How to Spend 4 Days in Batanes

8:14:00 AM

exploring batanes

Visiting My Ivatan Roots

My childhood was filled with beautiful stories about Basco - my father’s hometown. Growing up in a poor family, my father left the province when he was only 16. He lived with his cousins in Manila for quite a while after he finally met my mom, a Masbatenia. It must have been destiny when two human beings, who were born in two distant provinces, met as they searched for their own kind of “greener pastures”. Masbetenios are known for their being matatapang by nature. My mom is no exception. Ivatans, on the other hand, are regarded to be calm, modest and soft-spoken. I’d say my parents are a perfect match because they easily complement each other. My dad has always been the calm person, albeit a worrier; my mom, the “dragoness” of our household as my siblings call her. Growing up with an Ivatan father, I wondered, “Are all Ivatans like my dad?”


Twenty Years a Dreamer.

My oldest memory of Batanes was an ABS-CBN documentary aired on tv when I was 4. I remember my dad marking our big-numbered wall calendar to remind us of a once or twice a year programme about Batanes. I watched every documentary in awe with my family. As a child, I never understood why my dad had left his beautiful, rather surreal hometown in exchange of the urban life. So for twenty years, I had these curiosities. Is it really that beautiful? Are the Ivatans really humble and pleasant? Will I ever see papa’s hometown?

Batanes: Then and Now

• Frequency of cargo ships to Batanes - Gone are the days when Batanes only received its goods once a year via cargo. The locals may have the money but there were no products to buy. My father said they hardly received common necessities like school bags, notebooks, soap that they had to use them frugally. Now, cargo ships transport goods to Batanes frequently every month.

• Seat sale - The airfare to Batanes is very steep compared to other provinces in the Philippines. A round trip ticket used to cost Php 17,000 before the return of Philippine Airlines to Basco. Many of us probably haven’t heard of the airline company, Sky Pasada that chartered passengers to and from Basco before commercial carriers like Sky Jet and PAL became available. Now, Batanes is no longer a distant dream for travelers as Philippine Airlines offer a daily flight, notwithstanding an elusive seat sale to Basco for around Php 1,800.

Basco Airport
The view that will welcome you in Basco Airport
• Frequented by strong storms - Batanes is well-known for being a flight path of big storms. In the past years however, typhoons have become a shy visitor in Batanes; a circumstance believed to be brought by climate change. I’ve asked my grandmother and uncle (both of them are locals of Basco) if they notice this too. They affirmed and told me the arrival of big storms has become less frequent over the years. Because of this, they are now able to plant rice, corn, fruits in general instead of just root crops and sweet potatoes. Maybe there will be a time in the future when Batanes will become a year-round destination.

• Volume of Tourists - Tourism in Batanes have flourished over the years. Because why not? A place so serene, distant from the cramped area like Manila, you’re like in New Zealand they say. In the past decade, there hasn’t been much tourists in Batanes, probably because of the steep airfare and the unpredictable weather. I remember a  tv interview with a local guide some 15 years ago. He said they would only have a few, less than 200 tourists every summer. There’s almost none during the rainy season. Then from 5,000 in 2013, tourist arrivals have jacked up to 17,000 according to some tourism stats. Hopefully this beautiful place will never be like Boracay that started with a few tourists, and then year after year was getting more and more crowded.

Behold Batanes

Places to check out for a 4-day trip to Batanes on a tricycle!

I have my bias for Batanes because it’s my dad’s hometown. Really grateful to my relatives for free accommodation, food, tour of the island and of course, for their warmth. Therefore the itinerary and expenses that I’ll share to you are from my cousin who is a local tour guide. I let him decide on our route since I haven’t done my research (as usual). Here’s where he brought us.

1. Tukon and Fundacion Pacita
Tukon Chapel
Tukon Chapel
2. Inside a typical Ivatan home in Sabtang
notice the shiny floor! it's a common thing in Batanes
3. Racuh A Payaman
The Batanes I see in TV - Marlboro Hills
Eyeball ng mga Abad sa Basco, Batanes :P
the other side of Racuh a Payaman - party with the clouds!
4. Valugan Boulder Beach
We also went here at noon time. It's prettier at sunrise :)
5. Chamantad Viewpoint
Nope, no trekking required.
6. Lighthouses of Batanes
View of Basco Lighthouse from the beach where we had our picnic
Worm's-eye view of Basco Lighthouse
7. Port to Sabtang
Faluwa ride to Sabtang
8. Nakabuang Arch and Morong Beach
Nice beach but the sand is a bit coarse
9. House of Dakay

10. Fishing Village in Sabtang

11. Traditional Stone Houses

12. See the local life: Traditional way of breeding pigs, eat with the locals during a town fiesta, visit famous churches
Light shining through my uncle's piggery in the forest
Free food during town fiesta
13. Chawa view deck

Other places we saw but didn’t have a photo of...
Mahatao Viewdeck
Imnajbu Road Cliff
Vayang Rolling Hills
Chanarian
Biking in town proper

Estimated Expenses for a 4-Day Trip to Batanes

Particulars (* if shared with 1 person)
Cost in PHP
MNL-BSO roundtrip promo fare
₱1,800
Homestay accommodation (₱350/night)*
₱1,050
Food for 4 days (if ₱150/meal)
₱1,500
North and South Batan Tour*
₱1,250
Tricycle to/from Ivana Port *
₱250
Boat to/from Sabtang Island
₱160
Sabtang Island Tour *
₱400
Other fees
₱200
Total
₱6,610 for 4 days
Just like other provinces in the Philippines, Batanes has its own difficult situation. It’s not a good idea to visit the island during rainy season as typhoons can mess up your itinerary - cancelled flights, no nice view of Racuh a Payaman, wild waves on the way to Sabtang. Aside from that, there is poor internet connection and intermittent brownouts at noon time. There aren’t much things to do other than a whole day of sightseeing. Also, there’s no night life.

Despite these drawbacks, Batanes is bathed in serenity. Perfect for anyone who wants to get away from the urban rush. I just hope that the local government can do something to regulate tourism very well to prevent Batanes from being the next Boracay - beautiful but congested.

I’d love to hear your experiences or impressions about Batanes! Feel free to share them in the comments.


Suggested Reading:
Visit Paris on a Php50,000 Budget

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10 comments

  1. Love it!!! Cant wait to visit here!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sweet! Thanks for dropping by, Anne! Go, visit Batanes na :-) Abangers lang seat sale hehe

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  2. Brends! Kelan ka nagpunta? What month? Hehe

    ReplyDelete
  3. Brends! Kelan ka nagpunta? What month? Hehe

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hello Nicole! Summer ako nagpunta, May pows :D

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  4. Hello! Going there on August and praying for a good and clear weather. Would you know kung kelan ang town fiesta nila? :)

    Thanks!

    -Cleo

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hello Cleo,

      We visited May 2nd week and it was Basco and Sabtang's town fiesta. It's a good way to mingle with the locals and eat the local food for free! <3

      While I haven't been there in August, here's a list of their town fiestas
      http://batanestravel.com/discover-batanes-2/calendar-of-events/

      Praying for a good weather on your travel to Batanes!

      Happy travels! :-)

      - Brenda

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  5. hello, nice travel blog. am also a traveller and a masbatenia. if u don't mind what is the name of your mom?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Samut Sari, I prefer not to disclose it. Thanks much for dropping by! :-)

      Delete

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