If islands could speak, they would probably hate to be in the Philippines. Why with over seven thousand islands, it would be unbelievably hard to stand out. And while some have been known around the globe, some are nonchalantly nestled in their waters, secluded, yet breathtakingly beautiful. Isolation puts you in a state of rush and calm altogether, like standing on the rooftop of a skyscraper, or on a balcony over an orchestra. In these rare places are picturesque views, so majestic your mere presence would be ashamed. And what better way to achieve isolation, than to go as far as the edge of the Philippine archipelago! Here is a list of 10 things to do if you ever get the chance to visit the province of Batanes.
01 The 66 ft. tall Basco Lighthouse is one of the most popular landmarks in Batanes.A short hike on the Naidi Hills in Barangay San Antonio will get you there. For the fishermen, it is a guide for navigating at sea; and for you, a postcard-worthy photo op; take a picture or it didn’t happen!
02 Pray for good weather or say grace for a delightful escapade ahead at the Our Lady of the Immaculate Concepcion Cathedral. It is the oldest parish in the province, having been built in the 18th century. If you’re visiting around early August, then you’re just in time for the feast of its patron saint, Sto. Domingo de Guzman.
03 Batanes is known for its honest people. See for yourself at the Honesty Coffee Shop where no one is watching. Warm yourself with a nice cup of coffee, take what you need, and pay accordingly.
04 Take stroll around the community of Barangay Savidug where you will see the vernacular stone houses built by the Ivatans from over decades ago. Meet the locals in the village and to know more about their culture. Learn a word or two from the Ivatan dialect, or even better, learn one of their folksongs!
05 Feel like a real Ivatan by trying on their Kanayi and Vakul. a jacket and headgear made from vuyavuy leaves. These handicrafts are multi-purpose, keeping the Ivatans cool during the hot season, and warm when the cold winds come.
06 Visit the House of Dakay, the oldest stone house built in the province of Batanes. The House of Dakay was erected in 1877 through Bayanihan or volunteerism, and it strongly stands to present day. For over a century, it has withstood a number of typhoons and even an 8.3 magnitude earthquake back in 1918.
07 Marvel at the rolling hills of Racuh a Payaman. The waves of lush green hills juxtaposed to the waves of the blue sea will leave you awestruck speechless. It is also known as the Marlboro Country, as cows freely roam and graze on the vast grassland. The cool breeze, the sound of the sea, and the dewdrops on the grass—soak it all in.
08 Experience authentic Ivatan cuisine. Try their Uvud balls which are meatballs with quite a twist—banana trunk and flying fish! Also have a taste of the ocean with their Lumot soup made from seaweed, a staple in the Ivatans’ diet.
09 Go back in history at the Dipnaysuhuan Japanese Tunnel. It was built during World War II by the Ivatans who were then forced to work for the Japanese forces. The tunnel has 5 doors, a series of chambers, a lookout spot, and even a water reservoir.
10 Make the most out of the laidback atmosphere in Batanes by spending a morning at the Basco Marine Sanctuary. Be one with nature as you sunbathe along the shore, take a dip in the sea, or have a picnic if you wish.
The picturesque views are just the tip of the iceberg; their rich culture and warm people would leave you with a full heart by the time your trip is over. Now the rest of the country can go on keeping up with time; as for you, time can wait, as you soak up that glorious feeling of isolation in that rare place that is Batanes.