Once upon a time, in a land far, far away, there was a group of people cast in peaceful isolation on an island at the northernmost tip of the Philippines called Batanes. It was magical, like a fairy tale, and whimsical, like a dream.
Batanes is a place for solitary confinement where time magically moves in a slower pace. It is a place for all forms of detoxification and not for intoxication. Phone signals are intermittent and weak but the people’s spirits are as consistently strong as the waves that crash onto its shores, kissing its mesmerizing mountain ranges. The people of Batanes or Ivatans as they are called, are warm, friendly and gracious.
People who haven’t experienced their humble way of life may argue that their isolation is more of a curse than a blessing but trust me, these people have been blessed with peaceful hearts and contented souls far greater than we, urbanized souls can ever imagine. In Batanes, there is enough, plenty even, to go around for everyone to still live happily ever after.
I will go in the same order as my itinerary since it was nothing short of perfect, starting from the Northern moving to the Southern part of Sabtang Island in Batanes. Read on to find out what to see in Sabtang, Batanes.
Vayang Rolling Hills
Start strong and catch a breathtaking view of the West Philippine Sea and reinforce your claim on this magical force of nature. Prep your cameras for lots of blues and greens with grass-covered mountain ranges mixing harmoniously with different hues of blue waters and skies. Wonderful!
If I had joined Family Feud and was asked what the most closely associated word with Batanes was, I would answer, and you probably would too, lighthouse. The Basco Lighthouse is probably one of the most photographed lighthouses in the Philippines with its unique stone filled base and that tiny Ivatan house right beside it. Climb up and enjoy a scenic view of the rest of Batanes.
Cafe du Tukon
The food they serve is from farm to table food so it was organic and super fresh. The place is run by the Abads of Fundacion Pacita so it was tastefully designed and artistically filling too. Be sure to visit the art gallery and feast your eyes on the art pieces by the great Pacita Abad at the lower floor to have your fill either as an appetizer or meal capper. Cafe du Tukon sits on a mountain so the place was quiet and peaceful and the view, splendid. Just, splendid. Table for two?
Kick off your southern expedition with a trip to the Chawa View Deck. They say you get can get a view of Taiwan all the way from this deck so it was, suffice it to say, a spectacular view of the West Philippine Sea. Bring binoculars if you must, but even without them, you will enjoy this majestic view like you were wearing rose colored lenses nonetheless. Trust me.
Batanes Blank Book Archive
This quaint and quiet corner secluded in the heart of Mahatao stays in tune with Batanes’ introspection vibe. Here, you are invited to write your thoughts about Batanes and even your messages to the world, uh, the universe rather, certainly not to be left unheard and soon to be picked up by a stranger who’s similarly smitten by the charm and wonder of Batanes, only at a different time. Now, isn’t that exciting? I wrote mine in book 146, beautiful stranger.
Tayid Lighthouse or the lighthouse from the south, though a lot less photographed, is as photogenic as its northern counterpart with its unique rustic charm and so much more. You know how they say Batanes is like green and hilly New Zealand is so many ways, this, in my opinion is this statement’s most accurate reference. Prepare to just sit, stare, lounge and just listen to the wind, the sea and the crowd go… moo!
I would think this entry may come as a surprise to many Batanes locals and lovers alike just like how I came to know about this place. And what a pleasant surprise! We were on our way back from a short-lived, badly planned and what was supposed to be a round trip from the northern to the southern part of Batanes in our rented single-gear basket bikes (don’t try this at home unless you’ve finished a Full Iron Man race) when we came across this gem sitting quietly just after coming off the National road from the Town Plaza. Oh, their chicken curry was heavenly! And I don’t even like chicken curry. That’s how good it was! Their desserts, especially their chocolate cake was to die for, but certainly not of diabetes. It was soft, moist and not too sweet, just like how we all want our sinful chocolate cakes! Five stars!
Last but certainly not the least, Marlboro Hills. Oh, pictures just do not do justice to how beautiful and breathtaking the view from this place is. Julie Andrews must have been singing about these hills. They were so alive, green, sprawling and opened-up to a refreshing view of the ocean with its waves crashing into the shores creating white ripples that complemented the blues and the greens, they made perfect photo accents like the clouds. The smile on my face should tell you how happy I was to be right there in that moment. Dius mamajes, Batanes!
What are your must-see sites in Batanes? Tell us below!
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(All article photos courtesy of the author; Featured image by Shutterstock)