Monday, March 07, 2016

The Northernmost Province of Batanes: Day One


After a number of years waiting, we were finally able  to make it to the northernmost province of the Philippines, Batanes. The exorbitant fare going to Batanes was what kept us from going there. One time we planned to go only to find out that it was cheaper to go to Guam than to Batanes. So we opted to go to the former. I got the opportunity when I read one day a promo fare to this fabled islands. Hence three months before, I already secured our tickets which was half the usual price. 

The bishop of Batanes, whom I regularly now see at the CBCP  was very much eager that we visit him there. In fact I already mentioned it to him a few years back and told me anytime I could go there. The week before we were supposed to leave, two successive typhoons visited the place. The effects of the typhoon was in fact still felt in Manila when we left. It was still raining and the skies were dark. Although not bumpy, we were flying just above the clouds all the time we flew from Manila to Batanes.  Rain stopped when we arrived in Basco. Fr. Roger, the oeconomus and the parish priest of Basco was there to meet us together with Rev. Billy. We were billeted at the  bishop’s house  which was just across the parish convent. The bishop’s car was at our disposal for the whole trip. They were thinking that we would still rest after breakfast but then we told our hosts that we were already ready and excited to explore Batanes. So after breakfast Fr. Roger who also was our driver gave us a tour.  Our first stop was at the Mt. Carmel chapel at Tukon which was made of stone like the typical houses of the Ivatans. From there we proceeded to the Fundacion Pacita. This was the former workplace of the artist Pacita Abad which has been converted to a boutique hotel. There are several artworks of Pacita displayed in the building. We had some coffee over there as we enjoyed the scenery around. This house is the poster display at the Manila domestic airport.  At the garden there are statues of the parents of Abad. Was told they are also buried there.  The Abad children among them Butch Abad the present budget secretary is the twelfth child, Pacita the artist, being the fourth.

From the Fundacion we passed by the Dipnaysupuan Japanese tunnel. One could stand along the corridors of the tunnel which leads to a 32 flight of steps going down. From the foot of the steps one could already see some light at the other end. Before reaching it, Ronnie noticed a yellow snake curled along the side.

Next stop was the Valugan boulder beach. It was explained to us that the big round stones came from the nearby Mt. Iraya which last erupted in 400 AD.  We noticed also the unique boats that they have in Batanes which were like the sampan. It has no outrigger but twice as  wide than the ordinary outrigger boats. Mostly made of fiber glass.

Our last stop before lunch was the rolling hills of Vayang, the Naidi hills and the Basco lighthouse.

In the afternoon, our trip was to the southern part of the island of Batan. We stopped first at the Chawa Viewdeck where one has a view of the West Philippine Sea and the mountainside were the waves were wildly splashing the sides of the cliffs  below. Passing by the town of Mahatao, we went east up to the popularly known Marlboro country, the rolling hills of  Racuh a Payawan. Stayed there for almost an hour savoring the view of the hills and the sea. Then we passed by Imnajbu, the Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal Shrine in Itbud, Uyugan. Took pictures of typical Ivatan houses in Itbud.  Then we went to the town of Uyugan. San Antonino de Florencia Parish. Our driver and guide this time was Fr. Billy who was the parish priest of Uyugan. What surprised us the most was that the convent, although no one was there was just left wide open. Fr. Billy explained that it is the usual practice in Batanes. Homes are never locked. There are very rare cases of theft in the island.  From there we took the road around the island which brought us to the next town of Ivana, passing by first the Honesty Store. Took pictures of the Ivana church. Then we visited the church of Mahatao.

Basco Airport

The Bishop's House was just across the convento of the Cathedral

Bishop's House in Batanes

The Cathedral of Batanes is dedicated to the Immaculate Conception which is the patron of the Prelature of Batanes. But the church is named after Sto. Domingo. The Dominicans were the ones who evangelized Batanes, hence most of the saints in the island are Dominican saints. 

Inside the Cathedral

Cathedral Altar

The Blessed Sacrament Chapel just beside the Cathedral

The Cathedral Parish Rectory

Fundacion Pacita

Fundacion Pacita now serves as a boutique hotel

Welcome art at the Fundacion Pacita

Painting of  Pacita Abad graces the entrance of the Cafe

The Cafe at the Fundacion Pacita

Statues of the  parents of the Abad in the garden with a beautiful view of the hills and the sea.

The Tukon Chapel

One of the side doors of the Chapel

The port of Basco

Entrance to the Dipnaysupuan Japanese Tunnel

A yellow snake along the walls of the Dipnaysupuan tunnel
Valugan Beach

Rocks and boulders at the Valugan Beach

The Vayang Hills

The rolling hills of Vayang

A majestic view of the sea and the hills and the sea.

Basco lighthouse

Basco lighthouse

A view of the town of Basco from the lighthouse

Bunkers near the Basco lighthouse. The foreground building has been converted to a Cafe

Road leading to the Chawa viewdeck

An aerial view of the town of Mahatao, the boat shelter and the Chawa viewdeck.

Chawa Viewdeck

View of the waves crushing the cliffs at the Chawa Viewdeck

View from the Chawa viewdeck

The boat shelter in Mahatao Idjang

Mahatao Parish Church dedicated to San Carlos Borromeo

Mahatao Parish Church

An old lighthouse in Mahatao

The altar of Mahatao Church

The hills of Racuh a Payawan, popularly called the Marlboro country

One of the  promontory of hills of Marlboro country

A windswept tree on top of the hill.

Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal Shrine in Itbud, Uyugan. 

Inside the church of Itbud.

One of the sights along the road to Itbud.

Ivatan house in Itbud.

A village street in Itbud

A house with a galvanized roof, a rare sight in Itbud.

Houses are just by roadside in Itbud. 

The parish church of Uyugan dedicated to San Antonino de Florencia.

Church altar of Uyugan

The municipal hall of Uyugan.

The famous Honesty store in Ivana. 

The church of San Jose de  Ivana, Built as a chapel in 1787, it was later built into a stone church in 1795. The three storey belfry crumbled to the ground during the earthquake on Sept. 13, 1918. In July 15, 2000, the facade and belfry was destroyed again in an intensity 8.0 earthquake. 

Inside the church of San Jose de Ivana.

A view of the church from the beach.

The most pictured house in Batanes, the House of Dakay. It is a sample of a maytuab house, that is, it has a four sided roof.