PHILIPPINES ( Batanes)

I have been to Batanes twice. During the first time we visited the lighthouse, the Japanese tunnel,  Radar Tukon (abandoned US weather station), a particular  beach with many big rounded stones on it in Basco,  Marlboro Country, ruins along  Songsong Bay  and the fishing village  of  Diura,  houses of Secretary Butch Abad  and sister artist Patricia Abad,    all in the Batan Island.

 

During the next day, I took the 12-minute plane ride to Itbayat, the last inhabited island  as far  as I know.

 

On the third day, we visited Sabtang Island  wherein I was able to witness  rows of authentic stone houses. I learned  that the  headpiece called vakul  originates from the plant  called voyaboy which could be  found only in that island.  I came to learn about the existence of idjang (large rocky hill) where villages were built during pre-Hispanic times because of its protective features against the would be enemies.

 

Although we were supposed to leave for Manila during the fourth  day, the flight was cancelled due to inclement weather.  Instead of spending our time remorsing,  I together  with office staff  Lotlot  and a native boy decided  to climb  the 1,036 meter high Mt.Iraya.  It was a muddy uphill climb and that I was able to reach  only two-thirds (2/3) of the mountain notwithstanding the push and pull of my companions.

 

Though we did not reach the peak, I nevertheless  found achievement thereto considering my age and weight.

 

During the second trip, it was virtually a repetition  of the first visit  to the Batan Island except that I had to visit the new  structure being built. I was able  also to have a  glimpse of the  Honesty Place where nobody  is  looking after the store and that it would rely purely on your honesty to unilaterally transact business. The only time when you will contact the owner is when  the amount that you would be paying exceeds  the amount of the merchandise  in order for you to get your change.

 

I was able to visit the  windglider  and another idjang.  I learned also  on the existence of prehispanic outline in stone in the shape of a boat  being used as  burial ground, which I hope to visit in my next trip.

 

I learned also that the residents (male and female) of the place are heavy drinkers of Red Horse Beer and Ginebra San Miguel Gin.

 

When typhoon signal number 1 was announced  early in the morning over the radio and television, I though that  our flight  back to Manila would once again be cancelled. I said, “Oh, no, not again.”

 

I prayed  hard  to high Heavens  and my prayer was heard as the intended cancellation of the flight was set aside  because the typhoon would be  coming late in the afternoon.

 

I agree with the observation  of  the Lonely Planet  that it is not a tropical island but  it is more associated  with the Scottish Islands particularly with the green mountains and the beach formations.  For those who are lovers of nature and have luxury of time because of  frequent flight cancellations, this place is a must.

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