Batanes, you take my breathe away! A trip to Batanes is something you’ll have to do at least once in your lifetime. The country’s northernmost province is one of the most sought-after tourism frontiers, gifted with its unique blend of breathtaking scenery, natural beauty, and well-preserved culture! North Batan consists of the whole of Basco–from the picturesque Valugan boulder beach, Vayang rolling hills, and Basco lighthouse, to the Mount Carmel Chapel, Fundacion Pacita, the Japanese tunnels, and a weather station with a 360 view of the island! Check out these awesome Batanes scenes from our northern Batan island tour… We highly suggest hiring Roger Doplito of Bashi Tours as your tour guide. He is very knowledgeable and can answer anything from history, culture, and nature, down to the local dishes of the Ivatans. Bashi Eco-Tours & Adventure Batanes, Batan – Sabtang – Itbayat Mobile: +63 999 990-7547, +63 929-6418829 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Guide: Roger Doplito We arrived on our flight with PAL (Philippine Airlines) at Basco Airport at around 7:30am, where our guide Kuya Roger fetched us in his Ivatan inspired truck. The ride depends on the number of people on the trip. For our group of four, it was a local truck with a cogon roof. We enjoyed the native touch, cool breeze, and fantastic views from behind. Tricycles are also available for smaller groups who want a faster and cheaper way of touring the island. We first had breakfast at Pension Ivatan where we were briefed regarding the upcoming tours of the three top islands–Basco, Sabtang, and Itbayat. After that, we were off to check-in at our inns. The north tour starts at 2pm and ends after the sunset. It includes visits to Valugan boulder beach, Vayang rolling hills, Basco lighthouse, Mount Carmel Chapel, Fundacion Pacita, the Japanese tunnels, and a weather station with a 360 view of the island! Breakfast at Pension Ivatan Pension Ivatan opened its doors in 2008 and has since been serving authentic Ivatan specialty cuisine. The wife/cook is from Tuguegarao who married an Ivatan husband. Breakfast Medley (P1000 good for 5). Tocino, beef tapa, longganisa, paco, fried flying fish, scrambled eggs, fried kamote, garlic rice, and brewed coffee. What makes the beef in Batanes good is because the cows are all grass fed. While the pigs are mostly fed with root crops (ube, kamote, gabi). You can taste the meat is organic. You should also try their bestseller, the Ivatan platter consisting of kinilaw, kaliente (beef skin), inihaw na liempo, lobtsers, coconut crab, fern salad, grilled flying fish, tuna, uvod (banana trunk ), fern salad, vunes (gabi stalk), and beef tapa. PAGASA Weather Station The weather station offers a fantastic 360 view of the whole island! If you’re curious, there are also a few weather apparatus here that Roger can teach you a thing or two about. Fundacion Pacita The best place to stay, hands down, is at Fundacion Pacita. This non-profit lodge boasts of its charming rooms with picturesque vistas. Originally built as a home studio for the late Ivatan artist, Pacita Abad, the hilltop house has been converted with gallery-inspired rooms (P20,000+/night). Pacita Abad was known for her larger-than-life, colorful mural paintings. One of her last works was painting a modern pedestrian bridge called The Alkaff Bridge (it crosses the Singapore River at Robertson Quay) with playful colors. When she passed away, the husband, Jack Garrity, gifted the house to the siblings who decided to convert it into a bed and breakfast facility where all the proceeds go to projects for education, heritage conservation efforts, and livelihood projects. Fundacion Pacita has 12 rooms located on top of a cliff with a 270-degree view of the sea, mountains, and the sky. The Fundacion is always mistaken for an old house, but it’s actually only about 15 years old. It has a country-style charm in a lush garden setting. Its signature terrace rooms with blue chairs look out peacefully towards the sea. Mount Carmel Chapel The Abads of Basco wanted to make a small chapel for the small community of Tukon. Designed by Butch Abad, it incorporates Ivatan architecture, using the massive stones only found in Valugan Boulder Beach. The inside of the church has a ceiling with al fresco paintings, showing the 6 churches of each municipality along with each respective patron saint. What’s unique about the paintings of the patrons is that they resemble the local faces of the Ivatan people. Too bad the painting was temporarily removed because of the damage caused by the typhoon. Fun Fact: Most people think the reason for the rushed construction of the church was to be in time for the wedding of their eldest daughter in 2007. But it was, in fact, meant for the community of Tukon. Itbud ljang A hilltop fortress where the early Ivatans climbed to defend themselves against invaders. Maydangeb Beach Maydangeb Beach is a cove with creamy white sand and turquoise waters perfect for picnics, beach combing, and just plain relaxation while enjoying the refreshing sea breeze. Dipnaysupuan Japanese Tunnel Dipnaysupuan Japanese tunnel is a five-linked tunnel located in Tugon Hills. It served as the hideout for Japanese soldiers during the Japanese occupation until the end of World War II. Inside you’ll see a bunker serving as a lookout spot, a number of chambers, and a water reservoir. We had flashlights on the way in and also had to do a few duck walks. Chanpan/Valugan Boulder Beach Chanpan/Valugan Boulder Beach is famous for the remarkable stretch of polished boulders and roundish rocks along the coast. Such is said to have formed from the eruption of Mt. Iraya in 400AD and smoothed over time from the waves hurdled relentlessly by the Pacific Ocean. The name Valugan comes from the Ivatan word meaning “east”, as the rock bay rests on the eastern edge of the island. This is my favorite scenic spot on the tour. Basco Rolling Hills Basco Rolling Hills offers a spectacular view of the luscious green waves of rolling hills meeting with the astral-blue tides of the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea). On top of the hill is the best spot for an unhampered view of the three major islands of Batanes. Basco Lighthouse The best view of the town of Basco can be seen from the iconic lighthouse. The imposing Mt. Iraya is the perfect backdrop for the charming little town of Basco. Overall, Batanes has exceeded our expectations! Despite the gloomy weather, it was still a sight to behold! It’s wonderful to know that even with the influx of tourists through the years, Batanes has been able to successfully preserve its magical beauty. Complete your Batanes adventure with one of the best local tour guides who will personally conduct the tours. Roger Doplito of Bashi Tours is very reliable and replies quickly by text message. There were no dull moments when we were with him, and it made our Batanes trip extra special. You have to forgive him if takes too long for him to reply to messages online because of the recent typhoon that severely affected internet access in the whole of Basco. Environmental Fees: -Mahatao, Batanes Office of the Municipal Mayor Environmental Fee: P50/person -PTO-Banates Environmental Fee: P350/person
Bashi Eco-Tours & Adventure Batanes, Batan – Sabtang – Itbayat Mobile: +63 999 990-7547, +63 929-6418829 Email: email@example.com Guide: Roger Doplito
Live an Awesome Life,
ABI of Team Our Awesome Planet Disclosure: We paid for our own tours and fees. Our flight to Batanes was a project sponsored by Philippine Airlines. I wrote this article with my biases, opinions, and insights. P.S. For something more familiar to your taste buds, you can head over to Casa Napoli for the best pizza in town!