Ironwulf En Route - The Philippines Travel and Photography Blog » Batanes http://www.ironwulf.net Adventure Travel and Photography in the Philippines and Beyond Wed, 04 Mar 2015 14:08:35 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Batanes: Postcards from Batan Island http://www.ironwulf.net/2012/07/05/batanes-postcards-from-batan-island/ http://www.ironwulf.net/2012/07/05/batanes-postcards-from-batan-island/#comments Thu, 05 Jul 2012 00:30:02 +0000 http://www.ironwulf.net/?p=6820 No doubt the most visited island in Batanes is Batan Island, the landing point for any plane coming in this northernmost region in the country. The provincial capital, Basco is also located in the island making it as a starting point for exploration. I have written extensively about the places in Batan Island already so I won’t be repeating much aside from some updates and new site takes from our recent Backpack Photography 3-Island Hop in Batanes. But don’t get me wrong, even if I’ve been here several times already, the views still never fails to amaze me.

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The moody morning landscape at Diura

The moody morning landscape at Diura

No doubt the most visited island in Batanes is Batan Island, the landing point for any plane coming in this northernmost region in the country. The provincial capital, Basco is also located in the island making it as a starting point for exploration. I have written extensively about the places in Batan Island already so I won’t be repeating much aside from some updates and new site takes from our recent Backpack Photography 3-Island Hop in Batanes. But don’t get me wrong, even if I’ve been here several times already, the views still never fails to amaze me.

Capturing the sunset at Vayang Rolling Hills

Capturing the sunset at Vayang Rolling Hills

The road overlooking Naidi Hills

The road overlooking Naidi Hills

Day 1, arriving from our Island Hop in Sabtang Island, we went to one of my favorite spots in Batan Island, the Rolling Hills of Vayang. I’m always amused with the look as first timers are captivated by the scenery. The scene is so vast I think no picture can really justify the immensity one feels being there on the spot.

The Sto Domingo de Basco Cathedral fully restored after a decade

The Sto Domingo de Basco Cathedral fully restored after a decade

Day 3, arriving from our exciting overnight Island hop in Itbayat Island, we now visit the western portion of Batan Island for the sunset. But before that we passed by Basco Church, newly painted and restored to its former glory. It’s the first time I’ve seen Sto Domingo de Basco Church free from scaffolds in and out the church. When the church was damaged back in 2002 from an earthquake, it has been in constant restoration. Finally after 10 years, the scaffolding was removed last March 2012 and it looks brand new but still retaining the old qualities of its original limestone church. The church is also now elevated into a Cathedral status.

Mt Iraya seen from Chadpidan boulder beach

Mt Iraya seen from Chadpidan boulder beach

West of Batan Island is the often overlooked site of Chadpidan. This large boulder beach mirrors the image of its more popular eastern counterpart, the Valugan Boulder Beach. It has the same qualities except for different views. The southern rock formations in the horizon at Chadpidan reminds me of Lakay-lakay in Claveria.

Sunset and soft waters at Chadpidan

Sunset and soft waters at Chadpidan

Morning of day 4 finds us driving before the sun came up in Diura Fishing village as the start of our Batan Island tour. While the onset of rain made itself felt with a light drizzle, we pushed through with the sunrise shoot hoping to get some dramatic moody shots of the weather in turmoil. Breakfast was always a delight at the overlooking dining area at Monica’s Cottage there.

Some BP participants at Diura

Some BP participants at Diura

The nearby Mahatao Lighthouse was literally a stop to just chill, lie back on the grass and enjoy the view. There’s nothing more relaxing with cool fresh wind blowing up high on a hill overlooking Diura Fishing village below.

Chill time at the Mahatao lighthouse

Chill time at the Mahatao lighthouse

There’s the usual stops like the playful slopes of Marlboro Hills, the windswept and iconic hill of Alapad in Imnajbu and then marveling at the crashing waves and steep cliffs at Chanarian Viewdeck. It was a full day but we left time for our participants to have some free time to shop and explore on their own.

Some participants exploring Marlboro Hills

Some participants exploring Marlboro Hills

Our Batanes 3-Island Hop closed that evening with an awesome dinner prepared by the staff at DDD Habitat. It was a night of sharing our favorite images during the trip and recollecting some unforgettable moments and sights that would be clearly be engraved in our memory.

Getting friendly with the goats at Alapad, Imnajbu

Getting friendly with the goats at Alapad, Imnajbu

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Batanes: Sunrise at Mt Karoboboan and Sidetrip to Paganaman Port http://www.ironwulf.net/2012/06/28/batanes-sunrise-at-mt-karoboboan-and-sidetrip-to-paganaman-port/ http://www.ironwulf.net/2012/06/28/batanes-sunrise-at-mt-karoboboan-and-sidetrip-to-paganaman-port/#comments Thu, 28 Jun 2012 00:45:14 +0000 http://www.ironwulf.net/?p=6792 We marvelled at the stars, shining plentifully at the sky. Something we don’t see in an urban night. We played around with the stargazers on our phones figuring out the constellations, the position of the stars in the wee hours of the morning while waiting for our dump truck service to arrive. Despite the gizmos in our hands, there was no electricity in Itbayat at 4am as it runs from 12noon to 12 midnight only. We were headed to one of the mountains in the island, Mt Karoboboan. Usual program from tourism here is they take people to the peak at sunset. But since we didn’t have time the day before, we decided to go on a sunrise.

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Tree and Sun at Mt Karoboboan

Tree and Sun at Mt Karoboboan

We marvelled at the stars, shining plentifully at the sky. Something we don’t see in an urban night. We played around with the star-gazer on our phones figuring out the constellations, the position of the stars in the wee hours of the morning while waiting for our dump truck service to arrive. Despite the gizmos in our hands, there was no electricity in Itbayat at 4am as it runs from noon to 12 midnight only. We were headed to one of the mountains in the island, Mt Karoboboan. Usual program from tourism here is they take people to the peak at sunset. But since we didn’t have time the day before, we decided to go on a sunrise.

The hut at the viewpoint

The hut at the viewpoint

Mt Karoboboan stands only at 500 277meters above sea level. A dump truck would be able to take us to the peak. The ride took us less than an hour, enough to catch the sunrise at the summit. There was a fenced area that looked like a nice garden with a platform made of wood as a lookout point. There’s also a nice hut where people can have a picnic. It was really charming.

An HDR of Tina shooting using my mobile phone

An HDR of Tina shooting using my mobile phone

It was one of those places where the view looks really amazing but capturing it was another thing. We challenged our participants to look for a good foreground to lead the eyes to the scenic sunrise. We also had a breakfast with neatly packed meals wrapped in tipoho leaves. Inside was a hefty serving of rice with pork, fish and with egg. We happily ate at the hut with the cold wind and calming surroundings at the peak of Mt Karoboboan.

Tree, mountains, sun layers study

Tree, mountains, sun layers study

We got back at Cano’s Lodge and got ready to make our way to Chinapoliran Port for our boat back to Batan Island. Since there was still time, we made a side-trip to Paganaman Port. A favourite spot of mine as we could see the fishermen here lift their boats on and off the steep platform of the port. There were also fishermen just hanging by the cliffs waiting for their prey to take a bite at their line.

Putting the boat to sea

Putting the boat to sea at Paganaman Port

The ride back to Batan Island was a lot smoother than our first ride. We got a lot of floor space to lie around and sleep. It was also much faster that we arrived just ahead of time in the afternoon. Again, even after being in Itabayat several times already, I felt that there are still more that I haven’t seen. Like the islands seen north of the islands. Another excuse to go back again.

Line fishing along the cliffs

Line fishing along the cliffs

 

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Batanes: Awed at Torongan Cave and Hills, Itbayat Island http://www.ironwulf.net/2012/06/25/batanes-torongan-cave-hills-itbayat-island/ http://www.ironwulf.net/2012/06/25/batanes-torongan-cave-hills-itbayat-island/#comments Mon, 25 Jun 2012 03:28:40 +0000 http://www.ironwulf.net/?p=6783 The view of the Pacific Ocean, the deep jagged cliffs from the island where I’m standing and Dinem Island, cutting through the ocean like a knife's edge was stupendous. Here at the farthest inhabitable, northern island of Itbayat, I’m just lost for words on how I can describe the beauty I’m seeing from Torongan Hills. If I had my way, I can spend an idle afternoon here just looking at the sea and passing clouds. It was one of those moments that I’m so proud of the Philippines for having places like this.

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Literally breath taking view at Torongan Hills Itbayat Island

Breath taking view at Torongan Hills Itbayat Island

The view of the Pacific Ocean, the deep jagged cliffs from the island where I’m standing and Dinem Island, cutting through the ocean like a knife’s edge was stupendous. Here at the farthest inhabitable, northern island of Itbayat, I’m just lost for words on how I can describe the beauty I’m seeing from Torongan Hills. If I had my way, I can spend an idle afternoon here just looking at the sea and passing clouds. It was one of those moments that I’m so proud of the Philippines for having places like this.

the 1.5km easy hike in a short cut to the cave

the 1.5km easy hike in a short cut to the cave

We took a dump truck to take us to the jump-off point to Torongan Cave which is about an hour away. There was a 1.5 km hike towards the cave entrance.  The hike itself was pretty scenic amongst surreal growth of trees and vegetation parallel to a stream. It wasn’t also that difficult along gradual slopes and careful descent on rock boulders. In about an hour, we reached the huge cave entrance. It looks spectacular with dramatic stalactites adorning the mouth of the cave.

Finding the mouth of Torongan Cave

Finding the mouth of Torongan Cave

Our participants carefully making their way down the cave grounds

Our participants carefully making their way down the cave grounds

We carefully made our way down the ground of the huge cavern and felt the cold draft of air coming from the other side. There were walls of stones there which our guide said were already there when they found them. Probably signs of ancient dwellings believed to be from Austronesians who migrated here about 4000 years ago coming from Taiwan. We reached a high mound inside the cave where we could view a large opening with the view of the sea. It feels like we were inside a whale’s belly looking out from its mouth.

the wall blocks are signs of Ancient Settlement in the cave

the wall blocks are signs of Ancient Settlement in the cave

The cave opening leading to the sea

The cave opening leading to the sea

From the cave mouth we had a very short climb to reach the hills on top of the cave and the scene seemed to have been transformed into an epic backdrop of a fantasy movie up rugged mountains where dragons fly and Vikings clash swords. It was amazing up there.

Heading to the hills

Heading to the hills

Participants near the cliff edges with Dinem Island

Participants near the cliff edges with Dinem Island

Burial sites from the ancient settlements can also be found here. There were about 7 burial mounds there shaped like a boat pointing to the sea. Some are already hard to distinguish from the regular rocks and the remains were no longer found there. The seafaring Austronesians believed that these boat-shaped graves would lead their departed spirits to the other life safely.

Itbayat Island is one big coral island

Itbayat Island is one big coral island

At the Burial grounds

At the Burial grounds

It was already late in the afternoon when we started our way back. Most of us can’t help but look back at the scene that has captured our senses. We could see the hills and the cave mouth from afar. We marched on the dying light, yes that rough boat ride coming here was now a side memory. Seeing this place was worth the daunting sea journey.

Heading back

Heading back

Join us on our next 3-Island Hop Backpack Photography Photo Tour in Batanes this August. Check out www.backpackphotography.net

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Batanes: Changing Winds, Barf Bags and Sailing to Itbayat http://www.ironwulf.net/2012/06/21/batanes-changing-winds-barf-bags-and-sailing-to-itbayat/ http://www.ironwulf.net/2012/06/21/batanes-changing-winds-barf-bags-and-sailing-to-itbayat/#comments Thu, 21 Jun 2012 00:30:36 +0000 http://www.ironwulf.net/?p=6773 Up to the last-minute, we weren’t sure if we’re pushing through Itbayat on our second day. While having dinner the previous night at the Bunker in Naidi Hills, we watched how the wind threw monobloc chairs and tables making us think of a backup plan in case we don’t push through. But waking up the next day, our guide Joaquin, excitedly informed us and showed in the internet how the wind has slowed down and changed direction. That means we can push through with our Itbayat. So the group got ready for the overnight stay on one of the largest upheaved coral in the world, Itbayat Island.

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Waiting at Batan Port

Waiting at Batan Port

Up to the last-minute, we weren’t sure if we’re pushing through Itbayat on our second day. While having dinner the previous night at the Bunker in Naidi Hills, we watched how the wind threw monobloc chairs and tables making us think of a backup plan in case we don’t push through. But waking up the next day, our guide Joaquin, excitedly informed us and showed in the internet how the wind has slowed down and changed direction. That means we can push through with our Itbayat. So the group got ready for the overnight stay on one of the largest upheaved coral in the world, Itbayat Island.

Loading in the cargo

Loading in the cargo

Little Ivatan girl having fun while waiting at the port

Little Ivatan girl having fun while waiting at the port

The port was busy with cargos being loaded into the boats and a good number of passengers waiting for the signal to board. It was a holy week so a lot of people were on their way back to Itbayat to spend their vacation there. It was an interesting site to see tons of items being loaded into the deeper hull of the ship. The signal came to board. Life vest were mandatory even if I don’t like how suffocating it feels to wear them. Women and children were first to board. We requested that the group sit close at the back where we have less chance to get seasick or so I thought.

Our group donning life vest

Our group donning life vest at the boat to Itbayat

Itbayat Island is about 21 nautical miles away from Batan Island, the trip would take around 3 hours or so depending on the waters and boarding-off the usual Chinapoliran Port west of Itbayat Island. Going into the first hour of the ride, I thought I have already experienced the rockiest boat ride I had when I first went to Itbayat island. But this one takes the cake as the falowa (or tataya as Itbayaten called their boats) swayed sporadically on the wild open sea. We were like a speck of dirt on a washing machine on a spin. Naturally, many couldn’t stomach the motion and gave in to barf.

At Mauyen Port

At Mauyen Port, south of Itbayat Island

We reached Mauyen Port two hours after. We were told most passengers would alight from here since the waters were rough it wouldn’t be possible. It was a sigh of relief even finally seeing the island on the horizon. An hour more in those agitated waters I would have already gave in to the barf bag. It was also my first time at this south most port of the Island. It turns out we had to do some zigzagging vertical hike to reach the top on a dirt trail. I think that was much better than getting on that boat again.

We have to climb that?!

We have to climb that?!

Our pick-up truck service would arrive in an hour. Some rested under the shade, some explored frantically upon stepping on this new land. Me, I was just glad I’m back on this rock. The site of the vast open land and hills just overtook me again.

A glimpse of Itbayat

A glimpse of Itbayat vast raw landscape

Join us on another 3-Island Hop Photo Tour in Batanes this August. More details at www.backpackphotography.net

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Batanes: Postcards from Sabtang Island http://www.ironwulf.net/2012/06/18/batanes-postcards-from-sabtang-island/ http://www.ironwulf.net/2012/06/18/batanes-postcards-from-sabtang-island/#comments Mon, 18 Jun 2012 00:30:58 +0000 http://www.ironwulf.net/?p=6765 It was the peak season alright for Holy Week in Batanes and our trip almost  didn’t push through but thank God (and Seair) for helping us secure our flights. Albeit shortened, we made do with our time, maximizing moments to take photos and enjoy the scenery. I’ve written about Batanes so many times already in this blog so I’ll just share some memorable takes during our recent Backpack Photography 3-Island Photo Tour. These ones from the small but charming Sabtang Island.

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The Nakabuang Natural Arc

The Nakabuang Natural Arc, one of the distinct landmarks in Sabtang

It was the peak season alright for Holy Week in Batanes and our trip almost  didn’t push through but thank God (and Seair) for helping us secure our flights. Albeit shortened, we made do with our time, maximizing moments to take photos and enjoy the scenery. I’ve written about Batanes so many times already in this blog so I’ll just share some memorable takes during our recent Backpack Photography 3-Island Photo Tour. These ones from the small but charming Sabtang Island.

Navigating feet at the boat to Sabtang

Navigating feet at the boat to Sabtang

Day one finds us scampering to Sabtang Island once we set foot in Batanes. From our ever reliable lodging and friends at DDD Habitat Batanes, we were whisked away to Ivana Port where our boat was already waiting. The 45-plus so minutes ride was smooth. Our boatman is already so used to these waters he can navigate over them using his feet.

A familiar face in Savidug Village

A familiar face in Savidug Village

Savidug Village was our first stop and familiar faces pops up the corner. Like this old lady Aling Lucy who was found her way to our photos before inside her house, still smiling after all this time.

St Dominic Church and a stone house in Savidug

St Dominic Church and a stone house in Savidug

The white-washed and petite St Dominic Church stood out of the green and blue sunny backdrop that it looked bigger than it actually is. But more attention to the stone house beside it as participants took some posterity shots there. The stone house villages in Batanes were nominated before for UNESCO but unfortunately the village won’t make the list because the new houses and structures no longer follow the traditional methods stone houses were built. Even the restoration was inappropriate. Sad but it’s still a charming and quiet seaside village.

Even the mid-day sun won't stop us from enjoying Tiñan Hills

Even the mid-day sun won’t stop us from enjoying Tiñan Hills

Probably one of my favourite spot in Sabtang is the Tiñan Hills Viewpoint in Chamantad, it never fails to take me or our guests drool in amazement. The peak height of the sun was not enough to stop us from venturing over the hills and enjoy the view.

The oldest man living in Sabtang

The oldest man living in Sabtang Mang Marcelo with her daughter Ate Fely

Mang Marcello still busy with his basket making

Mang Marcello still busy with his basket making

The cove-sheltered town of Chavayan is usually our rest stop. This picturesque village is also home to the oldest man residing in Sabtang, Mr Marcello Hostallero. Born July 16, 1907, he doesn’t look any close to the age of 105. He is still alert, keen on his senses and sharp on his craftwork. The secret to his longevity? Eating healthy, good exercise and good sex! Marcelo has 15 children, got married at the age of 21 with his wife at the age of 14.

Tubho leaves and coffee

Tubho leaves and coffee

Another secret to his long life are these special Tubho leaves the residents drink as part of their daily diet. They make coffee out of these leaves which they harvest in far-flung mountainous area of the island. It may be the nutrients in these leaves or the combination of the long walk to procure them that has contributed to their long life-span. Ate Fely, his daughter, at her age is strong still despite being a grandmother already.

Ate Fely with her vakul

Ate Fely with her vakul headwear and basket

Our lunch stop is at the beautiful beach of Nakanmuan with its distinct arc. It was a struggle to head out to shoot already as our lunch of crabs, lobster and unforgettable Luñes adobo was worth taking time to savour. But as soon as we were satiated, it was time to fill our senses on this one of a kind spot in Sabtang.

lovely trees in Nakabuang beach

lovely trees in Nakabuang beach

We originally planned to stay overnight here but with our trip cut short of 2 days, we only had to spend a day here. Oh yeah, also noticed this new option of travel in Sabtang Island if one is exploring on your own or a couple, this powerful tricycles with roofs made of cogon are now available for hire. Sabtang is such a charming little island like these kids.

Sabtang Kids on a cogon-roofed Tricycle

Sabtang Kids on a cogon-roofed Tricycle

Join us in our next 3-Island Hop Backpack Photography Batanes this August. Check the details at www.backpackphotography.net

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Backpack Photography 101 in Corregidor http://www.ironwulf.net/2012/01/19/backpack-photography-101-in-corregidor/ http://www.ironwulf.net/2012/01/19/backpack-photography-101-in-corregidor/#comments Thu, 19 Jan 2012 02:38:16 +0000 http://www.ironwulf.net/?p=6357 For me Photography is like learning how to ride a bike or driving, once you learn the basics, it should be second nature to you in order for you to speed away and shoot. We invite you to learn the fundamentals in photography and apply them on a weekend in Corregidor Island for Backpack Photography 101. Learn about history while you learn about photography. Explore the Rock while you explore your photographic talents. See Corregidor in a new light.

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Photography 101 in Corregidor

Photography 101 in Corregidor

For me Photography is like learning how to ride a bike or driving, once you learn the basics, it should be second nature to you in order for you to speed away and shoot. We invite you to learn the fundamentals in photography and apply them on a weekend in Corregidor Island for Backpack Photography 101. Learn about history while you learn about photography. Explore the Rock while you explore your photographic talents. See Corregidor in a new light.

Workshop dates:  March 3-4, 2012
Register before February 24, 2012
Limited to 18 slots only

Fee: P6,300/pax inclusive of

  • overnight accommodations at Corregidor Inn
  • all meals (1 breakfast, 2 lunches, 1 dinner)
  • ferry service via Sun Cruises
  • transportation within Corregidor
  • Malinta Tunnel Light & Sound Show
  • Insurance
  • ID and certificate
  • access to pool and beach facilities

 Whom is this workshop for? Beginners who wants to get started on photography. Refreshers and photographers who would like to take photos of Corregidor in a new light.

REGISTER HERE.

Batanes Unusual Photo Tour 2012

Batanes Unusual Photo Tour 2012

Our Backpack Photography Batanes Island Hop Photo Tour still has slots open. You can check out the details here at www.backpackphotography.net

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Batanes Backpack Photography and Itbayat Chronicles 2010 http://www.ironwulf.net/2010/08/05/batanes-backpack-photography-and-itbayat-chronicles-2010/ http://www.ironwulf.net/2010/08/05/batanes-backpack-photography-and-itbayat-chronicles-2010/#comments Thu, 05 Aug 2010 00:30:50 +0000 http://www.ironwulf.net/?p=3824 I have written plenty about Batanes on this blog and I'm sure when I go back there, I'll find more things to write about again. It just shows how I love the place. It's like being in a foreign land yet with the familiar warmth and hospitality the Filipinos are known for. For the mean time, here's the chronicles summary from my recent visit to Batanes in conjunction to the Backpack Photography Workshops to cap off this series. I also hope you enjoy the Batanes Islands video I put together.

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Basco Lighthouse

Basco Lighthouse and Batan Cliffs seen from the sea

I have written plenty about Batanes on this blog and I’m sure when I go back there, I’ll find more things to write about again. It just shows how I love the place. It’s like being in a foreign land yet with the familiar warmth and hospitality the Filipinos are known for. For the mean time, here’s the chronicles summary from my recent visit to Batanes in conjunction to the Backpack Photography Workshops to cap off this series. I also hope you enjoy the Batanes Islands video I put together.


Batanes Islands video by Ferdz Decena (Shot using Olympus E-PL1)

Batanes Islands Video (3:53min)
Shot and edited by Ferdz Decena
Music “Awit ng Mandaragat” by Noel Cabangon and Joey Ayala

Batanes Itinerary (June 24-30, 2010)

Day 1

Day 2

Day 3

Day 4

Day 5

Day 6

Day 7

  • Fly back to Manila

Ironwulf.net and Backpack Photography Workshops would like to thank our sponsors and partners Eagle Creek for the Prizes, Canon for the Book Prize and SelphyPrinter, Sony for the Bloggie, Olympus for the participant Caps and Seair.

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