“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.
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.
Much can be said already about Sabtang Island, Batanes. It may be the the most accessible island from Batan island and host to many day trip tours, but there are still spots that remain untouched by visitors on the tourist trail. Lukoy Beach is one of those white sand beaches that people often pass by when doing a tour in Savidug and Chavayan. Often called the Secret Beach of Sabtang, the inviting white stretch can be viewed from a cliff. My native guide Mael, knew the way though. So coming from the Savidug Idjang Fortress, we rode back to the village to borrow his improvised snorkeling gear and rode towards this pristine white beach.
There’s a certain excitement on visiting far-flung locations. Maybe the idea of finding authenticity in a remote location drives us to go further beyond the tourist trail. Often times we discover gems in seclusion but that is not always the case. Sumnanga Village, the farthest of the Sabtang island villages found at the west side probably has the least tourist footprint on the island. It even took me at least eight years to return to this village despite having been to the island several times already. But sadly it’s another case of tainting my good memories of the place but thankfully there’s redemption in its natural beauty.
I hopped in the #44 tricycle side-car owned by Mael, my driver who’s a native of Sabtang Island, born and raised in Savidug, a village at the central coast of the island. As with any tricycle in Sabtang, they have modified the look to add cogon roof making it look more native and offers shade on the ride. Mael’s young daughter of 8, who’s obviously clingy of her father joined us as we head to Savidug Idjang, just 1.2km south of the village. Idjangs are stone fortresses found in Batanes and the Savidug Idjang is considered the most impressive among the four found throughout Batanes. I’ve always admired the drum-like rock outcrop from afar, wondering what it is like to be on top of it and see first hand the ancient dwelling place of the Ivatans. This time I stayed overnight in Savidug village to climb it. Mael said he could take me there as his family has a patch of land near the idjang where he takes care of his goats and often go up the place as part of his daily morning chores.
I love maps that’s why Google Maps (and Here Maps) are my friends when I travel. When I’m in a new destination, I’m never afraid to get lost. As long as I have my maps with me I will always find a way back. Aside from maps, I love vectors as well which somehow made me lightly delve into cartography or Art Maps. If you’ve been a Long time reader of this site, I made a set of Batanes Maps in 2008. It was rough and had some glaring errors on several locations and names. These new set of Batanes Maps I made late last year as part of the Batanes Travel Guides I did. Batanes is one of my favorite places in the country and it is fitting I make my first sets of Ironwulf En Route Art Maps about this location. Check below for the maps of Batan, Sabtang and Itbayat Islands.
It took almost two months to get everything together but I’m glad we have finally completed the three-part Batanes Travel Guide collection. It was a really tedious process creating these guides but I enjoyed the moment I spent time with it. Cross-checking facts led me to several resources for Batanes that gave me deeper appreciation of the archipelago. You can now download the guides for Batan, Sabtang and Itbayat islands by clicking on their cover images below which will lead you to their download page.