Why Batanes Should be on Everyone’s Bucket List

It almost didn’t happen. My friends and I agreed to go to Batanes, but our schedules and the available promo fare wouldn’t match. After several attempts, I decided to suggest the most workable date (meaning, those who are employed won’t need to take a long leave of absence) instead and get whatever plane fare was available. For me, it was a matter of “do we want to go, or don’t we?”

And so we went. For three days and three nights, we each shelled out roughly P21,500.00 inclusive of airfare, accommodations, food, package tours, and miscellaneous fees (pasalubong, terminal fees, etc.). It’s quite pricey, yes, and some people say we could have travelled to other destinations in Asia for that amount. True, but those places are not Batanes. They will never be.

My friends and I are all quinquagenarians (50 to be exact), wanting to enjoy each other’s company for as long as our aging bodies can still take the physical demands of traveling. We have been friends for more than 30 years, having gone through good and bad times together since high school. Spending time with each other then and now never changed — laughter is contagious and interminable.

Batanes weather was not as hot as we expected the entire time we were there from March 30 to April 2. It was windy, and the temperature cold enough not to make us sweat despite all the walking and the uphill climbing we did throughout. Apparently, the cold wind was coming from the melting ice from nearby Taiwan. So, there goes my wish to even out my atrocious tan on my arms.

We stayed in a place called Den Den Guesthouse, which I booked through AirBnb for P2,687 per head for three nights. A clean, comfy place complete with garage and kitchen looked after by a friendly native Ivatan who also served as our driver for our entire stay. The owner was the one who recommended the package tours and a good tour guide.

Our tour guide, though not exactly an Ivatan but a Batangas native, is proud to say that Batanes is crime-free and has almost zero corruption. Local residents don’t find the need to close their doors, and there was not a single piece of garbage anywhere. The people are as welcoming as their native home.

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Speechless over what lay in front of us.
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The Dipnaysuhuan Japanese Tunnel was, according to our guide, carved by Ivatans upon orders of Japanese soldiers. Here, they were able to hide from pursuing Americans. Apparently, the Ivatans were paid with false money.
great wall of Basco
Signs of progress everywhere as road constructions can be seen connecting hills to one another for easier access. I hope they stop from here and not build hotels and other buildings. I shudder at the thought.
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The House of Dakay, named after the nephew of the original owner, was built around late 18th century. It has withstood strong earthquakes where other houses fell to the ground. It is currently the oldest standing house in San Jose de Ivana in Batan Island.
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The renovated lighthouse of Basco.
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The grasses of Batanes’ hills are beautifully trimmed, as if it is well maintained by landscape artists. Our guide says it’s the cows, carabaos and horses that actually keep the grasses that way. This one is the popular Racuh a Payaman, known among tourists as Marlboro Country because of the pasturing horses seen by early foreign visitors.
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Down 150 steps from Chawa view deck.
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Rocks spewed by nearby Mt. Iraya scatter along the shore of Valugan Boulder Beach.
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A closer look at hedge rows (liveng).
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Picturesque Vayang (Rolling) Hills.
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The shoreline of Valugan Beach as seen from Vayang Hills.
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Waves crash against limestone rocks at White Beach.
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Standing over the edge of rocks and hills in Batanes is like getting a big hug from God.

Sad to say, we weren’t able to complete the three-day tour we wanted to take because of the weather. It rained on the third day, causing the coast guard to cancel all boats that would have taken us to Sabtang Island. The raging waves made it too risky for us to take the trip. On the bright side, this only gives us more reason to go back to the breathtaking islands of Batanes. And I definitely will, with or without anyone willing to spend for the trip, if it’s the last thing I check off the bucket list.

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