"a caterpillar doesn't just grow into a butterfly. a caterpillar must undergo metamorphosis, and a cocoon is where a caterpillar risks it all: enters total chaos, undergoes total rebuilding, and is born to a new way of living. only in taking the risk of entering that inert cocoon can the caterpillar go from dormancy to potency, from ugliness to beauty."

Sunday, May 23, 2010

destination: batanes

"isang libo't isa mang bagyo ang dumating, di ka matutumba.
malalim ang kapit mo dito."

this is the how-to-get-there, what-to-do, what-to-see, how-much-to-prepare part.

this is it: heaven on earth! | racuh-a-payaman
a.k.a. marlboro country, mahatao, batanes

time stamp: 12:38:40 philippine time | february 14, 2010, sunday
(finding paradise on valentine's day and chinese new year 2010!)

in this picture: part of the oh-so-green communal pasturelands, the awesome blueness of the pacific ocean, and shy mt. iraya in the distance

how to get there:
easiest/most convenient:
via seair (manila-basco-manila)
32-seater dornier jet
tel. no. +63 2 844 0100
check out their website, too
current normal rate: 13.6K pesos per pax (roundtrip, excluding PhP200 optional baggage insurance)
promo rates: 10% discount on selected travel dates; 50% discount (PhP14K roundtrip for 2 pax) on selected rare occasions
note: the flight route is manila-basco-manila but i'm not recommending SEAIR anymore. their customer service badly needs improvement.

where to stay:
webpages on batanes often have a list of options. google for those.

where we stayed:
shanedel's inn and cafe -- rooms are decent, neat, and the inn has terrace for seaside views
this will cost PhP 300-500 per head per day of stay
owner: deli milan (send me a pm for her contact number)
they can also arrange the basco, sabtang island, and batan island guided tours for you
(we availed of the 3-day package inclusive of lunch for 2 days, permits and fees, van rental with driver, local tour guide services, and boat ride fees. tip: per-head price of tour package goes down if there are more people availing the same package. check if it's possible to be grouped with others.)
OR you can try directly coordinating with the tour guide assigned to us, jacklord labrador (0921 241 6455; i guess it's ok to share his contact number since his name and contact details are also published in wikipedia. astig, di ba?)

length of stay options (our options):
4 days/3 nights
- 1st day (arrival, basco guided tour)
- 2nd day (sabtang island tour)
- 3rd day (batan island tour)
- 4th day (departure for manila)
5 days/4 nights
similar as above for the 1st 3 days
4th day is "free day" for biking, beach bumming, hiking, idling, exploring the place on your own OR you can hie off to itbayat island (3- to 4-hour falowa ride -- nakakalula! sure na! -- or 12-min plane ride at 700 pesos per head if the airstrip in itbayat is functional)

day 1 (our day 1)
- arrival, check-in at place of stay
- 10am-1pm free time (walk around basco proper -- everything is hiking distance around the capital: trial court building, provincial capitol, plaza, kilometer zero marker (haha, i almost missed seeing this one!), general hospital, philippine national police (ivatan's finest!) headquarters, banks, food shops, public market (just one small building!), basco cathedral (built in 1776?), abad st., national road, national food authority. interact with the locals you meet -- ivatans are very hospitable!
- basco guided tour (day 1 tour package)
* tukon church (rivals caleruega! i love it more than caleruega. it stands on a hill offering a great view of both the pacific ocean and the south china sea and mt. iraya as well.)
* radar tukon / basco PAG-ASA station
* idjang (local term for old tribal rock fortresses)
* japanese tunnel
* valugan boulder beach (your assignment: how many boulders are there in valugan boulder beach? give high tide and low tide figures. haha!)
* vayang rolling hills
* basco lighthouse / naidi lighthouse
- back to place of stay
- dinner

day 2 (our day 2)
- breakfast
- start of day 2 guided tour -- destination: sabtang island (where the nescafe classic TV commercial was shot)
* port of ivana (sights in this area: san jose church, honesty coffee shop, jackstone port, old port)
- falowa ride to sabtang (it might be helpful to take bonamine or candy. the waves are notoriously nausea-inducing -- it's like a 45-min non-stop rollercoaster ride.)
* sabtang registration
* savigud village (stonehouses, church, ivatans)
* lime beach (make your guide share the ivatans' traditional way of making lime for their stonehouses -- a practice already stopped due to ecological reasons)
* idjang
* chamantad sanctuary
* chavayan village (vakkul weaving, stonehouses, church, ivatans, beach)
* nakabuang beach (strong waves, ahaw rock arch)
- lunch (pananayam canteen)
- falowa ride to batan (another 45-min rollercoaster-like ride)
- free time (options: walk around basco, go biking, revisit the basco lighthouse and naidi hills, sit by the beach)
- dinner
tip: observe where the national road in sabtang leads.
reminders: sabtang has a lighthouse: the sabtang lighthouse. if favor is on your side, you just might witness a real bayanihan and be invited to eat their delicious bayanihan food -- may pabaon pa! -- like what we experienced.)

day 3 (our day 3)
- breakfast
- start of day 3 guided tour -- batan island tour
* chawa viewdeck (see the treacherous waves of the south china sea hit the cliffs of batan)
* white beach
* house of dakay (oldest stonehouse in batan; built in 1877 and still inhabited)
* ivana (san jose church, honesty coffee shop!, port)
* song-song ruins (a village facing the pacific ocean that was ruined by a tsunami in the 1950s)
* alapad natural rock formation
* ruins of the long-range aid to navigation (LORAN) of the US coast guard
* brgy. imnajbu (pronounced as im-na-bu; place where the first catholic mass on batanes soil was held by the spaniards)
* racuh-a-payaman a.k.a marlboro country (communal pasturelands facing the pacific ocean and mt. iraya
* mahatao church
* old spanish bridge in mahatao (the other old spanish bridge is in ivana)
- free time
reminder: do not miss the mahatao hedgerows and the mahatao lighthouse

dining places:
hiro's cafe, resto at basco lighthouse, pension ivatan (just ask around). try ordering casa napoli pizza (yummy! their most expensive pizza costs PhP430 -- and it's big, big.)

souvenir shops in basco (at least, those that we've entered/checked out):
* wakaii (where i bought my "wow batanes -- wind over waves" shirt)
* tawsen
* of this and that
* there is also a souvenir shop just outside the basco airport terminal building
* basco lighthouse
* honesty coffee shop (where no one's watching and where i bought my shirt by dropping my money into the honesty box)

you may also visit the following websites (google, google!):
* batanes online
* batanes cultural travel agency (BCTA)

- the ivatans started using BLOW UR HORN road markers long before SMS became popular, long before texting was acknowledged as a word and as an independent lingo. look for those road markers. disclaimer: ivatans are NOT jejemons. they have high literacy rate.
- bring flashlight. you might want to take a walk to the hills (where basco lighthouse dominates) to watch sunset there. you will need the flashlight on the way back. it's relatively safe to walk. ivatans are kind.
- their doors have locks pero hindi uso mag-lock sa batanes.
- sunrise is best seen from valugan bay. sunset can either be enjoyed from basco lighthouse (naidi) or from brgy. kaychanarianan's beach (shanedel's beach front)
- overnight in sabtang island is 300 pesos per pax per night
- walk around basco and always be on the look out for interesting things like tippuhu trees, abandoned stonehouses, road signs, old-spanish-bridge-inspired modern-day bridges, and fuel prices.
- food will cost.... ~PhP1500 all-in-all per head (actually, this would really depend on your preferences because good food -- complete meal -- in batanes can cost 30-250 pesos per meal per pax)
- souvenir shirt will cost ~PhP150-250
- luxurious place of stay in basco is fundacion pacita (super nice but pricey as well)

flashpacker's budget:
normal flight rates + tours + accommodation + food + transpo: ~20K pesos per pax

previous article on batanes: but i knew i loved you even before i met you
next article on batanes: my february 2010 batanes travel diary (and you thought i'm already over it? haha!)

acknowledgment (of course, this is important!):
to mati and kat for the great company, weeeeeeeeeee -- kat deserves a special mention since she's the one who made the arrangements for the group.


  1. Wow! Thanks for sharing, Val! I'm thinking of going there myself. Got to save up! :)

  2. anong banks meron dun? PNB lang ba?


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