Batanes: a still unspoiled paradise
By Rox Cezar
15 May 2012
Batanes, the northernmost province of the Philippines, only has three inhabited islands where most Ivatan folks farm, fish, and go about other businesses.
Batan is relatively the most developed island in terms of commerce and tourism, especially in the provincial capital town of Basco, where most hotels and other tourist facilities and services are located and offered to visitors. Batan also has several attractions that one certainly cannot cover in a day. Both natural and man-made wonders on the island will surely astonish even local Filipino tourists, such as rolling hills, imposing cliffs, distinct sand and boulder beaches, old churches and vernacular dwellings, as well as local food and delicacies.
The photos taken at Batan are those from the following towns: Basco, showing the Valugan Boulder Beach; Mahatao, with the triangular natural rock formation offshore at a fishing village in Sitio Diura; Uyugan, old Ivatan house made of stones and corals; and Ivana, showcasing the famous storekeeper-less Honesty Coffee Shop.
Sabtang is the smallest inhabited island in the province that can be reached by about an hour falowa boat ride from the Ivana town port on Batan Island. This island offers, among others, villages with traditional native Ivatan stone houses, rolling green hills, and white beaches.
Falowas are oval shaped motorized passenger boats without the outrigger and are the only affordable mode of transportation used in Batanes to travel from one island to another.
Photos from Sabtang feature the naturally formed rock arc at Nakanmuan white beach, and some folks and an Ivatan woman at Chavayan.
The biggest island of Batanes is also known as the town of Itbayat, which is considered one of the largest uplifted single coral masses in the world. Because of this, the island naturally is without coastline and shored by virtually treacherous coral cliffs. This rugged landscape is the most challenging among the three islands. Nonetheless, Itbayat offers a number of attractions for the adventurous tourists that cannot be covered in just two days of roaming the island. There are also smaller islands north of Itbayat that are equally impressive.
Photos from Itbayat present the following: the Sta. Maria Church in Mayan, the town center; Chinapoliran, one of the exciting ports on the island for falowas; views at the top of a historic ancient cave; and palek, the locally produced sugarcane wine.
As common knowledge, most tourists can conveniently negotiate this challenging piece of paradise on Earth during the summer months in the Philippines, which usually are from March to May, barring climate change. Such a short window Mother Nature has allotted for mere wandering mortals with priceless rewards of breathtaking sights and pristine cultural experience.
Both for local and foreign travelers, a substantial trip to Batanes will definitely realize one's dream of an amazing tourist adventure. As they say, it's more fun in the Philippines, ha ha.