Batanes Rocks! (Part 1)

Batanes is not just a beautiful place. It is an experience that cannot be wholly captured in words or pictures alone.

There were seven of us in the group, all were girls, and I only knew one person: Candy. She was my friend from way back in high school and when she first invited me to go to Batanes,
I did not hesitate. Didn’t matter that I didn’t know anyone else in the trip or that I would be living in poverty for the next three months just to save up for the air fare. I was going.

And so I went.

After a séjour in Cagayan Valley where we would make our connecting flight to Basco, we found ourselves at the Tuguegarao Airport a full hour earlier than the airport’s opening. We were going to take the North Sky charter plane because it was cheaper than a direct-to-Basco flight from Manila. And was I excited! I was going to ride a charter plane for the first time! Something I only read about in books or see in movies will be happening to me. It will no longer be an activity limited to the rich and famous. I was feeling very sosyal right there.

flying on a charter plane Batanes Rocks

charter plane

Before boarding the plane though, we had to undergo some painful proceeding as apparently, each one of us exceeded the allotted baggage allowance per passenger. The North Sky staff informed us that, contrary to previous advice from our contact person, only 5kg of baggage per person was allowed. And this 5kg already included both hand-carry and check-in luggage. So, almost everyone had to pay an additional P50/kg of excess baggage (mine measured 5.5kg).

Read more on how to travel light.

flying on a charter plane Batanes Rocks

just right for us 8 girls (the last was a complete stranger) plus 2 pilots

Anyway, I was already very excited for take off and to begin the actual experience of flying via charter plane. But just my luck, my seat was a bit uncomfortable because the air-con vent was directly blasting air against the back of my head and I was seated at the eastern side so the sun was shining on me with all its might. And because it was a really small plane, it felt less pressurized and I felt like this combination was going to give me a migraine. So, after taking a few pictures of the land below us, I tried taking a nap just like everybody else.

flying on a charter plane Batanes Rocks

fields of green

At last we arrived at the airport and my first impression was that it was, well, small. But it was a really nice airport because the welcoming committee included Mt. Iraya, the highest peak in Batan Island.

Batanes

Preview of the beauty to come: Mt. Iraya as visible from the Basco Airport

Batanes

cute airport

After getting our baggage and some photo op, we got in the Batanes Cultural Travel Agency van for a lift to our lodging of choice, which turned out to be only a few streets away from the airport. DDD Habitat has a really great location in that it seemed to be near almost everything, the airport, the plaza and the souvenir shops. For P1800 a night, we were able to book the air-conditioned Sabtang room which consisted of two queen-sized beds, a bunk-bed, three side tables, a CRT TV, pillows, blankets, toilet paper, towels, soap bars and six sockets. The bathroom however was not inside the room and had to be shared with the occupants of another room. And to make up for our needs, the owner allowed us to use the one near the kitchen. Both bathrooms however were not perfect: the one beside our room had a very weak flush that made doing number 2 a tricky business while the other bathroom’s faucet was quite detachable so one could find oneself drenched in cold water if the faucet was not handled with care. Meanwhile, one advantage of staying there was the free wi-fi, which was pretty decent, except during our second night.

DDD Habitat Batanes

DDD Habitat

Batanes Rocks

neighbor

After depositing our stuff at the lodging house, we decided to look for a place to eat because it was already nearly lunch and it’s fair to say that the excitement of riding a charter plane made everyone hungry. We ate at the SDBCI Canteen near the town plaza. I had some unremarkable unidentified fish sinigang with rice. After lunch, it was already almost one o’clock and our North Batan Island Tour was about to commence. We intercepted the BCTA van on its way to DDD Habitat and off we went to the North.

Batanes Rocks

street life

Batanes Provincial Capitol

Batanes Provincial Capitol

Batanes Rocks

public service

Batanes Rocks

km 0

First stop was the Tukon Chapel or Mt. Carmel Chapel which was built in the tradition of the stone houses that Batanes is famous for.

Tukon Chapel Batanes

Tukon Chapel a.k.a. Mt. Carmel Chapel

Batanes Rocks

view opposite the church

Batanes Rocks

practicing my panorama shot

Next stop was the Tukon Radar Station.

Basco PAGASA Station Batanes

Basco PAGASA Station

I was seated towards the back of the van so I could hardly hear what our tour guide was saying about the two places that we’ve been. But then my tourmates started getting excited when he mentioned this place that I have never heard off: Fundacion Pacita.

Fundacion Pacita Batanes

Fundacion Pacita du Tukon

The resort, according to their website, was the “home studio of internationally-acclaimed artist Pacita Abad”. The resort’s façade was really pretty and there were artworks everywhere! However, staying there overnight would be more expensive than our entire budget for a 4-day stay in Batanes (which includes tours, food and pasalubongs). But then again, as per their website, the proceeds go to the funding of education of young Ivatan artists. Maybe next time?

Fundacion Pacita Batanes

Fundacion Pacita

Meanwhile, it was decided that we would go back there the next day for some coffee. And while arrangements were being made, I and another tourmate made our way to the resort’s restroom. It turned out that we were a group of small-bladder ladies and a big chunk of the trip would be spent looking for or staying at restrooms.

Fundacion Pacita Batanes

welcome artwork

Fundacion Pacita Batanes

the artist

Next stop was the Basco Ijang which was an ancient Ivatan fortress.

Basco Ijang Batanes

Basco Ijang

Then it was time to check out the “Japanese” tunnel, which was actually a tunnel built by the Ivatans. The Japanese used them as hiding places during the World War II.

Japanese Tunnel Batanes

Japanese Tunnel

Batanes Rocks

roadside view

Batanes Rocks

even the road looks pretty

From the tunnels, we made our way to the Valugan Boulder Beach. Looking at it made me miss surfing a lot. The waves looked like really good surfing waves. But as there were boulders everywhere, it seemed crazy to pull a stunt like that.

Valugan Boulder Beach Batanes

Valugan Boulder Beach

Valugan Boulder Beach Batanes

Valugan Boulder Beach

From the beach we went to pay a visit to the Basco Cathedral which is also known as the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, patroness of the Batanes province.

Basco Cathedral Batanes

Basco Cathedral

Basco Cathedral Batanes

The 10 Commandments in Ivatan

Basco Cathedral Batanes

Basco Cathedral Altar

After making my first-time-to-visit-a-church wish, we headed to the Vayang Ranch or the rolling hills of Batan Island. Upon seeing these hills (and even without knowing what they’re called), one couldn’t help but singing (or think of singing)  ♪The hills are alive ♫  with the sound of mu-sic ♫♪

Vayang Ranch Batanes

Vayang Ranch (rolling hills)

Vayang Ranch Batanes

Vayang Ranch (rolling hills)

We did some trekking, taking photos all the way. I tried in vain to do that perfect panorama shot that would capture the beauty that I was seeing but Apple was no match for it. That or I was a really lousy photographer.

Vayang Ranch Batanes

Vayang Ranch (rolling hills)

Finally, the peak of Mt. Iraya finally said hi!

Mt. Iraya Batanes

Mt. Iraya

It was now nearing sunset and we had to rush to the Basco Lighthouse on top of the Naidi Hills. The lighthouse was no longer operational so some students were using the place as practice grounds for their school activities.

Basco Lighthouse Batanes

Basco Lighthouse

Basco Lighthouse Batanes

Basco Lighthouse

Naidi Hills Batanes

Naidi Hills

While waiting for the sunset, we ordered some snack at the Bunker Café. As the name suggests, it was used as a bunker during the Japanese occupation.

Bunker Cafe Batanes

Bunker Cafe

Bunker Cafe Batanes

turon with butter sauce P35

Naidi Hills Batanes

waiting for the sunset

Finally, the sun was setting. The day ended and we all went back to DDD a little bit sunburnt, with very little to no battery (gadgets and people alike) but with our souls made a lot fuller by seeing and being in God’s creation.

Batanes is ♥

Batanes is ♥

 

to be continued…here.

March 1, 2013

***photos were taken using Iphone 5, watermarked in Lightroom

Summary of the day’s Expenses:

  • P40 airport breakfast (P20 1 sachet Kopiko brown sugar + P20 Monde mamon)
  • P20 terminal fee
  • P15 SEC fee
  • P25 half-kilo excess baggage (P50 per kilo)
  • P65 lunch
  • P170 pasalubong (5 pieces ref magnets)
  • P35 turon with butter sauce
  • P30 water
  • P600 van rental (total)
  • P800 tour guide (total)
  • P1800 per night DDD Habitat (P257.14 per pax)

Comments

Jayce Cairo

Jayce is a linguaphile who speaks four languages and currently works as a translator to finance her various interests. Scoring very high on “Openness to Experience” on the Big Five Personality Test, she is an avid globetrotter who aspires to retire at 35 and travel for the rest of her life.

18 Comments:

  1. How did you plan your itinerary? Are you doing it on your own (meaning you just rent the van and hire the tour guide) or you got a package?

  2. I’m reading the entire blog series in time for our Batanes Backpacking Escapades this weekend. Thanks for all the tips and useful information I’ve gathered here!

  3. We also stayed at DDD Habitat on our trip to Batanes last May. Batanes is just breathtaking with its seascapes and mountainscapes.

  4. wow eto ang isa kung pangarap mapuntahan para makapag relax at maakyat ang Mt. Iraya kasu yun nga lang may presyo ang pagbabakasyon dito pero sulit na sulit cguro ang pera mo dito…

  5. Flights are going down! Got it for Php7,917 with PAL for a December trip. 🙂

  6. Planning for my trip this coming May, magkano airfare ng NorthSky from tuguegarao to batanes? Thanks for thi blog 🙂

    • Hi Ligaya,

      When we booked the flight from Tuguegarao, we paid P10,200 round-trip. The flight going to Basco only allowed 5kg of baggage (hand carry + check in) and there was an excess baggage fee of P50/kg. But on the flight back, we were allowed 5kg of hand carry then 5kg for check in free. Same excess baggage fees apply. Have fun on your trip! ^___^

  7. Nice..ganda talaga sa Batanes…kailangan maka-tiyempo ng murang flight..

  8. Batanes is really breathtaking. You'll definitely like it there! Enjoy! 🙂

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