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.
Diura Fishing Village
Disembarking at Basco port, I immediately headed to Monica’s Canteen and Catering along Amboy St. I’m quite familiar with Monica since she used to work in a lodging in Basco I frequent. She has a place in Diura where I remember bringing some of our Backpack Photography participants before. Now she had put up her own own business and from the looks of it, its booming. She invited me to stay at their new place at the Diura Fishing Village. She said they’re still fixing it up but hadn’t time to manage. I said sure, I don’t mind. I just needing a bed, a roof in my head and a place to do a few days worth of laundry.
Aldrin of Monica’s was kind enough to drive me to Diura riding his tricycle with open side-car. It was cool even under the mid-day sun. Road conditions really have improved in Batanes. Almost all roads are paved now. We entered the familiar Diura Fishing Village. A lighthouse now stands there, a small electronic one not the grand picturesque stone and concrete lighthouse.
I remember Monica’s old cottage on the upper street level of Diura where people would occasionally don traditional Ivatan garbs for pictorial. Monica’s new place is two houses up higher just being the small chapel of the village. Aldrin quickly made up the place, replacing the bed sheets, sweeping the floor and securing the windows. I could see that sometimes they themselves go here as well as some of their toiletries and even condiments are here. Aldrin tells me they do go relax here sometimes. And after opening up the windows, who couldn’t relax here? Framed is Mt Irayat, Madi Bay and the houses below. I heated water, prepared myself coffee and sat by the window and loose myself watching the afternoon go by.
Madi Bay Sunrise
The windows were left open while I slept. I could see the small village illuminated by the full moon. It was breezy and cool that I slept comfortably until my alarm sounded around 3:30AM. Days are longer this time of June. By 4:00AM I could already see colors forming in the sky. I got my equipment ready and started to walk towards the shore. I didn’t need to hurry. What a convenience. I see the lighthouse signaling light across the bay. I found myself a good spot, anticipating where the sun would rice.
I could hear the pebble rumble near the shore as the waves pull back at sea. Slowly the light was at play and the clouds seems prancing away from the horizon. I think it was the best light and weather condition I had shot on this place. As early as 5:00 AM I could already see Mataws (fishermen) attending to their Tatayas (small Batanes boats without outriggers). It’s past their official fishing season for Arayu (mahi-mahi or dorado) from April to May but some fishermen still fish for other kinds like dibang (flying fish).
To the Spring of Youth
Returned to my lodging and prepared myself noodles, with bread and coffee for breakfast. It was still early but I wanted to walk around the village. It still is the same with Diura Fishing Village I know except that now some houses has been turned into lodging/homestay cottages. There’s another catering business aside from Monica’s. Houses still have plenty of dorado hanging out to dry since the fishing season recently ended. I walk past a few students heading to school. There’s a small grade school here near the pigpens. It doesn’t smell though. Probably because of the sea breeze.
The road to Raku-a-idi Spring or popularly known as Spring of Youth (sometimes called Fountain of Youth) is well paved with half of the way already cemented. I think motorbikes or even tricycles can reach the stone stairs leading to the spring about a kilometer walk from the village. I enjoyed the walk nonetheless as the higher the trail goes, I could see the vastness of Diura’s cove.
What fascinated me more as I go down the stone steps where the numerous columnar stones with precisely cut holes. I have seen those at idjang particularly in Savidug but here, they are scattered at the fringes leading to the spring. These columnar stones are signs of early settlement. What they are there for is still being figured out. Are they used as tools or as religious symbols? Who knows but it may also be the root for the mataw’s belief in the Diura Fishing Village. The kapayvanuvanua ritual to start the arayu fishing season to protect the fishermen and the magical aqua-colored beads called mutin.
The Spring of Youth is at a place they call Riacoyde. It is not as bare as I last visited the place. Cottages, bamboo benches, restrooms and a man-made pool is now there. The pool doesn’t have water though so I made do bathing at the small basin on where the spring flows. People here believe that the water has healing properties. Not really sure if that was true. I did had a refreshing time there by my lonesome enjoying its clear cool waters. Oh it was a good idea to stay overnight here in Diura. I feel revitalized.
Diura Fishing Village is 3km from the town of Mahatao. From Basco, BATODA tricycles (0929.703.8404) can take you there for Php 200 one way. There are no tricycles in Diura but nearby tricycles from Mahatao (MATODA 0930.373.2854) can fetch passengers and bring them to Basco for Php 200 as well.
For overnight stay in Diura, you can try Monica’s Cottage. Contact 0908.505.4765 or 0999.553.1738. There are food catering services in Diura but can be expensive. Better bring your own food. There’s a lone store near the entrance of the village.
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.