If you love an outdoorsy adventure but not in terms of answering the call of Mother Nature, you will feel pampered and at home at Fundacion Pacita in Basco, Batanes.
Regally situated on a hilltop surrounded by picturesque seaside cliff mountains, meandering pasturelands, and the Pacific Ocean, this sprawling property has become a refuge for endemic trees, free-grazing pasture animals, singing birds, as well as for enamored travelers after a day of exploring the treasures within this tropical Eden.
The view from every side is a stunning work of art that awakens your soul to nature, to your inner artist. No wonder this haven (the main house) used to be the former painting studio of pureblooded Ivatan, Pacita Abad, the first Filipina painter to be internationally recognized, whose works have been featured in 200 museums, galleries and other venues, including 75 solo shows, around the world [Source].
After her passing in 1994, the property was converted into a bed-and-dine operation run by a nonprofit foundation which supports heritage conservation, local livelihood, and art projects, and provides university scholarships for Ivatans. Fundacion Pacita employs 100% Ivatans in alignment with the principle that the productive end of any sustainable community-based ecotourism should primarily benefit the local people.
The windows are living picture frames for God’s creation all around.
Genesis 1:9 Then God said, “Let the waters below the heavens be gathered into one place, and let the dry land appear”; and it was so. 10 God called the dry land earth, and the gathering of the waters He called seas; and God saw that it was good.
Each room is named after a wind direction. Malu and I were assigned to Avayat which means “Easterly Wind,” a summer, breezy, cool, mild wind.
There is a small refrigerator where our supply of complimentary drinking water was available daily. There is no twin bed configuration. The efficient air-conditioning was comfortable for the warm times of the day.
Well-maintained bathroom with water heater and hair dryer.
The balcony view to Emy and Joanne’s Balcony:
Exploring Joanne and Emy’s room (Thank you, Ladies):
The stunning gardens designed by Pacita’s brother, Butch, throughout the poetic landscape are maintained by two very hardworking gardeners. Not these lady guests pictured but full-time in-house gardeners.
Malu and Joanne are surrounded by Fookien Tea bushes. This plant was named thus because its leaves were really used for tea. This topiary garden would be perfect for having an afternoon tea party. Except during typhoon season.
FOOD from Cafe du Tukon (translated as “Hilltop Cafe”). My favorites are the Pako Salad, Arugula Salad, and Fish en Papillote with Orzo.
The View from the cafe:
Breakfast L-R: Naked Longganisa (Sweet Garlic Sausage), Homemade Corned Beef, Ivatan specialty Arayu Kan Uvi (sun-dried Dolphin Fish smoked on traditional cooking stove). To regulate beef supply, beef is slaughtered only twice a week— Wednesdays and Saturdays.
On one rainy morning, Cafe du Tukon staff recommended that we order room service so we did! We sat at the adjacent dining room and enjoyed the sea breeze and wind whistles through the huge picture windows while having our Arugula Salad, Dibang Sun-dried Flying Fish served with Garlic Rice and Salsa, and Local Naked Longganisa with Fresh Tarragon Tea, Calamansi juice with sweetened with Honey.
Housemade Tomato Jam (available as takeaway if you pre-order) and Bread with Herb Butter were quite good.
Merienda Food: Camote (Sweet Potato) Fritters in Chocolate Dip, Bread Pudding with Mulberries from the garden and Muzcovado Sauce. My favored dish is the latter. We also had fresh tea made with Tarragon from the garden.
During the rainy day when we couldn’t wander around, Ramil of Front Office was able to arrange for home service lady masseuses, Charmagne (left) and Rowena (right), who both have full time jobs but on tourist peak season, they do part time work as masseuses. I enjoyed my relaxing massage with Rowena. Malu shared God’s Word with them during and after her massage while I prayed until I fell asleep.
From Cafe Tukon, you could take the spiral staircase to go one floor down to the gallery:
I felt that every staff member we encountered really tried their best to deliver excellent service. The front office organized to get our dried fish souvenir, repack them with paper and plastic bag and package them in a styrofoam container that could be checked in for our flight. All the staff at the cafe were also very helpful.
There are only twelve rooms in Fundacion Pacita so one normally has to make a reservation at least one year in advance.
[Photos pooled from Emy, Gigi, Joanne, Malu, Patsy]
Mount Iraya on a clear day:This is how I feel when I think about God’s grace in Batanes and life:
Frequently found around Batanes in the Ivatan dialect is “Dios Mamajes” meaning “God reward you with goodness.” That is what I wish for you every day.