“Who’s bag is this?” I wondered when I entered the igloo-inspired round-house lodging with a cogon roof dome by the Sabtang Lighthouse . I remembered reserving this space when I got in Sabtang Island and before I left for Chavayan. Then Nanay Adela came, one of the owners of the property. “Me dumating na babae nakiusap kung pwede maki stay din dito. Okay lang ba sayo? Birthday naman nya (There’s this lone girl who arrived and pleaded to stay here. Is it okay with me? It’s her birthday)” I guess it would be additional income for her. I really don’t mind staying with strangers since I had been to hostels before. She would be a welcome companion for this leg of the trip.
The 18-meter high Sabtang Lighthouse have long welcomed travelers to the island since 2006. It’s a prominent structure when approaching the Sabtang port. I have long wanted to visit the place but it’s barricaded inside a private property. Recently, the owners decided to convert their place into a homestay. How a government-owned lighthouse came to be built inside a private property is beyond me. I heard some controversies but I’m never sure. I decided not to bring it up with the property owners, the Faberes Couple.
The Sabtang Lighthouse is set on a beautiful idyllic hill overlooking the sea. A regular main house for lodging and another round house which was used as a karaoke bar now turned lodging as well is beside it. It is quite close to the port. About 5–10min walk. But since I came from Chavayan village, I had my tricycle drive me straight to the place.
By lunch time, I finally met Jess, the girl who insist on staying in the lodging with me since the other house is occupied by another couple. A brave and smart lady traveling on her own and made Batanes as her birthday trip. Quite trendy and seems well travelled to. Nanay Adela set up her own folding bed on the other side complete with beddings. She went on to her trip on the other side of Sabtang for Sumnanga that afternoon. I walked to town to get some supplies.
Search for the Secret Lagoon
Got some well deserved afternoon nap after waking up real early that day. As I was getting ready to explore the area, Jess came back and joined me on the search for the lagoon. Nanay Adela had been egging us to visit it but not to tell anyone. A narrow stairway leads to a small cove where she said we can walk on the rock cliff sides leading to the lagoon. But it was high tide so we decided to go over hill. We had trouble looking for the trail though but with a bit perseverance we found it. A patch of secluded beach. We looked for the lagoons we could actually dip in.
We had an interesting conversation on places and why people tend to travel alone while enjoying the waters and waves. Sometimes friends schedules doesn’t coincide. On planning, companions can be enthusiastic until the date comes near and no one would be available. We can’t wait for other people to come along if we want to travel now. As it was getting dark, we went back to the lighthouse lodging. I saw the skylight was enticing with purple colors so I went up the lighthouse. I was disappointed that it was littered with goat dung and not cleaned properly. Good thing the sunset over the hills seen from the top was a consolation.
Nanay Adela also prepare set meals by request and she prepared a sumptuous dinner for us guest. The sinigang was so memorable and also the fish fillet. Her desert of caramelized mango was also so good.
Milky Way Night
The only qualm I have about staying here is that it was bug infested. To many insects, probably coming from the cogon roofing. Even my citronella repellant doesn’t fully work. I wish she had mosquito net somehow to keep them away. How Jess was able to sleep was a mystery. It was a challenge for me that I just want to sleep outside instead.
I did get to sleep a bit until my alarm went on. I wanted to shoot the Milky Way so I was up already by 2:30 am. The hardest part for shooting the milky way here is to have the lighthouse on the foreground. I had to run around the hills looking for some angle. Carefully settled for on the nearby cliffs fronting the lighthouse. I did get some shots I liked until the milky dissolved into the sky.
Stayed up until sunrise. Woke Jess up as she wanted to see it as well. It was subtle but inspiring nonetheless. Nanay Adela came with some fried camote (sweet potato) for breakfast. Again we were eating al fresco at the back of the house. Enjoying the view. Nanay Adela tended to her white horse. It was touching to see that she treats him like a pet.
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.