙂 Hay, naiinggit na kami nambonggs ni Dyonene 🙂

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