"Ang talagang pinakaastig naman ay ang pagsusulat.
Pinipigilan ng panulat ang paglimot.”
- Vlad Gonzales
There are days I want to return to that place that has entirely captured my heart and soul, like no other. A place where time stands still, honesty is a norm, waves are larger than life, hills seem to roll on forever, and beauty is defined by its sheer simplicity. Batanes. Just a mere mention of her name and the feelings keep rushing back. A feeling I wouldn’t get tired of writing and sharing over and over again, even though my Batanes experience happened many years ago.
Located at the northern edge of the Philippines where the Pacific Ocean meets the China Sea, Batanes may be the smallest province (in terms of land area and population) of the country but perhaps the most beautiful one. It is the only province declared in its entirety as a protected area under the National Integrated Protected Areas Act of 1992.
Batanes is composed of three main islands: Batan, Itbayat, and Sabtang. Each island is uniquely gifted with breathtaking sceneries ranging from rolling hills, romantic light houses, rustic villages of vernacular stone houses to pristine beaches. Ivatans are basically friendly, hardworking and exceptionally honest. Houses are rarely locked except during typhoons.
Batan is the main island of Batanes, where the capital of Basco is located, along with neighboring municipalities of Ivana, Uyugan and Mahatao. Its tourist attractions include the Racuh a Payaman (Marlboro Country), Vayang Rolling Hills, Naidi Hills, Mt. Iraya, Fundacion Pacita, Basco and Tayid Lighthouses, Diura Fishing Village, Mahatao Idjang and Boat Shelter Port, Chawa View Deck, Valugan Boulder Beach, and Honesty Coffee Shop.
Itbayat, which is 10-minute plane-ride away from Basco (or 4-hour falowa-ride away), is the largest among the islands and the closest to Taiwan. It is a giant uplifted coral reef and research claims it's one of the world's largest. That’s why the island doesn't have a shoreline and the texture of its cliffs resemble a giant coral.
Sabtang, which is 30-minute falowa-ride away from Ivana, is the beach hide-away of Batanes. Its tourist attractions include Sabtang Lighthouse, Savidug and Chavayan Villages, Sumnanga, Little Hong Kong, Chamantad Cove and Tinyan Viewpoint, Morong Beach and Nakabuang Cave.
For some, forever is just a word.
For me, Batanes gave it a meaning.