Mt. Irayat watches over the whole island of Batan
Batanes is one of the most elusive places to visit in the country. Booking a flight would require you 2-3 months of advance reservations since only one airline serve flights in the area. Despite the current steep price tag (4500 PHP one way via Asian Spirit as of this writing), flights are always fully booked especially during peak seasons of Decemebr to May. Even if you managed to get hold of a ticket, frequency is in the hands of the weather, if the storm-stricken region will allow you passage through the sky. Travel by the sea is out of question unless you dare to take on the waves spanning up to 3 stories high on seas where the Pacific Ocean and the China Seas meets. The distance taunts you like a Siren’s Song from Ulysses’s myths. Yet those who are fortunate enough to step on its islands will be rewarded with sweeping landscapes, experience with its rich culture and mingle with one of the most kindest people in the world.
The 8 seater Pacific Air plane
“So where’s the plane?” One of our companions asked while we were waiting for our flight at the Laoag Airport. There were a lot of stranded passengers there. It would seem that the 8 seater plane from Pacific Air (No longer operational as of this writing) has a day backlog of passengers going to Batanes. So we were delayed a day and had to stay at a sari-sari store cum ticketing office owned by the one managing the small airline as well. We were treated well, even toured around Laoag even up to the main control air port tower to see how everything there ticks just to keep us from getting bored or to compensate for the delayed flight. Fortunately early the next day, cramming on a small plane, that seems to be as fragile as an assembled toy, we flew of towards Batanes.
The patterned landscape of Batan Island, viewed from Radar Tukon
We touched down Basco at last. Soon we were whisked away to our home base, the Ivatan Lodge where we have a reservation courtesy of a companion’s friend. Together with that, we were referred to a tour guide, Juliet, who founded the Batanes Eco-Tourism group which holds guided tours around Batanes. And as measly budget-travellers we are, we managed to get the price to almost half the original price it is given after some pleading. Good thing Juliet didn’t scrimp on any of our itineraries while we toured the whole south of Batan Island.
View from Imnajbu
Imnajbu in Uyugan is where the local movie “Hihintayin kita sa Langit” was shot. Standing on a windswept hill will give you a 180 degrees view of the rugged country with its jutted craggy cliffs and impressive jutted limestones continuously battered by the seas. As if the were molding an artwork on the earth itself throughout time.
The hills are alive in Marlboro Country
The Marlboro Country is a vast stretch of greenery and hills where cows and horses graze around. The place is also windy and gives you amazing views of Batan Island’s shorelines.
The Ghost Baranggay at the Ruins of Songsong
Dubbed as a ghost town, the Ruins of Songsong, serves as a grisly reminder of the power of nature over man. After a tidal wave that hit the island of Batan in the 1950s, what is left now are clusters of stone walls that survived the wave.
View of Naidi Hills
The cold crisp air continuously blow while we went up on a road to take a look at the breath taking view at the Naidi Hills. The Basco lighthouse can be seen from afar and some world war bunkers as well blending in the rolling hills, rugged cliffs, mountain views and the Batanes Bay.
The Basco Lighthouse
Moving in closer, we went to one of the impressive man made structures in the island, the Basco lighthouse. I thought the design blended well in the environment.
Sundown in Batan
As the day is about to end, we stayed there by the hill beside the lighthouse where we could view the sea and the sunset to relax for another full day of adventure ahead. Since the place is only a walking distance from the town center itself where we are lodged we would climb this hill again and just relax while the sun goes down and greet the stars while we lie on the grass. Now whenever I see this photo of the lighthouse, in my mind I always go back to that spot in Batan Island. One of the most relaxing places I’ve been.
Ferdz Decena is an award-winning travel photographer, writer and blogger. His works has found print in publications such as Singapore Airlines’s Silver Kris, Philippine Airlines’ Mabuhay, Cebu Pacific’s Smile and Seair InFlight. He has also lent his expertise to various organizations like the Oceana Philippines, Lopez Group Foundation, Save the Children and World Vision, contributing quality images for their marketing materials.