Friday, May 30, 2008

Travel to Batanes, Philippines

The following is an email from my friend Darn. This reminds me of our earlier attempt to visit Batanes. Batanes is the northern-most island of the Philippines - rocky, windy, with temperamental weather. Four of us: Darn, Mila, Joy, and I were in the Manila Domestic Airport, with tickets and bags in our heads, ready to go to Batanes for a few days. It turned out the flight was cancelled due to bad weather. The other passengers, possibly used to the erratic weather in Batanes, filtered away from the airport lounge. The four of us looked at one another to decide what we'd do. The general concensus was that people didn't want to go home. So up and down we walked, looking at the airline announcement boards, shopping for a place to go to. Palawan won, and we exchanged our tickets and flew to Palawan instead. We had a great time there. But this description of Batanes by Darn, leaves me curious about Batanes:

Hi to you all. Went to Batanes last weekend. Awesome place really! Everyone but everyone should go to this lovely province.

The 360 degree scenery of what they call Marlboro Country got me misty-eyed. (OA ba?) Think soft rolling hills of pasture land meeting the sea. Somebody wrote in a magazine that if you're looking for God, you'll find him in Batanes. I completely agree.

According to our guide, another visitor so overtaken by the beauty of the place, spewed expletives, saying "pa-Maldives-Maldives pa tayo, nandito lang pala ito." (We went to Maldives, but Maldives is right here after all.)

And guess what, they have practically zero crime rate. The only ones in jail are some Taiwanese for encroaching on Philippine waters.

At hindi pa nalulugi yung "HONESTY STORE" where nobody keeps watch (Even the Honesty Store doesn't lose money). In fact, business is thriving for the lady owner. Busy siya sa likuran making sugar cane vinegar & garlic orders. The Ivatans seem to be a hardworking lot which I suppose comes from their having to cope up with the many typhoons that pass their way.

The construction work in Sto. Domingo Church in Baser and the convent in Sabtang Island are done bayanihan style. Kasama ang mga kababaihan sa mga volunteer workers (The women are among the volunteers).

They have a low poverty incidence level - Walang gutom (no hunger) and no beggars. Hence the low crime rate. You can feel safe in Batanes. Can't say the same thing for Barcelona.

Got to see Pacita Abad's (the artist) house strategically perched, overlooking the Pacific or is it South China Sea? GANDA! (Beautiful!) They're gearing up the compound to take in transients in the next few months.

Those coming next year may want to consider spending 3 nights in Batanes. I promise you won't be disappointed. February till April would be a good time.

The downside lang - walang credit card charging pa sila. Took me by surprise. Pero meron daw naman ATMs. GO, all you nature-trippers.

And oh yes - we had lobsters and coconut crabs - the latter bawal maglabas or bring out of the province there are not too many of them I guess kaya pang local consumption lang.


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