Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Batanes - South Batan - Paradise Found

During our second day in Batanes, we visited the South Batan Island. Itinerary for this day was: Basco - Mahatao - Uyugan - Ivana - Mahatao - Basco

The day started with a short stop at Chawa Point viewing deck - it consists of stairs down to sea coast.

Walking down the steep stairs, we saw Chawa Cave, its an enchanted cave with natural salt bed whose mouth opens to the West Philippine Sea.

Next stop is the Mahatao Boat port - this is a natural port made from a small island near the coast, and enclosed by a wall of break water to prevent the strong waves from coming in.

Notice the difference with the calmness of the sea within the walls of the port as compared to the waves outside.

As an added bonus, we saw this Blue Marlin in the port which was caught by the local fishermen that morning.

Catch for the day - Blue Marlin !

Next, we drove to San Carlos Borromeo Church in the town of Mahatao. 

According to our driver/guide (which is a Mahatao native) - the locals have cooperated to rebuild the church after the Typhoon Odette last Sept 2013, interior ceiling is made of natural Reed material locally grown.  Beside the church has this old Spanish lighthouse -

Southern Batan has its own lighthouse as well, the Mahatao Tayid Lighthouse :

Surrounding the lighthouse are these breathtaking view of rolling hills, 

with the cattle and the lovely sea as its background:  

For our lunch, we stopped at Racu-a-Payaman which is widely known as Marlboro Country:
  This simple hut serves as the eating place:
The food here were served per package (300 php per pax), this for me is one of the delicious meal during our Batanes trip.  They served us: Snails (big Gong gong), Fish, Luñis (Ivatan pork adobo), Vegetables, Uvud (Banana pith with minced pork balls), and a fruit platter for dessert.
This is where often times visitors silently stands in awe and feels the fresh wind that blows their body. 
From this hill, we can also see the Mahatao Lighthouse which we visited earlier -
It is also where locals have communal pastureland for raising cattle and horses, due to its endless rolling hills.
After filling our eyes and stomach, we drove down the mountain to the coast line of Alapad hills. This town is named as Uyugan - an Ivatan word meaning: place of flowing water. 
Alapad hills is famous for this stunning rock formations -
 Another breathtaking views - 
  Visible from the Alapad hills, is the LoRan station - used to house US coastguard detachment for almost two decades.
At present it is being developed into a museum.
Driving further down the coast, we reached another church: Our Lady of Miraculous Medal in Itbud. 
Then we drove past Sitio Song Song - which has the ruins of vernacular stone house.  Noticeably only the roofs were destroyed, while the stone walls still stood.
Ivana Town, is historically famous, because it is where the Katipuneros commanded by Capt. Perea first landed at noon of Sept 18, 1898.   Up next, we visited an Ivana Church also known as the San Jose Church built in 1814. It has a crenelated fortress-like bell tower.
The church faces the Ivana Seaport, which is the  It is the gateway to the island municipality of Sabtang. (Follow the part 3 of this Batanes series to know more about Sabtang).
Few meters from this church is the Honesty Coffee Shop.  This is the unmanned refreshment store which has become famous worldwide for showcasing Ivatan's honesty.
There is no standby seller; the owners rely instead on their trust that their customers will practice honesty when paying for goods taken from the stores through a box labeled "payment here".
Our next stop in Ivana is House of Dakay - A Unesco Heritage Building (1887), this is the oldest surviving house in the town of San Jose de Ivana in Batan Island. Constructed from lime and stone, owned by Luisa Estrella who bequeathed it to her favorite nephew - Jose Dakay Estrella. 
Its windows and floors have never been changed, it is probably most photographed house in Batanes to date. Previous occupant was lola Florestida Estrella, who just passed away last January 2014. The Old Spanish bridge just few meters away from House of Dakay,
it was built during the Spanish period and still being used to date.  For dinner we were brought to Pension Ivatan (opposite Basco airport) - 
we ordered their specialty Ivatan Platter - combination of supas (turmeric rice), tamiduk (pako salad), Grilled Beef, Squid, Flying fish, Uved, Luñis, Vunes (dried gabi leaf), Shrimps, and Tatus (Coconut crab); and Dukay salad for dessert.  This ends our second day in this cinematic haven of Batanes.   If your interested to know more about this paradise, let me share this educational documentary about Batanes.
With each day of touring this place, we are often overwhelmed by the warm people (always smiling) and natural beauty of Batanes, making us look forward for the following day's destination.  The next article will be the climax of our trip - Sabtang Island.

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