“I’ll climb this mountain as long as I still can” Bing exclaims as she gleefully trod the trail on the pasture lands of Ivana, Batanes, as we head to the summit of Mt Matarem. Carlotta Borromeo-Charbonney, or Bing, for short, is a native adventure-loving Ivatan who has learned to be independent from her family early in her life as she studied in Manila during college. Much more when she married her foreign husband who took her around the world and eventually settled in Switzerland. She makes it a point to go home every year in Batanes for family and be rooted to her home. We sure am glad Bing was there to join us for this climb.
“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.
I was supposed to go to Itbayat but the weather have other plans. Boat trips to the island was suspended for the next few days due to inclement weather and erratic waves. Since I had a flexible itinerary, I decided to take a detour to Sabtang Island instead. The smallest island of Batanes municipality is popular to day trippers from Batan Island. Personally, I would rather spend a night here. No matter how familiar I am with this island, I know I can find something new to do. For one, I haven’t stayed in Chavayan village yet. Or better, try the Old Procession Trail from Chavayan to Sumnanga. I have always been fascinated with that trail. I guess it’s about time I explore it.
I could feel the heaviness and strain in my body already. I’ve been hiking almost daily around Batanes for the past week. My stamina is dipping. Trudging early morning on the grassy slopes of Mt Riposed in the dark, I told myself I have reached my quota for challenging tramps such as this. I deserve a pat for having finally visited Rapang Cliffs the day before. While I want to explore more, Itbayat can really drill a hole on your wallet if you’re travelling alone. While I welcome my guide, Jojo’s suggestions on other places to visit. I had limited budget. So why not end my Itbayat sojourn at the island’s highest point.
The summer solstice extended the days in the country. But here in Batanes, the days felt a lot longer. 4:11 AM the sky was already showing shades of blue. The milky way slowly dissolves into the sky over at Mt Riposed. The purple glow brightens and unveils the landscape. We were at the sunrise point of Rapang Cliffs. I climbed on some sharp limestone rocks to get a better view near the cliffs. As soon as I saw the view behind the high rocks, my jaw dropped in amazement. I never thought Batanes could mesmerize me anew, but the landscape near the northern edge of the country just did.
In a span of a decade, I can say I am seeing how Batanes transform. Recently, accommodations are on the rise to cater to the increasing number of tourist in the country’s smallest province up north. While new ones are being built or old homes converted into homestay, a long-time establishment asserts its place in Basco. Pension Ivatan, a small hometel with a restaurant known to serve Ivatan cuisines is already considered an institution. I have seen the trend of dining options come and go in Batanes but this is one of those that has stayed ever since I remember.
Oh I am so looking forward to this. After days of hiking around Batanes, and recently a couple of daily hikes in Itbayat I was yearning for a place quiet to rest and recharge. I am excited to spend a night in Diura, an idyll fishing village in a quiet cove, east of Mahatao. I had been to Diura Fishing Village several times but haven’t tried spending a night. I wanted to take sunrise photos at the bay so being there would be advantageous. Our boat for Basco from Itbayat should have left already 2 hours ago. But I had to wait for 2 cows and 2 pigs on the boat. The sudden malfunction on the crane to hoist the cows added to the agonizing wait. I guess its just a little more time to endure for that much awaited repose.