Friday, May 11, 2012

BATANES: 6 Reasons Why Ivatans Are Likable and Why It's So Easy to Feel at Home with Them

Even as backpackers, we all encounter touts in whatever destination we go to--be it in our own country or internationally. They are unavoidable. So it was natural for me to put my guard up the moment I arrived Batanes. In my thoughts, it is a tourist destination so naturally, people will somehow want to get a share of the tourism money pie and take advantage of the travelers. It wasn't long before I let my guard down, after experiencing that Ivatans are truly pure in their hearts and that they have your best interest in mind. 

. Ivatans are transparent, tourism staff or not.
Prior to arrival, I requested our lodge (DDD Habitat) for an arranged tour of Batanes, after having researched that most who travel here are on a package. Originally, there were 4 of us, unfortunately, my cousin arrived the airport 5 minutes after the check-in counter closed, and so he wasn't allowed to be in the flight anymore, and decided to just rebook in another date. So the quoted price became too steep for the three of us, and our host Noemi could not adjust the package rate any lower. In the end, she graciously suggested that we do the tour ourselves, thus, removing the minimal service charge she often adds to the package, and ended up recommending ideal itineraries, places to eat, fees to pay, etc. 

Moving back one day. The night before our flight, while doing last-minute research, I stumbled upon a blog where a local Ivatan commented. I immediately sent him a private message for any tips on Batanes travel. When we arrived at the airport the following day, while I was looking for our baggage stickers, a guy approached and asked, "Shawi?" He introduced himself as Ryan, the guy I sent an FB message to the previous day. He happened to be a Batanes Cultural Travel Agency (BCTA) tour guide as well. We had short pleasantries and after a few minutes, he was at our lodge helping with itineraries that fit our budget. He gave the rates upfront, with no hidden charges. It didn't stop there, every day, Ryan would call or SMS to ask how our tour went. When we were having lunch at Vatang Grille, he even requested the people at the restaurant to play a documentary on Batanes, which we truly appreciate, as it gave us a better picture of Ivatan life and culture.

enjoying Kamote muffins with Ryan
Fundacion Pacita

It was surprising to know that even those in the tourism industry themselves do not abuse the ignorance of tourists. 

. Everyone knows Everybody.
It would be such a shame to disgrace your family's name once caught committing a crime. Therefore, Batanes has near to Zero Crime Rate; with the detention cells empty, the police are bored with nothing much to do. 

While we were on the road, whether on our rented van in Batan or our indigenous tricycle in Sabtang, our drivers would nod or give a friendly honk at each vehicle passing by to acknowledge the other person. 

our friendly Sabtang guide / driver: Mang Edwin

. Lost Something? For sure it will be Found!
After our day-tour, I didn't even notice that I left my camera case in the van.  A few minutes later, Tatang Eloi was back at the lodge to return it to me.

The following day, I left my water bottle during lunch at SDCBI Canteen. When I went back late in the afternoon, it was still there!

During the southern island tour, there were times when Tatang Eloi would leave the van unlocked. Chill, no one would run off with it. 

Mang Eloi takes us down Chanarian View Deck

. Ivatans do not speak negatively against their politicians.
Chatting with our home stay host in Chavayan, she told us that their politicians are not corrupt, because there's nothing to steal from the people. We are not "money-rich", she said. True, as we spotted their governor riding a single motorbike with his wife.

Auntie Lilia, our homestay host in Chavayan.

. Ivatans are respectful.
I wince whenever our driver Tatang Eloi (age 63) would say "po". Even Ate Monica (DDD's), who's clearly older than us, never fails to say "po".

. Ivatans love mother nature.
They take care of their natural resources, knowing that it is the major attraction that draws tourists to their province. At tourist spots, they make it easy for you to segregate waste. Be ashamed when you litter.

waste segregation
Chanarian View Deck

Of all the tourist destinations I've ever been to, this must be the ONLY place where I was less stressed because clearly, the locals are not after exploiting tourists. They want every traveler to get the most hospitable experience, making it difficult for you to leave, and leave you wanting to get back there soon.

With so much love that is being transmitted in the atmosphere, any negative thought would clearly be out of place in this haven. 

Have you been to Batanes? Did you experience their warm hospitality? 


Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...