We take the boat ride to Sabtang Island.
The boat swings left to right towards the end of our half hour trip but Kuya Art says these are baby waves. The people of Batanes are used to Big Mama waves.
We arrive at the Port of Sabtang.
Emy buys Sweet Potato donuts from Nanay Valentina.
School children practice their dance. Ivatans have among (if not The) the highest literacy rate among Filipinos.
We go to the headquarters of Sabtang Weavers Association. From leaves of Vuyavuy (date palm) which grow wild around Batanes,
Nanay Emelia weaves the Vakul, a headdress used to shield women from the heat of the sun as well as the rain.
This is me trying out the Vakul. Neighbor’s Tagalog techno-rap music in the background.
The Mano Po (putting the back of the hand of someone you are respecting) to one’s forehead is a common practice. Our tour guide, Kuya Art, does it to the elder ladies he knows and a little school girl did it to me when she came by.
We walk around the Chavayan Stone House Village. Due to the harsh weather conditions in this Northernmost tip of the Philippine archipelago, during the typhoon season (usually October and November but the rainy months usually start in June), Batanes oftentimes gets the brunt of the high speed winds and heavy rains. The stone houses with cemented ground give the most protection. Nevertheless, through this recurring burden, the Ivatans have adapted with a readiness to rebuild anytime and have become a very hardworking, resilient people.
I remember James 1:2 Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, 3 knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. 4 And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.
The Ivatans did not let harsh climate conditions make them a pitiful people but allowed even supertyphoons to develop their character of strength, resilience, endurance, perseverance, steadfastness with a close, protective, optimized relationship with nature that sustains them and a cooperative, compassionate relationship with their fellow Ivatans (as demonstrated by communal pasturelands and almost-zero crime rate).
We pass by a Sari-sari (sundry) store. [This is commonly set up at the front of someone’s home. They live in the back.]
church with stone architecture,
and the picturesque shoreline with the mountain sculpture that looks like a giant’s face lying on the back of its head. Do you see it?We head for Chamantad Tinyan Viewpoint. From afar, it looked really steep and again, I thought I would never make it across. But the top of the mountain is quite wide. The nipa hut structures up the hill are vendor huts for drinks and refreshments.
Notice Kuya Art on the video above devotedly going all around Emy and Joanne to take good photos and videos of them!
We walk past the restaurant where we will eat, Pananayan Canteen, to go to the fine- white-sanded Morong Beach.
The rest of the ladies prefer to wait in the restaurant while Malu and I walk a few hundred steps more to see what’s beyond.
I’m glad we did. We saw the Ahaw Natural Limestone Arc Formation, spectacular natural erosion sculpting of the original rock, shaped and refined as a result of the harshest bashings and lashings from winds, rains, waves this limestone has been through. Here it is, still standing, and more beautiful than ever.
I am reminded of what Paul said in Romans 8:28 And we know that God causes all things [including the harshest trials] to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose… 35 Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?… [If you are currently experiencing something like these, be encouraged because…] 37 But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us.38 For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
And then it is time for lunch, eco-friendly with leaves as our paper liner over woven plate chargers. We eat traditional Ivatan dishes. Clear chicken soup, turmeric rice, Lunes [Lun-yes] (like a dry, big-chunk adobo), fish, and Cabbage and Pork dish.
We discover that our driver is a Batanes native who graduated from university in Manila with a Finance degree and among his jobs, he worked as a former glass plant manager in Manila but later longed for the simple life back home so he now works part time as a tourist driver. He is a bible believer and through his prayers in the name of Jesus Christ, no less than seven hundred people have been healed of illnesses and freed from evil spirits.
We head back to Ivana Port to catch our 130pm boat back to Basco.
The waters are much calmer on the trip back and we have an uneventful ride perfect for a power nap.
Back at Basco, we go to the Lighthouse where we find free-grazing livestock roaming around. We can see our home away from home, Fundacion Pacita, as a red speck on top of the middle-height hill (about 30% from the left) in front of Mount Iraya. This is a communal pastureland for people to be able to raise their own livestock for food since not everyone has a large enough property. Those who choose to raise their livestock here commit to take part in maintaining and securing it.
On our way back to Fundacion Pacita, we pass by their main road to look for their food specialty of dried fish.
We don’t find any. I find out later that Batanes does not have a food market as we know it. Everyone grows their own food so they are mostly self-sufficient. (Even the mayor… when he goes home, he will also tend to his own garden.) When they have excess, they just display these at the front of their house for neighbors to buy if they want.
We pass by the Creative Hub where you can buy handcrafted souvenirs, and if you’re lucky, right in front of you by the artist who makes them!
From the corner of Creative Hub, this is the street view with Mount Iraya as backdrop.
We come back to Fundacion Pacita to avail ourselves of the complimentary afternoon tea. Stop and smell the roses, explore with us our beautiful home away from home (including the food we ate) HERE.
Photos pooled with Emy, Gigi, Joanne, Malu, Patsy.