I am literally a tourist in my own country. There are so many beautiful places I see only in pictures. I can only dream of going to these places, as I am limited by time and finances. Nevertheless, it won't stop me from writing about them.
Let's start from the northermost group of islands - the Batanes Islands. The 3 largest of them are Itbayat, Batan and Sabtang. Travel time by plane from the capital Manila to Basco in Batan Island is approximately 2 hours.
The people of Batanes are called "Ivatans." They are hardworking, hospitable people living simple lives. Like most Filipinos, Ivatans are of Malay origin, with an interracial mix of Chinese (being very close to Taiwan) and Spanish (colonization during the 1600s). Isolated from the main island of Luzon for hundreds of years, the Ivatans have maintained their cultural uniqueness as evidenced in their physical features - short and stocky like the Malays, almond/chinky eyes from the Chinese, and aquiline noses from the Spanish. The Ivatans usually go around wearing a headgear called "Vakul" which is woven abaca fiber. This protects them from the sun and the rain. Their main industry is fishing and cattle raising. With the vast expanse of water around them, they are ensured of a good catch everyday. Well, except during storm season.
Batanes is the province that gets the brunt of most typhoons, as it is here where the Pacific Ocean meets with the China Sea. Sea conditions can be rough, specially during the months of July to September. Other than that, the climate in Batanes is pleasant and cool, giving rise to green and abundant grazing grounds perfect for raising cattle.During December to February, temperatures can dip to as low as 7 degrees Celsius.
|An Ivatan village|
A typical Ivatan house is made of rocks and limestone, their walls being almost a meter thick. The people built their houses this way because of the storms that pass through the islands every year. The roofs are made of cogon (or wild grass), thickly packed and secured to weather the strong winds. With the advancement of industry and trade with the mainland of Luzon, some residents now use galvanized iron sheets as roofing.
Travelling to Batanes is like travelling to paradise. You can trek along the low rise hills and have a breath-taking view of the vastness of the Pacific Ocean. You can sit on a veranda and watch the beautiful sunset. Then there are the old lighthouses, the wide stretches of white sand beaches and natural rock formations. It is all about nature!
Another unusual place in Batanes is the "Honesty Coffee Shop." Like an ordinary convenience store, but the difference is.. there is no one minding it! Items have price tags on them and customers just pick what they want and drop their payment in a box. Exactly what the name of the establishment is - - HONESTY COFFEE SHOP. :)
Batanes offers hotel accomodation too. There are small hotels and lodging houses. Prices are affordable and reasonable enough. If I would travel to Batanes, I would probably choose the Fundacion Pacita, situated on top of a hill and offers that beautiful view of the ocean and adjacent islands.
I would love to visit Batanes in my lifetime. I will be including this in my bucket list. I would probably just sit on top of a hill and be awed at the beauty of God's creation... and thank Him that I was born a Filipino.
Additional information about the Province of Batanes may be viewed at http://tourism-philippines.com/batanes/ or visit http://www.visitmyphilippines.com
BATANES, I hope to see you soon!!!