Palawan. Davao City. Boracay. Baguio City.
I still feel giddy as a kid every time a curious traveler asks me about these places. I may be experienced with travels, but it still feels all new as I recall my moments back in these places. I guess the reason why I’m writing this blog is the fact that it just feels surreal to share to people, like you, the gems that I found in my motherland.At the most fortunate times, there are people who mention a couple of places that do not share the same level of popularity as the above mentioned. I do not hesitate to share. I do not digress. I know that when one asks about these places, they are either researchers or plainly, people with wanderlust souls. Batanes is one of these places. Although not given the same light as many places in the Philippines, I can assure you easily that it is one of the best places to be in if you’re wanting a unique type of adventure.
Let me tell you what Batanes has got under its sleeves.
Flying to Batanes
Since it is cut off from the rest of Philippine islands, going to the province is a little bit tricky, but possible. Right now, Philippine Airlines and Skyjet Airlines offer flights directly to Basco, Batanes from Manila City. Plane tickets usually range from $56 to $58. Take note that this only for a one-way ticket. Here’s the tricky part: going in and out of the province usually have different rates. So, make sure to book your flights ahead of time for you not to get surprised with the possible price hike.
Step into stone-built walls in Ivatan House
Bahay Kubo or the traditional Filipino house is usually built with bamboos. Together with cogon roof, it heightens the provincial ambiance that you cannot find back in the cities. You will definitely have a glimpse of the humble life in the countryside. It also gives me a vibe of what will it be like to go home everyday to this cozy place after a whole day of meetings and paper works. I mean, everyone deserves this kind of homey feel right?
But Batanes have a different concept of traditional Filipino houses. I was surprised to see cogon roofs with stone walls. According to the locals I talked with, this unusual material serves as their protection against earthquakes. The Ivatan house has proven to withstand a strong magnitude of earthquakes because a lot of houses are still in the area, for instance, The Dakay House. It is considered as the oldest house in Batanes.
Your Ivatan culture will not be complete without seeing Tukon Church. The limestone walls may have originated from the Spanish era, but it does not mean that the present generation cannot continue its practice. Just like the Dakay House, this Catholic chapel is also known for having its walls built of stones. Intricately designed and engineered to endure environmental factors, the buildings of Batanes is just one of its many trademarks.
Feel the Sound of Music in Marlboro Hills
I felt like I was Julie Andrews singing “Do Re Mi” when I first saw Marlboro Hills. I had no words. It was just stunning. A sea of green and friendly winds brushing on your skin, the isolated vibe surrounding your soul, it doesn’t get any better than that. The scenery just reminds me of how thankful I am that I chose to do what I do for a living.
You are, literally, surrounded by green fields. You can roll. You can walk from end to end. You can ride a bike if you want to. On top of the hills, you can clearly see the beach and the Tayid Lighthouse. Local animals like carabaos also walk freely around the area. It is an understatement if I tell you that it is one of the most relaxing places I’ve ever been to.
Time travel back to the Japanese occupation
Another thing I discovered in Batanes is how it is also lust with Philippine history. My textbooks back in high school did not mention about the traces of Japanese occupation in this quiet place. It is a peaceful province,not to mention its zero percent crime rate. I did not expect to find World War II fragments.
My trip to Batanes instantly became another opportunity for me to learn more about my country’s process of becoming. The locals brought me to Dipnaysupuan, a dark long tunnel. I learned that it was used to be one of the hideouts of the Japanese soldiers. I also saw ruins of a communication center and was formerly operated by the American soldiers. It seems like the local government kept these places to remind us that Batanes still holds a part of Philippine history despite being in the northern most part.
Quiet beaches of Batanes
Debunking 101: Batanes is not prone to typhoons or any other natural calamity. Locals or even foreigners have a misconception that the province is usually under Signal 4 typhoon. It is not. There is more to it than rainfall and lightning.
So, you don’t have to worry about visiting their beaches. They are safe and they can become of one the places you will never forget. In my case, I fell in love with Sabtang Beach. The geological structure that envelops the white sand beach was just jaw-dropping. I have never seen such a beautiful naturally-built arch as Makabuang Arch. The scenic view is really an Instagram-worthy item. I was also stunned by how quiet the place was.
In my Vulugan beach experience, I was welcomed by huge boulders and rocky beachside. I am not exaggerating when I tell you that the beach has stones instead of sand. It may be entirely different from Sabtang Beach but it does not make your Batanes trip any less worth it. Surprisingly, I was able to witness a different side of the province in this island.
If most places in Batanes offer you quiet and peace, the shore of the Vulugan Beach begs to differ. Strong blue waves and winds meet the huge boulders placed on the shore. However, the breathtaking scenery was entirely sufficient. Friendly Tip: do not forget to bring your hiking or beach shoes to enjoy your tour in the beach.
Batanes may have been cut off from the rest of the world. However, it does not mean that you have to remove it in your bucket list. Trust me, there is no peaceful and calming place like Batanes!
Keep on traveling!