Mt. Irayat watches over the whole island of Batan

Mt. Irayat watches over the whole island of Batan

Batanes is one of the most elusive places to visit in the country. Booking a flight would require you 2-3 months of advance reservations since only one airline serve flights in the area. Despite the current steep price tag (4500 PHP one way via Asian Spirit as of this writing), flights are always fully booked especially during peak seasons of Decemebr to May. Even if you managed to get hold of a ticket, frequency is in the hands of the weather, if the storm-stricken region will allow you passage through the sky. Travel by the sea is out of question unless you dare to take on the waves spanning up to 3 stories high on seas where the Pacific Ocean and the China Seas meets. The distance taunts you like a Siren’s Song from Ulysses’s myths. Yet those who are fortunate enough to step on its islands will be rewarded with sweeping landscapes, experience with its rich culture and mingle with one of the most kindest people in the world.

The 8 seater Pacific Air plane

The 8 seater Pacific Air plane

“So where’s the plane?” One of our companions asked while we were waiting for our flight at the Laoag Airport. There were a lot of stranded passengers there. It would seem that the 8 seater plane from Pacific Air (No longer operational as of this writing) has a day backlog of passengers going to Batanes. So we were delayed a day and had to stay at a sari-sari store cum ticketing office owned by the one managing the small airline as well. We were treated well, even toured around Laoag even up to the main control air port tower to see how everything there ticks just to keep us from getting bored or to compensate for the delayed flight. Fortunately early the next day, cramming on a small plane, that seems to be as fragile as an assembled toy, we flew of towards Batanes.

The patterned landscape of Batan Island

The patterned landscape of Batan Island, viewed from Radar Tukon

We touched down Basco at last. Soon we were whisked away to our home base, the Ivatan Lodge where we have a reservation courtesy of a companion’s friend. Together with that, we were referred to a tour guide, Juliet, who founded the Batanes Eco-Tourism group which holds guided tours around Batanes. And as measly budget-travellers we are, we managed to get the price to almost half the original price it is given after some pleading. Good thing Juliet didn’t scrimp on any of our itineraries while we toured the whole south of Batan Island.

View from Imnajbu

View from Imnajbu

Imnajbu in Uyugan is where the local movie “Hihintayin kita sa Langit” was shot. Standing on a windswept hill will give you a 180 degrees view of the rugged country with its jutted craggy cliffs and impressive jutted limestones continuously battered by the seas. As if the were molding an artwork on the earth itself throughout time.

The hills are alive in Marlboro Country

The hills are alive in Marlboro Country

The Marlboro Country is a vast stretch of greenery and hills where cows and horses graze around. The place is also windy and gives you amazing views of Batan Island’s shorelines.

The Ghost Baranggay at the Ruins of Songsong

The Ghost Baranggay at the Ruins of Songsong

Dubbed as a ghost town, the Ruins of Songsong, serves as a grisly reminder of the power of nature over man. After a tidal wave that hit the island of Batan in the 1950s, what is left now are clusters of stone walls that survived the wave.

View of Naidi Hills

View of Naidi Hills

The cold crisp air continuously blow while we went up on a road to take a look at the breath taking view at the Naidi Hills. The Basco lighthouse can be seen from afar and some world war bunkers as well blending in the rolling hills, rugged cliffs, mountain views and the Batanes Bay.

The Basco Lighthouse

The Basco Lighthouse

Moving in closer, we went to one of the impressive man made structures in the island, the Basco lighthouse. I thought the design blended well in the environment.

Sundown in Batan

Sundown in Batan

As the day is about to end, we stayed there by the hill beside the lighthouse where we could view the sea and the sunset to relax for another full day of adventure ahead. Since the place is only a walking distance from the town center itself where we are lodged we would climb this hill again and just relax while the sun goes down and greet the stars while we lie on the grass. Now whenever I see this photo of the lighthouse, in my mind I always go back to that spot in Batan Island. One of the most relaxing places I’ve been.

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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.

45 Responses to “In retrospect: Batanes, the land of the howling winds”

  1. how nice.. and very fortunate of you to land on that island… πŸ™‚ i like the lighthouse.. ive never seen a lighthouse sa pinas? it looks sooo foreign. hehe.. even the hills.. parang.. different ahh.. i like the view from imnajbu.. hahaha soo nice… and of course the last picture…

  2. Oh, beautiful pictures. I’ve heard nga that when you’re there, you’re like in an entirely new country because of the beauty and magic of the place. I remember that scene in Hihintayin Kita sa Langit. πŸ™‚

  3. galing naman kuya, nakapunta ka na ng Batanes.. ang ganda nga ng scenery tapos pacific ocean pa ung body of water dyan.. i didnt know na lagi pa lang fully booked mga flights papunta dyan.. ang dami rin cguro ng nagpupunta dyan eh no.. it is truly a must see island sa pinas.. πŸ™‚

  4. ferdzzzzzzzzzzz… grabe astig ka talaga!!! haha.. i didn’t know that batanes is such a beautiful place like this.. so peacefula and relaxing.. paran g tamang-tama sa pag-iisip at reflections…

    hay. .. nakaka-inggit ka talaga. and you capture photos so well..sobra.

    thank you for always sharing your precious pics to us πŸ˜€

  5. Huwaw! Picture perrfect! It’s a very cooool and relaxing place. Wish I could go there too, dami talagang lugar na maganda sa atin na mapagmamalaki πŸ™‚

    I’ll link you up pala ha… Thanks ferdz!

  6. the fare + the scary trip is worth it! yung patterned landscape parang kuha sa ibang bansa πŸ™‚ at meron din palang version ng marlboro country sa batanes (parang pulag). pwede raw ba akyatin ang mt. irayat?

    may balita ba dun sa planong summer trip to batanes? πŸ˜‰

  7. going to this place is one of my long time dream.

    Someone told me that Batanes looks like the French Riviera. If all the fixtures, buildings and other structures are transported there, it would be the perpect replica.

  8. wooww dre.. ayos ah… para na rin akong nakapamasyal sa batanes ah.. i like your shots, most is the ‘lighthouse’ -” a lighthouse without a light is just a house… and can’t be called a home… ”

    i thank you… πŸ™‚ see u soon dre..

  9. Alternati

    The light house looks really charming, I especially like the red roofs.

    Is it really called Marlboro Country? I should live there! hehehehe..

    Simply breathtaking! Who knew a dot at the top of the Philippine Map looks like this?? Amazing!

  10. hanggang ngayon wishlist pa rin ang Batanes sa akin, kelan kaya. sayang, di ko man lang nasubukang sumakay sa 6 to 8 seaters na eroplano, ako kaya ang feeling? grabe sobrang ganda ng batanes!

  11. Jehzeel Laurente

    ganda pala sa batanes! weeeeeeeee!!.. testing my gravatar… hehehe…

    nakapunta na rin po u ng mount apo? di ko kasi makita search field mo po here.. πŸ™

  12. Jehzeel Laurente

    huhuhuhu.. bat kaya ayaw mag appear ng gravatar ko.. may kulang cguro me ginawa.. or baka ilang araw pa bago mag appear T___T.. hhuhuhuu… nag register na me sa gravatar la parin.. waaaaaa!!! may ata πŸ™

  13. asteeeeeeeg! this place is breathtaking. everyone wants to go (who wouldn’t)…kaso hirap. pamasahe pa lang tsong para ka ng nagpunta sa HK. Anyway, i guess that makes it a real nice target to visit kase napaka-aloof niya sa dagsa ng tao di katulad sa Palawan na sobrang accessible na ngayon dahil sa promo ng Cebu Pacific. Anyway…gaya nga ng sinabi ng iba…makakapunta din ako diyan!

    p.s. tsong, lapit na ng Cambodia trip mo ah…excited ako sa mga pictures. kung sa siem reap ka stay, try mo yung Monsoon Bed and Breakfast ha, hehe. astig sa ambience eh.

  14. richard

    wow! what a nice place!

    parang hindi sa pinas ah. lalo na yung basco lighthouse, astig! makapunta nga dyan. hheheh..

    nice shots esp. nung sunset at saka nung landscape.. .. πŸ™‚

  15. nice, very nice. Planning to go to Basco on Oct 31 via laoag. Pacific Air sana, kaso nag-stop operations na sila since July 2007. Now we’re stuck with our flight to Laoag. While the Tuguegarao option is kinda infeasible since bababa pa kame Baguio area. Maybe you can help us sir. Kindly contact me at [email protected] … salamat marami!

  16. Sir, we are a group of mountaineers scheduled for Basco sana on Oct 31, 2007 via Laoag. However, Pacific Air has stopped operations just this July. The tuguegarao alternative seems infeasible since bababa pa kame sa Baguio Area. Maybe you can help me find alternatives of gettign there. Kindly contact me at [email protected] … salamat!

  17. paponestor, Papo Nestor

    So, are you from san diego, CA or Sampaloc? Batanes is where beauty is eternity. It is where childhood and adulthood can dance together and forever in everyone’s mind. It is where a sailor sail from the shores of Luzon and crawl the shores of Chavayan, tip-toe the Mavien Channel to Ivatan, Vatan and fly the mountains of Matarem and Iraya. While atop Mt Matarem all the islands (the northern frontier of the Philippines) are visible. If you are one of true solid heart, climbing up to the summit of Mt Iraya will make you feel like Formosa is within your grasp, for it is that distant ground on the northern horizon. And if you can hear the echo of your voices and noises coming from the lake on the crater atop Mt. Iraya then you must enjoy the feeling of being with the beautiful people of Itbayat.

  18. dhitseighteen18

    Yes…from San Diego, CA and I don’t know ab out all of that stuff you said but….my beautiful wife is from there so that makes it beautiful to me πŸ™‚

  19. liberty grace

    great capture!!! love to be there on of these days πŸ™‚ I really like the view so calm & peaceful seems like the nature is speaking of its beauty…. as to when maybe on 2011 hahaha ang layu pa noh!!! pano kasi Ive been dying to go to sagada and hopefully baka june of next year… hope you’ll still be around para maka kuha ng tips from you sa mga pa sikot sikot doon:)….. so nice of you to post this Blog… God Bless

  20. jenry b. salming

    wow! great place to relax… can you send me how much will i spend for such a stay in batanes, including the transportation fares from manila to batanes and back… thanks

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