Sabtang Lighthouse Overnight | Malakdang and Sinakan Wandering

Milky way over Sabtang Lighthouse
Milky way over Sabtang Lighthouse

“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.

Sabtang Lighthouse and a pocket of beach beside it
Sabtang Lighthouse and a pocket of beach beside it

Sabtang Lighthouse

The 18-meter high Sabtang Lighthouse have long welcomed travelers to the island since 2006. It’s a prominent structure when approaching the Sabtang port. I have long wanted to visit the place but it’s  barricaded inside a private property. Recently, the owners decided to convert their place into a homestay. How a government-owned lighthouse came to be built inside a private property is beyond me. I heard some controversies but I’m never sure. I decided not to bring it up with the property owners, the Faberes Couple.

The Sabtang Lighthouse is set on a beautiful idyllic hill overlooking the sea. A regular main house for lodging and another round house which was used as a karaoke bar now turned lodging as well is beside it. It is quite close to the port. About 5–10min walk. But since I came from Chavayan village, I had my tricycle drive me straight to the place.

View of Sabtang LIghthouse from the hill side
View of Sabtang LIghthouse from the hill side

Unexpected Companion

By lunch time, I finally met Jess, the girl who insist on staying in the lodging with me since the other house is occupied by another couple. A brave and smart lady traveling on her own and made Batanes as her birthday trip. Quite trendy and seems well travelled to. Nanay Adela set up her own folding bed on the other side complete with beddings. She went on to her trip on the other side of Sabtang for Sumnanga that afternoon. I walked to town to get some supplies.

Finding this blue lagoon beach
Finding this blue lagoon beach

Search for the Secret Lagoon

Got some well deserved afternoon nap after waking up real early that day. As I was getting ready to explore the area, Jess came back and joined me on the search for the lagoon. Nanay Adela had been egging us to visit it but not to tell anyone. A narrow stairway leads to a small cove where she said we can walk on the rock cliff sides leading to the lagoon. But it was high tide so we decided to go over hill. We had trouble looking for the trail though but with a bit perseverance we found it. A patch of secluded beach. We looked for the lagoons we could actually dip in.

We had an interesting conversation on places and why people tend to travel alone while enjoying the waters and waves. Sometimes friends schedules doesn’t coincide. On planning, companions can be enthusiastic until the date comes near and no one would be available. We can’t wait for other people to come along if we want to travel now. As it was getting dark, we went back to the lighthouse lodging. I saw the skylight was enticing with purple colors so I went up the lighthouse. I was disappointed that it was littered with goat dung and not cleaned properly. Good thing the sunset over the hills seen from the top was a consolation.

Nanay Adela also prepare set meals by request and she prepared a sumptuous dinner for us guest. The sinigang was so memorable and also the fish fillet. Her desert of caramelized mango was also so good.

Sunset over at Sabtang hills
Sunset over at Sabtang hills

Milky Way Night

The only qualm I have about staying here is that it was bug infested. To many insects, probably coming from the cogon roofing. Even my citronella repellant doesn’t fully work. I wish she had mosquito net somehow to keep them away. How Jess was able to sleep was a mystery. It was a challenge for me that I just want to sleep outside instead.

I did get to sleep a bit until my alarm went on. I wanted to shoot the Milky Way so I was up already by 2:30 am. The hardest part for shooting the milky way here is to have the lighthouse on the foreground. I had to run around the hills looking for some angle. Carefully settled for on the nearby cliffs fronting the lighthouse. I did get some shots I liked until the milky dissolved into the sky.

Stayed up until sunrise. Woke Jess up as she wanted to see it as well. It was subtle but inspiring nonetheless. Nanay Adela came with some fried camote (sweet potato) for breakfast. Again we were eating al fresco at the back of the house. Enjoying the view. Nanay Adela tended to her white horse. It was touching to see that she treats him like a pet.

In search for the milky way
In search for the milky way
Sunrise by the lighthouse
Sunrise by the lighthouse
Breakfast view
Breakfast view
Hikes and Sinakan Idjang on the next page >>>

The wooden cross looking over the port of Sabtang
The wooden cross looking over the port of Sabtang

Hike up the Cross

From the lighthouse we could see the large crosses up on the hills. Jess and I decided to hike them. First was the large cross nearby. We found the path behind the church. There were stone steps. Some were slippery with grass already settling in. I guess people don’t go here often. We reached the cross which is a pilgrim site during holy week. There were a few cows. The area was fenced and we couldn’t get to the road on the other side. The rock formations there looks like it is another idjang. There was another cross we wanted to climb but we had to go down first.

We asked around on how to reach the other cross. We got directions that it is near the cemetery. We followed the road from the municipality leading to the inner streets of Sinakan. It was an interesting to stroll around in this village. Found out there were a few of homestays here. As if luck was on our side, we happened to ask a guy who’s related to the family who owns the property where the other cross is erected.

The cross at Sinakan Idjang
The cross at Sinakan Idjang

Sinakan Idjang

We stumbled upon Neyala’s Homestay where we met Joseph. He said their family placed that cross on that idjang. The hill is also their farm. He looked at us to see if we’re fit enough to climb. We may have passed his mark as we continued on. He says the ground is soft and we should be careful. He led us to a small creek and pointed the way up beyond it.

Jess and I picked up some walking sticks. It was an open trail but I made precautions climbing. Rustling the vegetation and stomping noisily to disturb or scare away any creepy crawlers ahead. The trail goes zigzag up. The hike wasn’t that hard. Just slow after warning of snakes. We finally reached the cross. It was large and we had a great view of Sinakan Village and Batan Island. We enjoyed what’s left of our time enjoying the view. I had to thank my unexpected companion, Jess for prodding me to find this place. On my own, I would get lazy.

We headed back to the Sabtang Lighthouse shortly to prepare for our departure. I think I have exhausted the places to visit in Sabtang already, unless there are other places out of my radar. I enjoyed the company as well. People who have a passion for travel often collide unexpectedly on the road. We never really travel alone all the time if we’re open to people around us.

View of Sinakan Village below
View of Sinakan Village below
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Sabtang Island Old Procession Trail: Chavayan to Sumnanga Traverse

View of the eastern seas on the old procession trail
View of the eastern seas on the old procession trail

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.

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Itbayat | Hiking the slopes of Mt Riposed for Tayawun Rock

The Tayawun Rock at Sta Lucia, Itbayat
The Tayawun Rock at Sta Lucia, Itbayat

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.

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Itbayat | Rapang Cliffs and Stone Bell: Otherworldy Landscape

Sunrise at Rapang Cliffs
Sunrise at Rapang Cliffs

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.

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Bontoc | Follow the River Hike from Caneo to Tocucan Trail

Caneo to Tocucan Trail
Caneo to Tocucan Trail

I must admit. The urge to cover as much places as I can when traveling has lost its zing. New places still fascinate me but beyond the established tourist spots. Lately I have been visiting Bontoc, Mountain Province a lot. I’m still enticed to explore deeper into the area. My recent visit finds me hiking the Caneo to Tocucan Trail. Villages off the radar to most people since they are located in valleys tucked deep in the mountains. It was an idea thrown to us by our friend Suzzette which we gladly obliged as I was also looking for good suppliers for some native weaving.

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Sagada | Traverse to the Blue Soil Hills, Kaipitan and Balangagan Cave

The Blue Soil Hills of Sagada
The Blue Soil Hills of Sagada

“Wow! How does one get there?” I asked my companion Norbs while pointing down on a parallel electric line post way down below. It seemed so far and unreachable from where we were at Kamanbaneng Peak or popularly named Marlboro Mountain. After enjoying a wonderful play of billowing clouds after the sunrise, we were set for a long trek southwards of Sagada. It was a beautiful day for a trek but the rains the day before had dampened the ground making it more sticky and on some parts muddy. But after a few hours, we found ourselves below the electric line I was pointing to earlier but standing on the curious hues of the Blue Soil Hills of Sagada.

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Bontoc Trek to Mainit from Maligcong via Guina-ang Village

View of Fakhiw Ricefields and Guina-ang village
View of Fakhiw Ricefields and Guina-ang village

It was the day before the turn of the year and I found myself climbing up mountains to reach the nearby villages of Maligcong. I left Maligcong Homestay mid-morning to meet up with my guide Ezra at their family store near the turning point. He closed the store and got ready for our hike. We were going trek to Mainit to check out the hot springs and pass by the village of Guina-ang. I gave Ezra his share of oat bar from Suzette and we were on our way.

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