Monthly Archives: March 2014

Batanes: Rapitan di Vasay

This is my review of our stay at Rapitan di Vasay.

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In Ivatan language, Rapitan di Vasay translates to a place to stay in Vasay, which is the eastern part of Basco.  It used to be the residence of Don Vicente Barsana, the first Ivatan Governor of Batanes and is now being managed by his great grand children.

Inquiry and Reservations
I made the inquiry through their official website’s contact form.  The owner herself answered my queries promptly.  She’s very helpful too and suggested that we bring jackets because the weather can be very fickle.

After reserving their Idawud room, we were asked to deposit the payment via their PNB account, which was a hassle for me since PNB is in Cebu City, which is an hour from Mactan.  I’m hoping that in the future, they will come up with credit card payments for everyone’s convenience.

Arrival
Kuya Ireneo, the cousin of the owner who also acts as its caretaker picked us up from the airport.  Rapitan di Vasay was a mere 10 minute ride from the airport.  As mentioned on a previous post, it is walking distance from Basco’s church, town plaza, municipal hall, and school.

Accommodations
As mentioned earlier, our room is Idawud.  It has one queen-sized bed and a single bed.  Its view is that of a garden of bougainvilleas.

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The room was clean and quite spacious.  On the downside, it had no bathroom as it’s shared between the occupants of their rooms (from my inquiries, most accommodations in Batanes have this arrangement).  Fortunately, the couple on the other room was due out when we arrived so after they left, we had the whole house (and bathroom) to ourselves since the third room, Kagtin, was also unoccupied.

The living room, dining area, and front porch were also common guest areas.

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Basically, all the house’s facilities are shared among the occupants of all the rooms.  If you are a family or group of friends, this is one ideal accommodation for your group.

Service
We were mostly out so our contact with the caretaker and the cook was minimal.  Nevertheless, our experience with them was most pleasant.  while the young lady who prepared our breakfast mostly just smiled, Kuya Ireneo shared some travel tips and explained that the reason why they had no restaurant is because the owner wants utmost privacy for their guests

Meals
Now this is the best part about our stay here.  Our breakfasts in Rapitan di Vasay were always beautifully presented and delicious.

On our first day, we had dried flying fish, sweet potato, and rice.

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The dried flying fish was in my list of Batanes must-try because it’s a known delicacy and I was happy to tick it off my list on our first day in the island.

Every day, they also provided complimentary buko (young coconut) juice and camote (sweet potato) fries for our snacks.  Both were sweet and quite a treat, especially since they are free.  Te he.

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On our second day, we had longganiza, omelette, rice, and again, sweet potato fries.

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Another filling, yummy meal for us.

We had fried chicken, sunny side up eggs, rice, and again, camote fries on our third day.

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Yummy, especially the very tasty chicken, which was well-marinated and crunchy.

On our fourth day, we again had dried flying fish, scrambled eggs, rice, and the now perennial camote fries.

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Note that breakfast is not included in the room rate so we had to pay Php 200 per person per breakfast.

I’ll end this post with photos of the flowers I took here.  The purple flower brought me memories of my childhood.  We had the same orchids at home and as a child, I would make it into some sort of floral crown.

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In a Nutshell
I recommend this place for those who want basic accommodation when in Batanes (you will be out most of the day for your tours, anyway).  It’s perfect for small groups and families, though if you prefer an accommodation with a view, head on to Fundacion Pacita.  It’s more expensive, but it’s beautifully designed and with a good view of the mountains and the sea (details in a future post).

Rapitan di Vasay is located at the corner of Amboy and Castillejos Streets in the capital town of Basco.  Visit their official website for more information.

Of Disappointments and Expectations

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You placed me on a pedestal
Even when I did not ask you to,
Even without me knowing that you did
And now that I have stumbled and fallen
You’re blaming me for my mistakes
It’s unfair, but I understand
Because I’ve been there…
I’ve set expectations on people
Then blamed them for disappointing me
When all along, I was setting myself up
For disappointments and hurts
When I set unfair expectations
On them, especially on those I love…
If there’s one important lesson
I learned from these experiences, it is
That it’s always for the best of everyone
To just accept them as they are
And allow them to err and grow
Difficult, I know, because until now
This is my constant battle with myself
But try it, just try it, and you’ll realize
That it’s freeing not just for them
But ultimately, for you as well.

Indigo Skies with a Tinge of Pink

Chanced upon this lovely view last weekend.

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I already spotted the colorful skyline when I exited Grand Mall and was feeling wistful during the taxi ride to Plantation Bay since I couldn’t take a shot. Imagine my delight then when upon arrival at the resort, these beautiful views greeted me. I immediately got out of the cab, left my groceries on the floor (te he!) then snapped a couple of photos.

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Photos taken at Plantation Bay Resort and Spa, my workplace and home for nearly 5 years now.

Batanes: Day 4

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This is our free day in Batanes since the tour that we got was only for 3 days (most tours in Batanes are only for 2-3 days).  Note that we paid Php 500 to Kuya Jun as transportation/guide fee for this leg of our trip.

Despite our aching limbs from our 2-day exploration of Batanes, we had to wake up early to catch the faluwa back to Ivatan port.

No one was up in Sabtang Heritage/Tourism Office so we left our payment on the side table then headed to the local panaderia (bakeshop) to buy hot pan de sal for breakfast.  This was recommended by our Day 3 guide, Michael (pardon the photo quality since it was so dark).

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I must say that this was the kind of oven-made pan de sal that I missed.  It tasted so much like the pan de sal that’s available in our neighborhood bakery back home in Aklan.

At the port, I took some photos while waiting for the faluwa.

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PhotoGrid_1395664837541Note that the photos of the faluwa at sea were zoomed-in shots.

I also took photos of the lighthouse.

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What a serene view on a rather cloudy day!

On the opposite side of the lighthouse is this equally beautiful view:

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Which was the perfect vantage point for the rising sun…

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Beautiful!

At Ivatan Port, Kuya Jun picked us up then dropped us off at Rapitan di Vasay, where we had breakfast.  Both Kuya Ireneo (Rapitan’s caretaker) and Kuya Jun encouraged us to go to the school later and check out the agro-industrial fair.

After some nap and freshening up, we headed to Basco Central School and true enough, saw some students selling some Batanes products like vegetables, delicacies, and streetfood.

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It was a trip down memory lane.  Seeing the children playing and lining up for streetfood brought me back to my elementary years of saving up my baon for simple treats like ice cream or kakanin.

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These snacks cost me Php 45 (ice cream was at Php 10, tukneneng was at Php 15, cassava was at Php 10 and gulaman was also at Php 10).  Cheap, but delicious and truly a child (and a child-at-heart’s) treat!

At 1 PM, Kuya Jun picked us up at Rapitan and brought us to Fundacion Pacita for lunch (details on a future post).

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After lunch, we headed to the market to buy pasalubong and chanced upon these cow and egrets.

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It was quite a challenge getting these shots since the egrets were prone to moving away each time they feel our presence from as far as 12 meters.  Plus, the cows also wouldn’t stay still!

At the market, we found some of Batanes’ specialties like turmeric, Ginger Tea and delicacies like ube chips and bukayo.

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I also found a Batanes shirt (I bought one for myself for Php 200) and bought 3 packs of bukayo at Php 30 per pack as pasalubong for my friends.

Afterwards, we asked Kuya Jun to bring us to someplace where we can see the sunset.  He obliged, and brought us to Chadpidan Boulder Beach.

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Like Valugan Boulder Beach, Chadpidan is also not a swim-able beach because the waves are so strong.  It’s one beautiful beach, though.

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From the color of the sky, I could tell that the sun was about to set, but I really couldn’t see it because of the mountain range that was blocking our view.

And so we asked Kuya Jun to bring us to another location.  He suggested Rolling Hills and asked if it was okay with us since we’ve been there already.  We said yes, knowing that this time around, we were there for the sunset.

 While waiting for the sunset, I took photos of the place.

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And when sunset came, I was dumbstruck at how beautiful it was.

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I did not regret going back to Rolling Hills because the view was worth it!

I also learned something new on this trip and that is to use my sunglasses as some sort of filter.

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See how the tone changed from orange-yellow to orange-red?  Thanks, J, for the photography tip.

And thus concludes our tour of breathtakingly beautiful Batanes (we actually have a 5th day, but we did not do any tours because we had an early flight back to Manila).

Batanes: Day 3

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Day 3 was a trip to Sabtang Island, the smallest island of Batanes.  Inclusions of our tour were the following: Brgy. Savidug, Lime Beach, Tiñan Viewpoint, Brgy. Chavayan, Sabtang Weaver’s Association, Ahaw Arc, and Nakabuang Beach.  Note that this was originally a day tour, but my friend and I opted to spend the night in Sabtang to make the most of our visit in this island (we did this by going to Fisherman’s Village).

Here are my photos from this day:

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After an early breakfast at Rapitan di Vasay, we headed to Ivana port to catch the boat that would take us to Sabtang.  The port is right in front of Ivana’s Church and since the boat was yet to depart, we spent our idle time at the church.

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I already mentioned in a previous post that Ivana’s Church is named after St. Joseph the Worker.  We only passed by this on Day 2 of our Batanes tour and up close, I found out from its signage that this was originally a chapel built in 1787.

Behind the current church are the ruins of the original church.

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Boat Ride to Sabtang
This was definitely one of my scariest boat rides.  The choppy waters strongly rocked our small boat.  We were told though that our experience was as smooth as any Sabtang boat ride could go since the weather’s good.  Yikes!  And I thought it couldn’t get any worse.

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A trivia: In Batanes, they call their boats faluwa.

Sabtang Lighthouse
We were greeted by this beautiful view upon arrival at the island.

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This is the third lighthouse that I saw in Batanes.  We did not go here though, and just contented ourselves with taking its photo from afar.

The Tour
Note that during this part of our tour, we changed drivers and eventually, tour guides because Kuya Jun had to catch the 2 PM faluwa back to Ivatan.  We were introduced to Michael who mostly acted as our driver instead of a guide (he only spoke when asked).

Our tour here started out in a scary way.  You see, we were welcomed by this little green guy on our way to Savidug (lower left photo of the collage):

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Sorry I had to include it in my collage of interesting flora from this trip.  I was trying to save space.  He he.  Anyway, Kuya Jun and Michael said this particular snake is harmless, but it was still scary to have him sneak on us and suddenly take that ready-to-strike pose  la rattlesnake when my friend got near it.

By the way, I don’t know what the yellow flower is called.  I just found it interesting.  The red and black fruits are berries (according to this post, it’s Batanes Pine/Arius or Podocarpus costalis, which only grows in Batanes).  The pulpy fruit tasted sweet, but I forgot its name.  It is the fruit of one tall tree (the branches’ photo is on the upper left of the collage) and we were lucky we got to taste this since according to Kuya Jun, it’s rare to chance upon this fruit.

The Stone Houses in Savidug

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Savidug is famous for its traditional stone houses.  Unlike in Basco where the houses are far from each other, the stone houses here are the opposite, and in rows.

It was interesting to see their thatched roofs.  Some were also still being built, or renovated.

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Lime Beach
This is where Ivatans make the lime that they use to bind their stone houses.  Interestingly, this used to be a fortress.

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I find it off that there are human bone fragments scattered around the place.

“Sleeping Beauty”

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This is right in front of the Lime Beach.  Note the top mountain range with what looked like an outline of nose and lips.  It does look like a woman lying down, doesn’t it?

Tiñan Viewpoint

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Definitely a must-see when in Batanes.  This viewpoint provides a stunning view of the coasts of Sabtang.

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Some interesting flora from Tiñan viewpoint:

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The palm-like plant is locally called voyavoy.  It is actually a dwarf palm belonging to the genus Phoenix.  Kuya Jun said its leaves are used to make men’s vests and women’s headgear.  I forgot what the red fruits are called, but they tasted a little like duhat.

Chavayan Village
Another village popular for its traditional stone houses and more importantly, weaving.

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Unfortunately, there was no ongoing weaving session when we were there.  There was an old lady working on a vakul (headdress), but she charges for photo-ops so we just borrowed her weaving tool and the vakul that she’s working on.

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When in Chavayan, make sure to go to the edge of the village where the view of its shoreline is picture-perfect (I have a better photo of this from my Beautiful Batanes teaser post).

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Nakabuang Beach
The highlight of our tour.  Fine sand, clear waters from the shore with darker shades of blue farther up, frothy waves, rugged cliffs and cottony clouds as backdrop…  This is one beautiful beach!

Nakabuang
There was no one here when we arrived (it was a weekday), though our guide told us that during the weekend, the place was teeming with tourists (this was collaborated by a group of 6 friends we met during dinner at Casa Napoli the night before, who complained about not getting the perfect jump shot at the arc or by the beach because there were other visitors).  We were thus pleasantly surprised to have the beach by ourselves.

Ahaw Arc
Definitely Sabtang Island’s most photographed attraction.

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Unlike that group of friends who couldn’t get a solo shot of Ahaw Arc, I had all the time in the world to have my picture taken here as evident on earlier’s collage of photos.

Lunch
This is included in the tour package that we got.  Here’s Kuya Jun and ate preparing our lunch:

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See, we had the place to ourselves that we could dine right underneath Sabtang’s famous arc.  And just look at that beautiful setting and the food!

We had squid, the Ivatan dish vunes (a vegetable dish made of gabi stalks), tatus (coconut crab), fish soup, and my favorite, halayang ube (ube and gabi are root crops) for dessert.  Nom nom.

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It was a sumptuous lunch and the only thing I didn’t like was the water because it had an aftertaste.

A travel tip to those who want to visit Nakabuang Beach but do not want to book a tour package: Do bring packed meals because there are no stores here where you can buy any food or even a bottle of water.  The same group of friends we met shared how they, who were on a DIY-tour of Batanes, had no food come lunch time.  It’s a good thing their co-travelers who were on a package were nice enough to share their food/leftovers.

Exploring Nakabuang Beach
After lunch, we took our sweet time exploring this secluded beach, swimming, and just enjoying the view.

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We had a lot of time in our hands since our guide left us to bring Kuya Jun back to the port so he could go back to Ivatan.  We just agreed that Michael would just come back for us at 4 PM.

Fisherman’s Village
This is not included in our tour so we had to pay an additional Php 700.

The drive going to Fisherman’s Village was very scenic, though a little scary because of the winding, narrow road.

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At the village, we saw the same stone houses that we saw in the villages of Savidug and Chavayan.  Some scenes: fish that’s being dried, fishermen heading home after a day’s toiling, and a local painting a boat.

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My friend opted to stay in the village while I walked about a kilometer to get closer to the edge of the beach.  Here, the views were more beautiful, and I did not regret the tiring walk to get here.

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Because we were told that unless pre-arranged, no one would make our dinner, we bought some chips and canned goods at a store in Fisherman’s Village then headed back to the port to check-in at Sabtang Tourism Office.

Sabtang Accommodations
Accommodations here is cheap.  It’s at Php 300 per person.  Don’t expect much, though.  It is just a place to sleep in.

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Note that there’s no shower and to take a bath here, you have to use a pail and dipper.  There’s no hot water too.  Moreover, power interruptions/blackouts are common in Sabtang Island.  Make sure to bring a flashlight and spare batteries or power banks for your gadgets.

Our humble dinner
As mentioned, we had canned tuna and sardines for dinner.  Michael provided the rice.

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The photos from this collage are dark because there was a blackout.  Over this simple meal, my friend and I reminisced about how simple life is in the province (both of us grew up in the province and only went to the city to study and work).  Simple, but definitely stress-free.

And thus was how we spent our day 3 in breathtakingly beautiful Batanes.

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