November 30, 2010

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November 20, 2010

Wow Batanes

       Five hundred kilometres away from Manila, Batanes with its ten islands, three of the largest being Batan, Itbayat, and Sabtang is more of as neighbour to Taiwan with only half of the distance from Manila as its gap.
Tucked as it is in the northernmost part of the Philippines, Batanes seems to exist in a time of its own with its history written from a very local perspective. There are neither famous battlefields here nor ancestral homes lived in by national heroes or prominent figures in the past.  But what’s good to note in being small and isolated from the general scheme of things is that the culture of its people, the Ivatans, was preserved. Today, Batanes stands a testament to the rich Ivatan history.
To peer into the milestones of the Ivatan story, visit it’s churches. They mark the arrival of the Catholic faith and the beginning of the Spanish dominion in the Batanes Islands. The San Carlos Borromeo Church of Mahatao is notable in being named a Natural Cultural Heritage Treasure by the National Commission for Culture and Arts. It is the best preserved among the old churches. San Jose el Obrero church in Ivana, on the other hand, earned its place in history when the Katipuneros arrived and hoisted the revolutionary flag from its campanilla.
The village is also a fine example of the Spanish implementation of Philip II’s Law of the Indies. The priest herded the people into town and introduced urban planning and a new type of architecture. The result is the cobblestone pathways and the lime and stone houses that have become icons of the Ivatan culture.
The earliest beginnings of Ivatan history are still being established. So far, archaeologists have pushed it to 4500 B.C.. Along the way, their findings have expanded and enriched the Filipino cultural landscape with a number if discoveries unique to only the Ivatans.
With their signature hedgerows used to protect crops, citadels with perforated columnar stones,  shells ling-ling-o-earrings, and boat-shaped grave markers, a burial practice shared with the Vikings  of Scandinavia, it’s no wonder Batanes is under  consideration as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Need a break from the past? Check out Batanes’ pristine beches or dive in Kural Marine sanctuary and Diahang Reef in Basco. Duvek Bay and Vuhus Reef in Sabtang, a secret paradise is also a must stop. But if the waves preclude island hopping or deep-sea-fishing, the simple pleasure of flying a kite in Tukun is also a treat. And if you’re  in for an adventure climb, then Mount Iraya and Mount Matarem are there for you to conquer. Whatever thrill you choose, be sure to pause and allow yourself to be mesmerized with the sights. Beauty and Batanes are after all synonymous.
  • There are daily flights from Manila to Batanes, travel time is less than two hours. Alternatively, one can do a road trip first and travel by land to Laoag City, Ilocos Norte, or Tugegarao City, Cagayan before taking Sky Pasada, an air taxi using 19-seater planes.
  • Another travel option is to venture on the new 12-hour sea route via the MISUBI boat from Curimao, Ilocos Norte.
  • Accommodations range from the creatively infused Fundacion Pacita Batanes Nature Lodge of internationally acclaimed artist, Pacita Abad, with rooms ranging from P5,050-P8,450/night to Batanes Resort’s stone cottages with a picturesque view for only P50-P1,528/night. For a first-hand cultural experience, rent out a room from the Ivatan families for a great deal of P250/night/person.
  • Sample of indigenous fruits like the vuyavuy dates from April and May, then in June and July try the chayi. This local longan with sweet gelatinous fresh grows only in Batanes and Calayan.
  • And to get into the spirit of dining a la Batanes, indulge in lobster and tatus (coconut crab) and nihaman (yellow rice) with cabbaya (breadfruit) leaves as plates in Bunker Café.
  • For a noble experience, test your integrity at the Honesty Café. Choose, total your purchases, then drop your payment in the collection box. With no vendors at any time, trusts is the foremost currency.
  • The best time to go to Batanes is from March to June  or the last two weeks of September. This tiny window of opportunity is known as Dekey a Rayuun or “Little Summer.” Batanes has a semi-temperate climate due to its location so best to check weather forecasts before planning your trip.
Sky Pasada
Tugegarao Office
+6378 844 1011, +63929 184 1388
MISUBI Sea Transportation Cooperative
1588 Sanatana St., Barangay Kaychanarianan, Basco
Captain Ryan Banzuela, +63921 364 9092
Arlene Velayo, +6321 573 7857, +63906 309 9509
Fundacion Pacita Batanes Nature Lodge
Tukon, Basco
Batanes Resort
Kaychanarianan, Basco
+632 927 2393, +6378 533.3444, +6378 533 3456
+63921 229.0120, +63915 940 4823
Batanes Homestay Association
+63926 901 5689
Basco Office
Mr. Edgar Ugali
+63919 570 1911
Batanes Official Website
by Bona Resurrecion
Turista Magazine
special thanks to : Vernes Go