The Philippines - Luzon

Batanes: North Batan Tour (Day 1)

One night in 2016, after two bottles of alcohol, me and my cousins decided that drinking is not enough and that we have to book a flight in one of the most beautiful islands here in the Philippines. The northernmost island of our country which is Batanes. We have been planning to go there a few times but airfare is just too expensive. Hence, we booked a flight for next year. It wasn’t cheap though, 8.5K round trip airfare from PAL is the best that we could get. We scheduled it by July 2017 amidst the storm threats and the risk of getting stranded in the island.

Come July 2017, we all packed our bags and went on a 4-day vacation in the smallest province here in the Philippines. Our flight going to Basco was scheduled at 6:00 AM to 7:45 AM. If you are to check their daily flights both in PAL and Skyjet, they don’t have scheduled trips after 9:00 AM. This is because of the weather conditions in the area. Basco airport becomes a playground for young Ivatans in the afternoon.

July 21, 2017 – Day 1

Upon arriving at the airport, we waited for a while for our baggage and went to their Tourism office to register and pay for the Visitor’s Sustainable Ecotourism Fee for PHP 350 each. This includes a Batanes map with a short history of the province. We then went to the hotel, Midtown Inn Batanes. When we checked in, we were told that electricity is only from 9:00 AM to 11:00 AM and 5:00 PM to 12:00 AM. The rest would be powered by the hotel’s generator which only covers the electric fans. The receptionist explained that due to the typhoon last year, they have rotational black outs and that the ship carrying the oil that should have been for the electricity had to go back to Manila because of leaks. Weather in Batanes when we arrived was humid. Not a good way to start our day but still, it has been one of our dreams to visit this place. We can go on a couple of days without electricity right?

We availed a tour package from BISUMI Tours and Services since we were a group of 4, we shared all expenses. The tour guide Kuya Kenneth picked us up at the hotel by 11:00 AM to have a quick lunch first before starting our North Batan Tour. We went to Jessica’s Place and they served us lunch binalot-style. Their yellow rice was awesome! Since the province’s main product is turmeric, aside from sweet potatoes, they mix their rice with it.

After that delicious meal, we went on with the tour. Our first stop was Vayang Rolling Hills. Ever felt that you’re inside a painting? That’s how it was. The scenery is surreal. It gives you a view of the West Philippine Sea and rolling hills. Just a few walk from the road and you’ll get to see this beautiful view. It was too hot when we went there but seeing the view was all worth it.

After a lot of pictures taken, we went on to our next stop which was the Basco Lighthouse. This lighthouse is famous since travelers who went to Batanes won’t miss having their pictures taken here, making it their Facebook profile picture afterwards. Of course, we made sure that we took a lot of pictures here as well. We climbed up the lighthouse to get a good view of Basco.

We also visited a couple of churches namely Sto. Domingo de Guzman and Mt. Carmel Chapel. The latter being famous for church weddings. Seeing the chapel, I wouldn’t be surprised that a lot of people all over the country would want to have their wedding to be held here. The place is romantic and again, the view is perfect.

I mentioned earlier that a year ago, there was a typhoon which destroyed some parts of Batanes. One of the affected building was the PAGASA Radar Station. Because of this, we were not able to go inside to have a look but just looking outside, you’ll see how much damage this typhoon caused.

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We passed by at Basco Ijiang which is also called the Batanes Castle. It’s made from limestone and wood. Unfortunately, I was not able to take some pictures as we just passed by from it. We proceeded to the WWII Japanese tunnel which was used from 1941-1945. It was dark inside so we only took some pictures before entering the tunnel.

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Our last stop for the day was Valugan Boulder Beach. From the name itself, you get to sit on boulders instead of sand while looking at the beach. However, it is not advisable for guests to swim as the current is too strong. When we went there, we saw locals fishing and some children swimming. We waited for other guests to leave before we started taking photos. It was a bit difficult to walk over those boulders, chances are you’ll slip but the view is worth it.

Before heading back to the hotel, we dropped by at one of the souvenir shops to buy some pasalubongs. We also settled our balance in BISUMI’s office. Later that night, it was a challenge to go to sleep because of the black out. It was too warm inside the room. Nonetheless, Batanes exceeded my expectations. I was very excited for the upcoming days of this trip.

Lights out! ☺

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