Thursday, November 15, 2012

Batanes: South Batan Tour

For the whole day South Batan tour, our expenses were for the rent of van at P2,000, we did not hire a tour guide as our driver Mang Eloi was knowledgable about the places where most of the tourists are led.

can you see the lighthouse?

The road was winding, reminiscent of Baguio and it's hard to miss a particular yellow marker you'll see before the sharp curves: "blow ur horn". I only learned later that this was already in place before the advent of text-messaging or shortcut spelling. First stop was Chawa View Deck where a cemented stairs led down to the water. Near the road parking is a sitting area, where there are 3 waste buckets for segregation. 

winding road of Batan

road sign

Chawa View Deck
locals practice waste segregation

Next stop was Mahatao. First attraction was the church, which to me was simple. First thing I noticed was the material of the ceiling which looked to me like bamboo, but instead of it being hollow inside, it was actually pithed. As we were exploring, my sister called me to a certain door which led to a room, full of books or journals that were color-coordinated with hues of blue white, and green. Out of curiosity, I pulled one book, only to find out that it was blank. I pulled another one and it also had nothing printed on it. Only after stepping out stepped out did we see the sign: it's actually an artwork called the Batanes Blank Book Archive by Jay F. Ticar

Mahatao Church

Blank Book Archive, Mahatao

Since we hadn't pre-arranged anything for lunch and Vatang Grille is located in Mahatao, we decided to have early lunch here. We stopped by the white beach for a quick peek and headed off to the municipality of Ivana. Mang Eloi stopped at the old Spanish Bridge where we took a few snaps.

white beach

old Spanish Bridge

Just a few hundred meters away, is the oldest house in Batanes, also known as the House of Dakay. The group of Anton Diaz (of and George Tapan, (the 2011 National Geographic Photo Contest Winner) arrived ahead of us, and as they were leaving, we politely asked the person inside if we could chat shortly.

oldest stone house in Batanes

This person is no other than Lola  Florestida Estrella, better known as Lola Ida, who inherited the house, and who have been labeled as the most photographed woman in Batanes.  Although she looked quite fragile, her hearing is impeccable, and she carried with her a good-natured and humorous aura. We remembered we had the untouched vegetables (from lunch) and decided to give it to her. At 2pm, she still hasn't eaten lunch so she was grateful. Only when she received the food did she lament that even if she's the most photographed or most famous person in Batanes, she always goes hungry. So please, when you do visit her, at least please bring her something cooked to eat.

with Lola Ida, the most photographed woman in Batanes

We hated to bid goodbye after our candid conversation, but off we went to the Honesty Coffee Shop. Yes, no one still mans the shop, and you can get pretty much anything you like--snacks, cold softdrinks, souvenirs. Just don't forget to pay for it before you leave. The shop was packed with Diaz's group so we comfortably sat ourselves at the open area at the back of the shop. We helped ourselves to some fresh coconuts. And although we were salivating at the green mangoes, we just could not find any knife to peel it with.  We saw a vakul hanging at the side and we struck a pose for a picture-perfect Tina Turner look ;)

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We did not waste any more time and moved on to the next town of Uyugan. First stop was the Ruins of Songsong, which was quite a challenge as there's no paved path. Next, we had 
a breathtaking view of the rock formations in Alapad. A little to the left is the abandoned Loran Station which now serves as housing for um, goats :)

ruins of Songsong from afar

Loran Station, now home of goats


The highlight of our trip, which to me, represents what Batanes is, is RacuH A Payaman, also known as Marlboro Country. Mang Eloi told us that it is public property, and locals can leave their cattle there to feed on the verdant pastureland. That time of the day, I was already a bit drowsy and was lured by the cottage, inviting me to take a much needed siesta. And that's what I did. Half an hour later, we were ready to conquer and take in the beauty of the rolling hills.

rolling hills of Batanes

coffee break

Like most panoramic places, it was difficult for us to leave, but we headed out to our last destination for the day which was Diura Fishing Village. We paid P50/pax to enter. There was nothing spectacular in the village, save for the ubiquitous buoys and the cut up fish being dried and hung in bamboo poles.  We wanted to buy some to take home but they have a peculiar tradition of not selling until the harvest season was over.

Diura Fishing Village

This is just the South of Batan. Watch out for the next posts as I let you in the other parts of Batanes.


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