It was a little past 6am and there’s already a hive of activity at Basco Port when we arrived. We were looking for the person holding the ticket and found him sitting by the port ledge. “Punuan na po, me nakalista na wala pa dito. Malilista kop o kayo pero wag kayo magagalit kung di kayo makasakay (We’re full. We already have a list of people even if they’re not here. I can put you on wait list but don’t be angry if can’t ride)”. It wasn’t like this before last when I went to Itbayat. I can buy tickets at their office and that would assure me seat. After hearing that, I thought our chances were nil seeing all the cargo and locals pouring in. I was already devising a Plan B in mind if ever we can’t go to Itbayat. It’s a good thing Oggie decided to inspect the large M/V Misubi craft. It seems luck is still on our side.
I can’t believe it’s almost over. I woke up Sunday morning to see the group already up and ready to leave for the airport. Munching on their breakfast of tuna sandwich and a cup of coffee in hand, I also noticed their baggage clumped together at the reception area. I greeted them good morning. Everyone’s already prepared. I brought down the Selphy Printer for a last minute request to print. And as soon as we heard the Seair plane started to land, we hopped in our jeep and sped to the airport only a few minutes away.
Ever since the workshop started we’ve been waking up earlier than the sun. We were joking most of the time that we’ve managed to accomplish a lot before 9am (when one of the participant’s alarm would start ringing) than on a usual day. Even on the last day of our workshop, we had to wake up a tad earlier. We noticed that the days are longer here in Batanes, by 5am we could already see the sky light up. So by 4:40am, our jeep was already rolling towards Valugan Bay.
There were rain showers early morning before the sunrise, just as I was told. But I caught a glimpse of the full moon and the early morning light rays off the slopes of Mount Iraya through my room window. It is gonna be another great day I say. The group woke up early so we could catch the boat to Sabtang Island. Half an hour past 5, we dragged our sleepy heads to our jeep and rolled of to the port of San Vicente.
“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.
“You have to be on your own mettle with fishing, but you don’t really succeed at it until you calm down, accept what the weather’s going to give you” – Charles Rangeley, author
I’ve always thought that Batanes is rich in underwater life but it has never been really exploited. It’s remoteness (and pricey flights) really prevented a lot of people for coming here to gamefish. It’s really fortunate that on one of my assignments on Seair Inflight, I was able to observe what it’s like to fish here. Here are some excerpts from writer Chip Childers taken from his article “Desperate Angler”.
After a three day photo Assignment in Batanes, my companions left me on my lonesome in Basco. Learning I would be going to Batanes again, I asked if I can extend my stay there to explore. So I have around another 4 days to spare there. Oh I was originally planning to go back to Itbayat and explore that northernmost region of the Philippines but I chickened out when there was a heavy downpour that Friday morning that I have to postpone going there by boat and since the air strip there is being lengthened no planes could fly there. Not a good decision actually since the next few days became bright and sunny. More than to chill out, I decided to go around by biking Batan Island. Never knew that I would be biking at least 40km of Batan Island’s cliff side and coastal roads for at least 10 hours.