Travel: My Goodness, BATANES!!! (Part II)


Our FIRST DAY in Batanes, glorious as it were, did not prepare us enough for the feast of the senses that was DAY TWO. Ate Monica warned us the night before that lately, Basco has been experiencing scheduled brownouts which usually starts at 3am and lasts until about mid-morning. True enough, our AC went to sleep at about 4am and we woke up to a steam room. IT. WAS. HOT. After yet another delicious breakfast served by Ate Monica, we filed out of the hostel into the van that will take us to the port where we will be taking a motorized banca bound for Sabtang.

Day Two was going to be a day of exploration and as you can see, we wasted no time. None at all.

At the Port of Sabtang. Subtitled: Stating the very obvious.

There was another van waiting for us at the port and we have a new driver, Rudy, to take us around. We started our tour with a quick stop at the beach to take photos. Have you heard people who’ve been to Batanes say that you can use the crappiest camera you own and the photos will still come out superb? Well, LUMI is certainly not made of crap (oh, I would smack someone so good for calling my baby that!) but she’s also not of Lumix GF or Sigma quality. However, she certainly made me proud of the photos she churned out. The colors and contours were captured so beautifully that they bring me close to tears each time I’d rake a peek at any of our albums.

Miss Tourism - Batanes says 'Welcome Visitors!'

Before Batanes Busog Bodies, there was 'Batanes Best Bodies'

Only one of the reasons that make Batanes beautiful.

The legendary Ivatan houses of Savidug made out of stone and cogon roof.

Best Actors in a Still Photo. Yes, kami na nga yun.

From Savidug, we made our way to Chavayan where we had the greatest time walking on narrow streets lined with Ivatan stone houses. A must-do when in this area, we rented Ivatan wear such as Vakul – a headgear worn by the Ivatan women to shield them from the heat and rain when they go about their daily errands. To have your photos taken with these Ivatan items, you pay 20 pesos.

Lady GAGAh and the fierce Monsters

This is NOT how real Ivatan women carry the basket. Instead, they put the strap around the forehead before wearing the Vakul, so that the basket itself is sitting almost atop the butt.

'What's love got to do, got to do with it? What's love but as secondhand emotion...' Yes, Tina Turner, I'm a fan.

Ivatan Ambassador of Love and Goodwill.

Napagod din ang mga Curacha.

We also passed by the famous Chamantad Sanctuary which gave us the most fantastic view of the Sabtang coastline. We trekked all the way to the cliffside for more photo-taking. Kuya Jun kind of reminded us not to go down to the beach part anymore as we still have quite a few places to visit before heading back to Basco. Question is: Did we listen? Na-uh.

Cris C. immediately went planking. Cris B. continued to put all of us to shame with his sculpted abs and exposed body parts. Romy and Eric went deep into photographers’ mode. Uly kept trying to dodge the sun but would come out of hiding for photos. And I, well, did what I do best — jump around and look pretty for the camera. Pretty, of course, being a very subjective/relative term. Basta sa mundo ko, maganda ako.

FREEEEEEEEEDOM!!!

Ang Babae sa Damuhan.

Chamantad Sanctuary panorama.

Ang Babae sa Batuhan.

Beautiful beyond words.

Free as a bird.

Heatin' up Batanes

And finally, our last stop for the day: NAKABUANG BEACH. Here, we had our scrumptious lunch comprised of adobo, lobster, steamed fish, pinakbet, turmeric rice, and fried saba for dessert. We were so stuffed it was tough for us to get our butts off the monobloc chairs. For a brief moment we toyed with the idea of just staying right where we were – away from the burning heat of the sun as were were already burned to a crisp from all the walking of the past two days. But who can possibly resist the nakakabuwang beauty of Nakabuang Beach? Certainly not us. And so…

Yes, Loves, we are still in the Philippines.

Nakabuang Beach is famous for the natural rock formations studding the stretch of its sandy white beach

Solitude by Eric Cabahug.

Decadently happy. Or Happily decadent.

Taking a respite from the heat.

Bye Sabtang Island...'til we meet again...

Advertisements

Travel: My Goodness, BATANES!! (Part I)


I am one very lucky girl.

I may not be rich in the traditional sense of the word but God (has) most certainly blessed me in many other ways. I don’t drive around in fancy cars or fly business class, but I have traveled to some of the most remarkable places here and abroad. With the exception of my occasional leisure trips with my dear friends and boyfriend, most of my international travels are work-related. It’s quite rare to have a career that enriches you professionally and at the same time, gives you ample leg room for you to be able to explore activities that will, in turn, enrich you both physically and spiritually.

Until very recently, it never occurred to me to make my own bucket list – maybe because I have always been uncomfortable with the idea of setting a deadline on anything that has got nothing to do with my work deliverables. I guess I have gotten so used to be being on my own that the only pace I know how to walk or run is my own. I slow down when I want to; I go on full sprint when I want to. In retrospect, it all started with running.  Tried it once and got hooked for a while. From my first 5k, I found myself running a full marathon in less than a year. I didn’t stop there. Shortly after my first and only full-mary, I dared to do an ultramarathon and got even more hooked. Since then, I have tried my hand on so many other outdoor activities that I never thought I would have access to – let alone be genuinely interested in. Fishing, Trail running, Scuba diving, Surfing, Mountain Trail Biking — these are some of the things that I have now X-marked on my list.  Though most of them I have done only once – bringing to fore that I am indeed ‘Little Miss Will Try Anything Once’ – I wouldn’t mind giving them another go sometime in the near future. Surfing, especially. But first, I seriously need to learn how to swim already. Not just for that, but for my general knowledge and survival. You know, just in case someone tries to push me into the water and make it look like an accident. Hah!

And now it seems that my list had just gotten longer with the addition of rock climbing, scrambling and rappelling which I may be doing soon as I get back from my trip. I want to tell you about so many other MORE EXCITING projects we’re working on with some very good friends but I don’t want to jump the gun too soon. For now, let’s just say that we are going to conquer the world one step at a time. Right, Kas, B, and Marga? *insert smiley here*

Now, on to the main reason for this blogpost which I accidentally turned into a novela again because of my penchant for digression: BATANES.

What else can I say about Batanes except that the island is TOO BEAUTIFUL for words? My senses are still somewhat overwhelmed that I cannot even come up with adjectives good enough to describe the whole Batanes experience (that) my friends and I had just recently.

So, just like what Eric did in FB, I will let some of the photos we took do the talking. And maybe add some unintelligible description here and there if only to delude myself into thinking that I’m still some sort of a writer.

But first, I want to thank Emperor Eric Cabahug for planning the whole thing and booking our flights as early as March when Seair announced its promo fare for Batanes. Normal flights to and from Batanes would cost you around Php16,000 including taxes and that is quite steep for a local flight. But let me tell you now that it’s all worth every centavo – and MORE. If it weren’t for the locals that look and talk just like us, you wouldn’t think you’re still in the Philippines. The island is so multifaceted you would think you’re in Hawaii or Scotland or New Zealand — three places I have never been to, by the way, but the natural land and seascapes of Batanes may very well rival the vistas of these three countries on Google images.

Sleep-deprived and in my case, still under duress from work (very normal for me), we – Eric, Cris B., Cris C., Uly, Romy and I – took the 5:15am flight from Manila to Basco, Batanes on July 1. The flight was one and a half hours long but quite comfortable. Our airhostess, Frances, had the best natural voice I have ever heard come out of a woman’s mouth. It had a sultry ring to it and she enunciated every word to near-perfection!

The Batanesians.:)

Batanes Airport is small but you instantly feel the warmth and beauty of the island the minute you step out of the plane. At the airport, we were welcomed by Kuya Jun, our designated tour guide slash driver for the whole of five days. After snapping our touchdown Batanes photo, Kuya Jun drove us to DDD Habitat, our home during our stay.

Ate Monica, cook extraordinaire slash manager of DDD Habitat, treated us to a scrumptious breakfast of fish lumpia, veggies, and rice. Not wanting to waste a single minute of our Batanes time, we changed into shorts and tanktops and set off to explore the island – except for Eric who opted to sleep the first half of the day. That morning, Romy, Cris B., Cris C., Uly and I went to the lighthouse nearby.

One of the MANY jumpshots we will be doing in Batanes.

United Colors of Batanes.

San Marino advert gone dark. haha.

Paging mobile providers, you might want to use this in your marketing collateral. LOL.

When we came back just in time for lunch, we were all twice as dark as when we first arrived in Batanes. We did not really anticipate the heat to be that intense so we scrimped on sunblock. Lunch was fantastic and we all fell in love with the fern salad Ate Monica prepared. Thus began the Batanes BUSOG EDITION. Let me explain. The minute we arrived in Batanes, all we did was eat, walk, take photos, eat, eat, EAT! Hence the ‘busog’ look in all of my swimsuit photos. So much for ripped abs. The all went back into hiding beneath the layers of fat – many thanks to the sinfully delicious meals we would have five times a day! Such was the case for me, at least. Because Cris B.’s perpetually ripped! he ate as much, if not more than, I did but the abs stayed right where they are. I asked how it’s even possible for those pandesals to stay unfazed despite the amount of food ingested whereas mine looked, well, bloated, he said, ‘it’s all muscles, Vicky.’ So I guess I have to work harder than ever before to scrape the fat layers, eh? When did it get sooo hard to be a woman?!?

Living on the edge is good...sometimes.:)

At the viewing deck of one of the smaller lighthouses.

For Cris' Mom.:D

Binibining Yellow bell.

Inside one of the rooms at 'Fundacion Pacita'

According to the caretaker, Fundacion Pacita can be rented for around P7,500 per day. They are currently renovating the place but it should be open for business again soon. In the meantime, you can have lunch or coffee at this beautiful place with the stunning view of the rolling hills of Batanes and the great pieces of art on display inside the house.

And that concludes Day One.