“Batanes in June!? You gotta be kidding? You might get stranded when a storm comes.” Was some of the common reactions I get when I say we’ll be holding a Travel and Outdoor Workshop at the end of June. I couldn’t blame them since Batanes do have a reputation as a stormy region but that was true a few years ago. These last couple of years we noticed the change in weather patterns. Even Ivatan locals there say “Official storm season now starts sometime October” So early morning 24th of June, 2010. I along with 16 other people flew from Manila, braving whatever weather yet eager to set foot on the northern-most region of the Philippines – Batanes.
I can say it again and again that I would never tire of Batanes. Even as our plane started to land, I could feel the excitement and now taking along a group to experience its rugged landscapes, windswept hills and its kind people. A welcome banner courtesy of DDD Habitat greeted us as we arrived at the stone-walled Basco airport. The group regrouped as we waited for our bags and we were soon whisked away to our home base in Basco, DDD Habitat.
Breakfast served, room assignments given, and a little rest on the side, we soon started our lectures on the foundation of the workshop. For day 1, we discussed key concepts about Travel and Outdoor Photography, its scopes and differences, then moving to light and exposure, to more advance metering methods and using filters to balance and get the desired exposure on a scene.
After lunch, a little towards mid-afternoon, we started our tour on nearby sites. It was hot and humid in Basco and thought it was the perfect time give out each participant caps provided to us by Olympus to offer a little shade while we tour. First stop was Fundacion Pacita and Radar Tukon so participants could get to appreciate a 360 degree landscape of Batan Island with the imposing Mt Iraya and the scenic hedges opposite the mountain.
Stopping for a little halo-halo snack, we went to the Viang Rolling Hills for the sunset. Here also to apply the concepts on exposure, metering and use of filters to get the proper exposure on a scene. Of course, also to admire these rolling terrain under the setting sun. The moon already rose when we were about to leave, yet not letting any photo opportunity pass; we also shot some landscapes under the moonlight.
Dinner was at Pension Ivatan and they prepared a very nice setup of local cuisines. We feasted on lobsters, tatus (Coconut Crabs), ivatan rice (with turmeric), fern salads, tadyang ng baka, itbud (meatballs) dry adobo and more. It was a great first dinner.
There was a week-long celebration for Batanes and electrical power were being cycled through grids and directed to the town plaza. Unfortunately, we were on the power outage grid that night. I was a bit worried about the heat when sleeping and charging our batteries but good thing the staffs at DDD Habitat were able to turn their generator on and find extra fans until the power would be restored so participants could use the aircon. Water is not a surprising problem in Basco. I’ve stayed at 5 different places in Basco and I know water is a common problem in the area. Staff had to manually fetch buckets of waters from their reservoir that night so participants could freshen up since the water tank has depleted. Power was restored before midnight ending our first day in Batanes.
Backpack Photography wishes to thank Canon for lending the Selphy Printer and Lonely Planet Travel Photography Book prize, Eagle Creek for 2 Packable Duffle Bag Prize, Olympus for the participant caps and Sony for the Bloggie
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.