A walking tour around Batanes. Not your usual and convenient type of tour but certainly the best way to experience Batanes at its best. Certainly. Well, you have to get some tough footwear for this kind of trip. Just a warning.
First things first. Batanes is a Philippine province that is composed of around ten islands; the only inhabited ones are the Sabtang, Itbayat and Batan. Batan Island is where Basco town is (the provincial capital). Our initial plan was to explore the three islands during our stay there. But then, things don’t always go as planned.
So after feeling the vibe of Basco, we immediately embarked on a journey that is not so popular, a walking tour of Batanes. Yes, me and my buddy ditched our plans to hire a tricycle for the North Tour of the Batan Island to save a thousand bucks and explore the place more by foot.
Actually, I didn’t know what I have gotten myself into. But, hey I’m always up for an adventure. I really didn’t mind walking but the cold weather in Batanes was what I was most concerned about. I have this very low tolerance to chilly weather but with great fervour in exploring the unknown, I indulged. It’s not everyday that you get to experience some in-your-face awesomeness (with no entrance fees or whatsoever). And I must tell you; some of these places are far from Basco town. If you are not that fit or comfortable with walking then you would rather rent a motorbike or a serviced van instead (around 1,500 to 2,000 pesos plus the tour guide fee).
First stop was the Basco Church or the Our Lady of the Immaculate Concepcion Cathedral which was built during the 1700s. The original roof was made up of cogon grass that's also a famous type of roofing for the stone houses. It's located near the plaza or the town hall.
Next stop was the Basco Lighthouse which was relatively near our lodge, we asked around on how to get there and people were eagerly pointing us to the right direction passing through the plaza and stuff. It was a good stroll I must say, I didn’t wish I was inside a closed van or a serviced tricycle. It was a fun walk.
Upon reaching Naidi Hills, I noticed a very white and blue bunk house near the lighthouse. They said that it used to be an American facility of some sort which they turned into a café. The Bunker’s Café serves some pre-ordered meals (reservations only) at around 300 pesos per person. Dining with the stunning view of the hills, the Baluarte Bay and the lighthouse was the steal of the deal. Having dinner there would be nice if only we had loads of bucks to spare. Moving on…
Next stop was the Vayang Rolling Hills. We strolled some few kilometers just to get there. We passed by some locals, bikes and some poops. I now understand why the hills and mountains are perfectly grazed, it’s because of the goats, carabaos and cows who are left there during the day to eat some grass. I wondered all those time if they even get full with all of the green stuff they munch.
|I am not in the Philippines, tell me...|
|such a common sight|
|braving the cold weather on a summery outfit|
I didn’t know what to expect so I just followed my buddy on wherever he leads me. I was in a very good mood that crabbiness wasn't in my vocabulary that day.
After about an hour or so (got no sense of time ‘coz of the lovely place) of non-stop walking on this paved steep road, we reached the Tukon Church. This stone church is a favorite wedding destination of some. They would transport the whole clan to Batanes just to experience getting married on a nice church and with a great view. Romantic indeed.
|trying to capture its beauty|
I was taken aback of the view at Tukon Church. The beautiful seascape on one side, the landscape on the other and children playing on the school nearby were perfectly en sync. I thought I never get to appreciate the uplands but this changed everything. And we’re just on our third destination eh?
|the only one inside|
|no alcohol please|
Still not knowing where to go and was constantly reminded to just chill (not literally) and wait, we headed, again, to the paved road and kept my calm for the next surprise.
It was the Fundacion Pacita; the house of the Abads (one of the prominent families in Batanes) that was turned into a whole complex of hotel rooms, villas and restaurant. If you have some moolah and want to wake up with a perfectly nice view of the sea and the hills then you should stay here. Getting to and fro the Basco town is quite a task though for you have to wait for quite some time for the shuttle to collect you.
And then we were teleported to the Sound of Music set. Vast greeneries, endless mountains, horses, cows, the mighty Mt. Iraya and the very nice locals were the next part of our voyage. You wouldn’t believe how extensive everything is until you get to see it. We had some couple of stops just to remind ourselves that this were all not make-believe (and yes, we got tired too).
|endless stunning views|
|I can stay for a day on that spot, just feed me right|
|I get tired too|
|me got no flashlights :(|
The next day, we woke up very early (5:30ish) to catch the sunrise at the Valugan Boulder Beach. I’m very allergic to the word “boulder” for I have a very stressful but fun experience hopping from boulders to boulders at Hydro Falls in Baguio City. But then I fought that doomed feelings and went on with the day’s plan.
We went to the Basco’s tricycle terminal (which is open 24 hours, on-call) to get a ride to the beach. A 60-peso trike ride brought us to our destination. The chilly weather blew my head off. I was literally freezing to death and wasn’t moving for some time (thanks to the winter season).
When the light slowly engulfed the whole area, we hurriedly went to the shore. Well, there’s no shore but huge rocks, stones, boulders and whatever you call those things. They were huge. Like some were bigger than I am.
|the water was tempting but the rocks weren't|
We silently waited for the sun to show up to get a glimpse of what they say as the majestic sunrise at the Valugan Beach. And indeed it was such an amusing view (popcorn na lang ang kulang).
I remembered a remark from friend of a friend of a friend; Ang ganda ng sunrise, parang sunset! And now I truly understand what he meant. Yes, sunsets are perfectly great but this particular sunrise was the bomb. If my buddy could’ve only seen my overreaction to it.
And so we went on again by foot; literally by foot for my buddy’s sandals retired on the beach. This half of a supposedly resilient pair of slippers got tired. But not us. Not yet.