Monthly Archives: January 2014

Sinulog 2014

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Snapshots from this year’s Sinulog Festival.

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Sinulog is held every third Sunday of January in honor of the Child Jesus.  Note the main dancers of each group clutching an image of him.

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Spotted: some artistas (celebrities) during the parade:

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That’s Daniel Matsunaga (upper left), Empress Schuck (with the red patterned top), and Kaye Abad and Nikki Valdez (in white shirts) who were onboard the IPI (International Pharmaceuticals, Inc) float.

Speaking of IPI, their Egypt-themed float this year was particularly striking:

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More photos of floats and giants/giantesses and mascots.

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Pardon the quality of some photos since my camera’s batteries (yes, including the spare) got drained (the spare was empty to start with because I forgot to charge it, ugh!) and so I had to make do with taking photos using my Note 2, which hindered me from taking better zoomed-in shots.

Lastly, here’s a collage of photos of the Sto. Niño.

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Pit Senyor!

Batanes: Flora from Day 2

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I included so many photos in my post about my second day in Batanes that in order to minimize the number, I decided to make a separate post about the interesting flowers I saw from that day. Still, there were 40 photos in that post – the most I have so far in one blog.

According to Google Images, the above yellow flower is called Gaillardia, or Blanket Flower, a genus of flowering plants in the sunflower family. I found it outside the Honesty Coffee Shop in Ivana, Batanes.

Here’s a collage of more flowers from that day:

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The red rose was taken at the house beside the house of Dakay. The lavender one was seen in Alapad while the Purslane (I’m familiar with this because I made a post about Common Purslane HERE) was taken in Mahatao’s Lighthouse. The yellow flower with 5 petals and the red violet flowers beside the red flower were from Marlboro Country. The light pink flowers were from Chawa View Deck, while the red flower was from Monica’s Cottage.

Batanes: Day 2

at Batan Island

Inclusions of our Day 2 tour are the following: Chawa Viewdeck, Mahatao Shelter Port, Saint Charles Borromeo Church, Ivana Spanish bridge, Hohmoren White beach, House of Dakay, Saint Joseph Parish, Ruins of Songsong, Alapad Rock Formation and Marlboro Country.

Some photos of me from Day 2:
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Marine Sanctuary
We passed by a marine sanctuary on our way to our destinations.

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The drive was very scenic, and thankfully, the weather was perfect for touring the island.

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As we drove along, I was thinking, “Who wouldn’t fall in love with this province with views like this?”
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Chawa Viewdeck
It has a grotto of the Virgin Mary and steps leading to the beach below, where the view of the crashing waves against the rugged cliffs was quite a sight to behold.

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Chawa View Deck
The beach was not a sandy one, but rocky, and it’s beautiful.

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Mahatao Shelter Port

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The port was still being constructed during our visit. This is a project that aims to provide fish sufficiency and job generation in the region.

Saint Charles Borromeo Church
The original church was built in 1787. It has historical importance too since the Katipuneros raised the Philippine flag here on September 19, 1898.

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I just noticed that this Church’s outline is similar to Sto. Domingo’s (photo HERE, in the collage), though the latter is painted yellow.

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The drive to Mahatao Lighthouse was also very scenic.  We could see the village below and the rolling hills, mountain (sorry, I forgot its name), azure sky, and dark blue waters made me wish I have a house here.  Te he.

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Mahatao Lighthouse
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For me, this is the most beautiful of Batanes’ 3 lighthouses, though the wiring spoils the view.

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From here, the views didn’t disappoint.

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Afterwards, we had lunch at Monica’s Cottage where we got to try on native Ivatan garb (details to be discussed in a future post).

Here’s a teaser post of me looking out the window wearing vakul, an abaca fiber-made headgear worn by Ivatans as protection from the sun or rain.

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Right after our meal, we met this fisherman who spent half the day catching squid, and he was nice enough to pose for photos.

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Afterwards, we took some time exploring the village.

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And of course, its beach, which was right across Monica’s Cottage.

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One side of the beach was mossy (or should I say seaweed-y).  That is, the sea floor was full of some sort of sea grass.  The other side was rocky, and it’s a good thing I brought with me my pair of Sanuk to protect my feet.

In this beach, the water’s clear on the beachfront but farther up, the waves created about 2-foot high frothy waters.

Marlboro Country 

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Called Rakuh-a-Payaman by the Ivatans, Marlboro Country is definitely one of the most beautiful places that I have been too. The verdant rolling hills, the blue sea, the crashing waves… all these contributed to creating stunning seascapes and landscapes.

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Mahatao Lighthouse was also visible from here.

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More photos of Marlboro Hills’ stunning landscapes and seascapes.

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And photos of me pretending I was “falling off” the cliff.

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Batan Island 
Another beautiful spot with views of lush hills and the deep blue sea.

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I thought the guy in the collage was tending the carabaos (water buffalo), but Kuya Jun explained that he’s there for the signal because this is the only area in Batan with strong cellphone signal.

On the same hill, the Old Loran Station, an abandoned US navigational facility, provided a good focal point on the landscape below.

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Alapad Rock Formation 
About 10 meters from the hill is the Alapad Rock Formation.

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It kind of reminds me of Arizona and its canyons, albeit a small one.

Old House in Uyugan

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We just drove by the village and I took a quick snap of this old stone house.  We did not linger since Kuya Jun said there are more stone houses in Sabtang, our destination the following day.

Song Song Ruins
This village was devastated by a tsunami in 1953.

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Snacks at Honesty Coffee Shop
It’s called Honesty Coffee Shop because no one mans it. You just get what you want, look at the price list and then pay for it (details to be posted in a future post).

Saint Joseph Parish
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The church is named after St. Joseph the Worker. The design is again reminiscent of Sto. Domingo’s in Basco and St. Charles Borromeo’s in Mahatao.

Ivana Spanish bridge
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They said this is the oldest bridge in the country.

House of Dakay
Purported to be the oldest house in Batanes.  Most of the magazines and blogs I saw feature the lady of the house, but since she’s now so old, Kuya Jun said that she mostly lies down and sleeps. We didn’t have the heart to bother her to ask for a photo so we just took a photo of her house.

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And of this cute dog and the rose bush that grew on a neighboring house.

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We also made a quick stopover in Ivana’s welcome site.

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The sun was about to set and I would have loved to stay because I could tell that it was a good spot for sunset-watching, but we still had places to visit, and still quite far from Basco so we left after taking some photos.  

Hohmoren White Beach
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The sand here was a course, though the waves are gentler compared to Valugan Beach’s so it’s safe to swim here.

And thus was how we spent our second day in Batanes.

Some random photos from this day:

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And another of Mahatao Lighthouse.

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Just beautiful.

Batanes: Day 1

Basco Lighthouse

Basco Lighthouse

This is a late post since I did this trip nearly a year ago (though I did make a teaser post  HERE), but as the cliché goes, it’s better late than never, so here goes.

Batanes is one of my dream destinations.  I’ve been longing to visit it since I was in college (that was a decade ago, gasp!) and last year, I was finally able to make this dream a reality.

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Getting Here

Only one airline was flying the Manila to Batanes-capital Basco (and vice versa) route when we made this trip, thus, the fare was sky-high. Sky Jet’s roundtrip airfare cost us about Php 16,000 (about USD 400) per person. Too expensive for a domestic travel, but worth the Batanes experience.

Flight-wise, though, it did not feel Php 16,000-worthy. The plane was too small (the smallest among the many I’ve ridden) that the flight was jarring because we felt the plane’s every move. And our flight was delayed for an hour, though it’s because of the weather. On the positive side, they served some snacks (yummy peanuts and too-sweet brownies) and the flight attendants were friendly.

Now, aside from Sky Jet, SeaAir offers trips from Manila to Basco and vice versa.

Arrival and Transfers

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Batanes’ Basco airport is small, but charmingly built. It has no baggage carousel so we had to wait for our luggage to be offloaded from the plane and brought to the terminal before we could claim it ourselves.

Since our room rate included airport transfers, Kuya Ireneo picked us up from the airport to  bring us to Rapitan di Vasay. Travel time was about 10 minutes.

Where we stayed
We stayed at Rapitan di Vasay, which I will discuss in detail in a separate post.

Since the tour that we arranged would not start until 1 PM, we decided to spend our morning just
walking around town. Rapitan di Vasay is centrally located and places of interest are just walking distance from it.

Basco Pier
Our first stop. Not that interesting since it looked abandoned. And the dreary weather wasn’t helping me appreciate the place.

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At the Town Plaza
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Basco’s town was laid out like most towns in the Philippines.  That is, the park, school, seat of government, church, etc. are close to each other.

We also passed by their local tourism office to ask for a brochure or map, but they didn’t have them.  Too bad.

Some interesting flora that I saw during our walk:

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And this adorable goat family.

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They definitely were not the least bit camera-shy since they stopped grazing and solemnly looked at us while we snapped photos.

Batan Island Tour
This is part of the 3-day tour that we arranged with Noel (+63 999 363 6845). Cost is Php 6,200 per person.  Expensive, but we recommend that you take this instead of organizing the tour yourselves.  Batanes’ points of interest are far from each other and some roads are difficult to navigate so a tour guide and/or driver are/is necessary.

Our assigned tour guide is Jun (+63 908 936 8193).  He’s very knowledgeable and is good at taking photos (what a bonus!), especially jump shots (this is the only time when most of my shots were jump shots).  I recommend that you ask for him since he also owns a tricycle thus, he can easily take you to places (he brought us to the restaurants where we had our meals) that are not included in the tour.

Batan Island Tour is a tour of the northern part of Batanes. It includes Mt. Carmel Chapel, PAGASA station, Fundacion Pacita, Japanese Tunnel, Valugan Boulder Bay, Basco Cathedral, Vayang Rolling Hills, and Basco Lighthouse.

On the way to Mt. Carmel Chapel, we passed by Basco’s welcome signage with a shrine of the Virgin Mary. It also serves as a viewdeck of Basco’s waters and pier.

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Mt. Carmel Chapel

Unfortunately, the chapel was closed during our visit so we contented ourselves with just taking photos of its exterior.

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PAGASA
PAGASA stands for Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Service Administration. It is responsible for providing the Filipino people with flood, typhoon, and weather forecasts and advisories, and meteorological, astronomical, and climatological information. Batanes is usually within a typhoon’s range, so it makes sense that one of PAGASA’s weather stations is there.

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It also offers a beautiful view of the rolling hills and the sea.

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Fundacion Pacita

This is a popular seaside lodge in Batanes that used to be the home of a renowned Filipino artist (her works adorn the place).

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We came back here on our 4th day for lunch, so I will just detail our dining experience (and the lodge’s interior) in a future post.

Basco Idiang

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This used to be  a settlement of the Ivatans, the locals of Batanes.

We also came across a carabao (water buffalo) resting beneath an interesting tree with purple flowers.

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We also chanced on other interesting flora here and Kuya Jun was nice enough to show us how the leaf of the tree with the lavender flowers could be made into a windmill.  A leaf from a variety of taro could also be made into a dipper, or an umbrella (not pictured though, since I was familiar with it because when I was child, I saw some kids in Aklan putting the leaf over their heads during the rainy season).

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I don’t know what the plant with the white flower is called, but the flowers can be eaten (they taste sour) as demonstrated by Kuya Jun.  I’m familiar with the plant, though, and know that it also has pink and red varieties.

Japanese Tunnel
This was constructed during World War II.  Where they used to get their water then was still available, although as per Kuya Jun, they no longer drink its water, but use it to bathe their  cows or carabaos.

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All those bending and body twisting to fit into the tunnel was tiring, but the view we got when we reached the exit was all worth it.

Valugan Boulder Beach

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Just beautiful!  And unique, because instead of sand, there were boulders that came from Mt. Iraya. Too bad it’s not swim-able because of the very strong waves.

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Vayang Rolling Hills

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Verdant hills that look postcard-perfect. Being here made me feel as if I were not in the Philippines, a country famed for its beaches, but in a countryside somewhere in New Zealand or Europe.

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Rolling Hills is also a perfect sunset spot, the details of which I will post on Day 4 of my Batanes trip.

Naidi Hills
This is where Basco Lighthouse is located. We were supposed to have dinner at Bunker Cafe (the white structure beneath the lighthouse on the upper right in the succeeding collage), but it was closed since they had no running water.

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Naidi Hills also offers a sweeping view of the town of Basco (bottom right photo of the above collage).

Basco Lighthouse

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This was constructed in 2003 in the site that was originally the site of American period telegraph facilities that connected Batanes with the central government.  The facilities were destroyed by the Japanese Imperial Army bombings at the start of World War 2.

I will end this post with a solo photo of Basco’s Lighthouse.

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Lighthouses are so charmingly romantic, don’t you think?