Tag Archives: Batanes

Photo+Text: Wanderlust

wanderlust

The above photo was taken in Batanes using my trusty Canon Powershot G12.  Painting effect courtesy of my Sony Cyber-shot Digital Camera RX 100 II.  Border added using the Android app Pixlr-o-matic.

I chose the above quote since it’s something I can very well relate to.  Since being bitten by the travel bug when I traveled to Ilocos from Manila for a class trip in 2000, I’ve been traveling non-stop.   To date, I had been to the US, Russia, Cambodia, Thailand, Singapore, Hong Kong, Macau, Korea, Japan, and Vietnam.  I have also visited about 30 of the country’s 60 provinces.

Travel has such a profound effect on me. I love the experience.  I love not just seeing places but learning from different cultures.  Travel teaches me to  respect other people’s traditions and appreciate diversity. It ignites my sense of adventure and the change in scenery rejuvenates my spirit.

Batanes: Monica’s Cottage and Catering

This is where we had our lunch during our Day 2 in breathtakingly beautiful Batanes. Note that this lunch is included in the Php 6,200 tour that we got from Noel.

Our lunch was not yet ready when we arrived so my friend and I took turns donning the whole traditional clothing of the Ivatan people, which was displayed on the wall. PhotoGrid_1396783117765

I already shared a teaser post of me wearing a vakul (an abaca fiber-made headgear worn by Ivatans as protection from the sun or rain) on my Day 2 post. This time, I’m sharing photos of me in full Ivatan garb.

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While vakul is typically worn by women, I chose to wear kanai (vest) and tangkal (hat) plus a native basket where they put their catch for the day.  According to Kuya Jun, the vest and hat are usually worn by men, but they make better props for a shoot so I had them.  Te he!

When our lunch was served, I was amazed at the variety and serving size considering that there were only two of us.

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Isn’t it nice how the food was served in breadfruit leaves? If only I knew of this as a child, I could have spared myself the task of washing dozens of dishes at home. He he.

We had fish escabeche, grilled fish, battered chicken in sticks, seaweed soup, and breadfruit in coconut milk, then bukayo for dessert and fresh buko (young coconut) juice for our drinks.

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I loved the battered chicken, soup, and breadfruit in coconut milk.  And the coconut juice was sweet and its meat just right.  The escabeche was salty (I prefer my escabeche to have the right mix of saltiness and sweetness) while the fish was overcooked and tough. Nevertheless, it was a good meal, especially when we had this view.

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Note that Monica’s Cottage also offers accommodations for as low as Php 300 per person per night. It’s cheaper than what Basco accommodations cost, but you’ll be far from the town proper. Nevertheless,you get close access to the beach (just a couple of steps from the cottage).

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The beach was predominantly rocky, especially during low tide, but the water’s clear.  It’s also swim-able, though you have to go farther up to avoid the rocks.  Plus, it has a good view of the mountains.

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Contact Monica’s Cottage and Catering though +63 908 505 4765 or +63 905 553 1738.

Batanes: Fundacion Pacita

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Fundacion Pacita is a nature lodge nestled atop rolling hills.  It used to be the home studio of renowned artist Pacita Abad.

We visited Fundacion Pacita twice when we were in Batanes.  The first time was on our first day in the island since like most Batanes tours,  it was included in our itinerary.  Seeing this beautiful view made us decide to come back and try its restaurant.

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On that first day, we just made a quick tour of its grounds.  I loved their blue swing and seats and the colorful tire installations.

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I also found a wall decor made of recycled materials, a sculpture of Madonna and Child and wall with graffiti.

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There were sculptures too of the Abad ancestors.

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We went back to Fundacion Pacita on our fourth day to have lunch.  Note that to dine here, prior reservation is required.

Their restaurant is located right at the edge of the main house and on our way there, we passed by its living room, which had an artist profile of Ms. Abad as well as some of her artworks.

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True to the place being an artist’s haven, each nook and cranny was tastefully decorated.

Here’s a collage of photos of their restaurant, which looked more like a cosy dining area in a family home than a restaurant.

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The view from the corner seats was amazing.  I wanted to sit here, but the table was too small for us.

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After waiting for nearly an hour, our order finally arrived.

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We had the following:

1 Paco Salad Php 140
1 Pork Sinigang Php 410
2 Rice Php 60
1/2 French Chicken with roasted sweet potato Php 410
2 Mango Graham Php 140
1 Tea Php 50
Total: Php 1,210

I loved their Paco Salad, which was the only food I liked.  The Pork Sinigang was salty and the chicken was bland (I liked the roasted sweet potato, though), while my mango graham tasted better than theirs.

My verdict?  This was our most expensive meal in Batanes, but the most disappointing.  To top it all off, the service was super slow even when we were the only diners.  It was annoying to wait half an hour for our change, and when it was finally given, there was no apology from the staff.

Good thing my friend and I were entertained by these creatures who became my subject when my friend taught me about macro photography.  Pardon my amateurish attempt.

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I also found some interesting flora.

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Despite the unsatisfactory dining experience, I decided that I will still visit Fundacion Pacita when I come back to Batanes mainly because of the view, which is really stunning.

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Fundacion Pacita is located in Brgy. Chanarian-Tukon, Basco, Batanes.  Visit their official website for more information.

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.

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).