Batanes is rich with lessons for us tourists. Walking around the place, mingling with the Batanes folk one gets to look inward and reflect. One gets to think ----- it is as if we are hurled back in time, when life was so simple and we did not have as much wants as today.... We get to envy the Batanes folk in leading such simple, self- sufficient lives, not dependent on others.
On my last day at the island.... here are the places where I went....
VALUGAN BOULDER BEACH
this is on the east side of the island ..Valugan Bay is famous for its bouldered shore. It is said that the large rocks were remnants of volcanic eruptions from Mt. Iraya which were smoothened by the powerful pounding waves. Valugan Bay is perfect for picture taking.
DIURA FISHING VILLAGE
As I descended to the fishing village of Diura--- I saw a number of falowas parked on the beach. At low tide, when the sea begins to withdraw, local fishermen try to catch small fishes which are pushed by the giant waves onto the shall exposed stone beds which extends far into the sea. They call this type of fishing --MANAWOY .
These fishermen carry an unusual contraption were they put their catch in. With both hands-- are the ends of long shoots of bamboo poles, bound together by a net resting over their shoulders. I was told these fishermen would stand for hours with amazing patience and perfect stillness. They would pay attention when huge waves comes crashing into the exposed shore. When the bubbly froth of the breaking wave recedes, they cast their bamboo pole and pick up whatever may be caught in its net.
The Batanes folks depend mainly on small-scale farming and fishing for livelihood. A modest farmland planted with rootcrops, vegetablesand fruit trees is a common possession of the average family. A staple food in every Ivatan's dining table is " UVED ". It is a mixture of fish, camote, ube ( purple yam ), and other rootcrops molded in small balls and steamed.
I had time to have lunch the Ivatan way....
.... using a big leaf called BREADFRUIT leaf as a plate. In my plate was kinilaw na flying fish, boiled camote ( yam ), uvod and barbecued pork.
Here at Diura Fishing Village, I got to see how the Ivatans dry their dorados ( better known as mahi mahi ) and the flying fish.
Another form of fishing by these fishermen is riding the falowa , basically is a banca without outriggers and is designed to ride the waves. These boatmen are exceptionally skilled and fearless.
CHEWA VIEW POINT
The lighthouse is one of Batanes' landmarks. Set on the Naidi hill just on the outskirts of town, the lighthouse has a spectacular view of the sea, the dramatic cliffs and Mt. Irayat. The place was actually deserted, save for some cattle grazing. The lighthouse is no longer operating, but the building is open and you can clim all the way to the top. Though not in use, this lighthouse was in surprisingly good condition. The view from the lighthouse shows you the town of Basco sprawled below, and the sights of more hills and mountains in the distance.
This is where I together with other tourists had our barbecue dinner...
and sunset photo shoots...
My only plea for all of you planning to visit Batanes, please respect their values and practice honesty the way they do. Quite frankly, I don't want Batanes to turn into a tourist haven. I'd like Batanes to preserve its innocence and beauty and let only those with the love for nature and authentic culture reach these islands.
I was not able to go and visit Sabtang and Itabayat Island... maybe on my next trip back to Batanes I will make sure I go to these islands.
Batanes will remain on my wishlist... I'd love to go back there with a free and easy itinerary, different from what I had taken. I want to just laze around Fundacion Pacita sitting on top of a hill overlooking the Pacific Ocean and South China Sea....to catch a beautiful sunrise from the balcony of my room in Fundacion Pacita, or to lay a picnic mat at Racuh a Payaman ( Marlboro Hills ) with the sound of real music... and to watch the clouds go by as the sun sets on Vayang Hills and the Naidgi Lighthouse...
Paradise is exactly where you are right now...... only much better!!!
I would like to thank my guides in the island, Ivan Henares, Roger Doplito and Ed Delfin who were responsible for this exciting adventure... JOB WELL DONE!!