The golden sun appeared amidst the clouds that signal an impending storm. The heavens occasionally give a blanket of clouds that eventually withers then forms again. It is tug-of-war weather between the sun and the rain on my second day in Batanes. The latter months of the year only prove the climate to be volatile. The cycle went throughout the day but I am grateful that the heavens are generous enough to let us experience South Batan area without any compromise.
The day started with a view that looks straight out of a postcard. Chawa View Deck offers a refreshing vista of the open ocean; the deep blue colors that mirror the skies above. Words are simply not enough to describe how beautiful of a paradise our northernmost province is.
The violent barrage of waves is projected especially during a storm. Mahatao Shelter Port protect the vessels that the Ivatans use for fishing and transport between islands. One of the reasons how the Ivatans survived the weathers of the North is their adaptability. They use their landscape for their advantage and to rise above the challenge that every storm brings. The best example is this shelter port, this is an ingenious way to protect their vessels from the open sea.
Another key trait that I learned from them is being generous for the good of their community. Tayid Lighthouse sits on a hill from a piece of land that was donated by the owner of the vast pasture land that surrounds the area. South Batan is full of things to love about not only its geographic beauty but the stories of its people and the inspiration it gives to everyone who visits their humble place.
Widely known as The Fountain of Youth, Rakuh-a-Idi is a pool that provides a refreshing break to a traveler. Its water comes from a natural spring while its pool offers a panoramic view of the Pacific Ocean and Mt. Iraya. The locals close the pool on a regular basis for maintenance to prevent moss from building up and to the vicinity in general. Make sure to coordinate your visit with your tour operator so that you can have an idea if the pool is open for the day.
Marlboro Hills as most of as calls it Rakuh-a-Payaman is a community pastureland where cattle graze freely on the vast rolling hills covered with green grass. A word of caution though not to approach any cattle as they become aggressive and territorial at times.
Who will forget the iconic scene of Dawn Zulueta and Richard Gomez on the movie they shot in this place? Couples do strike a pose to imitate the film frame and it proves to be a story worth telling once you visited the place. As for a solo traveler, I simply enjoy the view and admire the nimble goats grazing on the hillsides.
Alapad Rock Formations is adjacent to Madangay Hills and it is widely known because of the road that passes through it. The Blow Your Horn signage are scattered across the island and it is a practice for the drivers to blow their horns at dangerous turns through valleys and series of winding roads.
This shop claimed its name to fame across the globe for being a store that showcases how Ivatans values and practices honesty and integrity. The shop’s rule is simple, choose what you want, record what you bought, and drop your payment on a box. Unlike its origin where no one mans the store today, this Honesty Shop has their attendant to have your bills changed if you need the exact amount to be dropped on the box.
One point in history came when the Spanish colonization forced the people of Sabtang to relocate in Ivana. This required the Spaniards to erect a bigger church to serve the population. With almost 300 years of history, this church tells the colonization and the eventual freedom it claimed when the revolutionaries waved the Katipunan flag in 1898.
While most of the bridges are in ruins and modern roads have already been laid. The people of Batanes clearly showed how they value and practice their religion. While road and bridge constructions are built for commerce many of the bridges are erected to ease their travel going to church.
The oldest stone House of Dakay was constructed in 1887 and one of the 5 stone houses that survived the earthquake of September 13, 1918. Today it is recognized as a treasure and a UNESCO heritage building.
If the story of Batanes can be summarized in one word it would be ‘resilience’. The whole island is a testament how they adapted to strong Pacific typhoons, a history of colonization, earthquakes, fire and now the threat of commercialization and dwindling of their unique culture. As a traveler one should always be mindful that we are just a visitor and we must respect the culture and the people that live in the places we visit.