Batanes is undeniably every Filipino traveler’s dream destination. Just looking at the photos from traveler who made it to this majestic place will leave you awestruck. The green plateau, the blue turquoise water, the scenery of the seascape and landscape – everything that you see on pictures are almost perfect. So how does it feel to finally set foot to this breathtaking place? Let me share to you how I felt during my solo trip to Batanes.
But first here are some facts about our country’s last frontier. Batanes is located on the northernmost part of the Philippines, an isolated and very remote province reached only by air travel, it is 190 km south of Taiwan and 162 kilometres off North Luzon. It is compose of 10 islands, with the three biggest the only ones inhabited: Batan, Sabtang and Itbayat. It is the country’s smallest province both in land area and population. Sabtang Island, the smallest inhabited Island, has just a little bit over a thousand in population. The entire province (yes! You’re reading it right, entire province) is on the tentative list of the UNESCO World Heritage List.
Left: Vayang Rolling Hills. Upper Right: Chawa View Deck. Lower Right: Madangay, Uyugan
So how is it visiting Batanes? I must say one of the best travel decision I made in my life – a travel adventure I will never forget. Traveling alone gives you time to reflect about life, get to meet new friends along the way amongst other things – and this place is the perfect spot to do it. Everything is a picture perfect site, it doesn’t matter what angle you are taking it is just 360 degrees amazing view, no filter needed as they say.
Left: Tayid Lighthouse, one of the three functional lighthouses in Batanes situated in the town of Mahatao. Upper Right and Lower Right: Aerial view of Batanes
With the beautiful seascape and landscape combined, this is the perfect place to shoot or just watch sunrise and/or sunset. When the sun goes down, the rolling hills of Batanes are painted by the shadows of the sun and the colors reflected on the green lush give a different shine altogether. The blue turquoise shade of water gives a different glimmer on the sea, it is a hue of blue that is different on the beaches that is present in the country, maybe because this is where the Pacific Ocean and West Philippine Sea meets, just a personal observation of mine. Being in Batanes feels like you’ve been transported to an entirely different world. Pictures doesn’t even come close to the actual scenery that you will see.
You may think that Batanes is a sight to behold, but wait till you experience meeting the Ivatans, the locals of Batanes. Yes, the place is breathtaking! But you know what makes it more beautiful? Their people. Their genuinely good heart makes everyone feel welcome. By listening to their stories of resiliency and kindness you feel nothing but admiration and respect to them. I guess they are one, if not the most, empowered group of Indigenous People in the country. Their eyes beam with pride whenever they talk about their beautiful culture and how people are genuinely kind to each other, how they help each other without expecting anything in return, how resilient they are when it comes to calamities and difficulties in life in general and how extremely honest they are. They are very proud that they were able to adapt and make ways in order for them to survive to an island life with limited resources because of difficulty of transportation of goods to the province. The limited capacity of government to help them abruptly in time of calamities due to the remoteness of the place. The limited health care system that the province can provide because of the difficulty in transporting health care supplies. Despite these limitations they were able to adjust. The technique of how they cook their food and preserve it so it will have a longer shelf life so in times of strong typhoon when everything is destroyed they still have food to eat- understanding their way of food preservation makes you appreciate their food more. Added to the fact that most of their ingredients are locally produced so they do not heavily rely on food supplies being shipped to the province.
Stone houses in the village of Savidug in Sabtang Island in Batanes.
Despite these limitations you won’t ever see them hopeless or pitiful, rather they are very positive, strong and resilient, making you appreciate them more in a deeper level. With their genuine heart and strength, it is no surprise that Batanes has zero crime rate, It makes you realize that it is possible to live safely if people are a bit kinder and considerate to one another.
This is Batanes for me. A place worthy visiting over and over. Glad to be part of the small circle of wanderers who made it to the Philippines’ last frontier. Should you go to Batanes? YES. Even once in your life, experience Batanes.
Dios Mamajes Batanes!
- Sheryl Loba-Baes