Have you ever felt so awed by a sight that you were rendered speechless for a significant amount of time?
That's practically how we were the whole time when we were in Batanes, easily one of the most beautiful places in the Philippines. Last April, we were blessed with good weather and we reveled at the sprawling emerald lands and sloping hills set against the brightest of blue skies.
For a small island, there is so much to explore in this province in the Cagayan Valley Region, with each municipality having its own unique beauty.
Today, I give you the island of North Batan.
Basco Town Proper
On the morning of our first day, we decided to just bike around , letting our happy feet lead us to wherever they want to. Without any map or mobile app to guide us, we actually stumbled upon some pretty interesting places.
The Yaru Nu Artes Ivatan Cooperative and Gallery Art Center
The moment I saw the gallery's colorful facade from afar, I immediately pedaled towards it. And as if the outside wasn't eye-candy enough, the inside was filled with impressive works of art by local artists.
|Local art. I wanted to take home a piece. Or two. Or three. Hahaha.|
Our Lady of Immaculate Concepcion Cathedral
Practically all churches and chapels in Batanes have similar structure and design which is very reminiscent of our Spanish influences.
I wanna strangle myself for not taking a photo of the viewing deck itself but, BUT, at least we were able to take this nice photo of ourselves on the deck hihi.
After lunch, we decided to rent a tricycle to bring us to the farther areas in Northern Batan. Our driver, Kuya Toto, brought us to the places that are typically in the list of guided tours.
Mt. Carmel Chapel or (more popularly known as) the Tukon Chapel
This chapel--owned by the Abads, the most powerful clan in the province--was built by local masons and carpenters following the design of the traditional Ivatan stone houses. They say this was the dream of the parents of current Budget Secretary Butch Abad who wanted to build a chapel that they, and the locals in the community, can just walk to (the nearest church then was the Santo Domingo De Guzman Cathedral which was about three kilometers away). They never saw the dream come to life but Sec. Abad ensured that it became a reality.
TRIVIA:The word "tukon" means mountain in the Ivatan language which is a suitable name for the chapel as the scenery surrounding it falls under the shadow of Mount Iraya.
According to Kuya Toto, the images covering the ceiling are of patron saints standing in front of the churches of the six municipalities of Batanes and were painted by local artists.
Fundacion Pacita Batanes Nature Lodge
We skipped Fundacion Pacita that day (because we started our tour late and wanted to get to the other locations in time for sunset) but here is a magnificent view of the most popular boutique hotel in the province. It was owned by the internationally-acclaimed artist Pacita Abad (also of the Abad clan) and was refurbished by her brother, Sec. Abad.
Valugan Boulder Beach
This part of North Batan offers a magnificent view of the Pacific Ocean. It's called "boulder beach" because of the enormous stones spewed by Mount Iraya that ended up there.
Vayang Rolling Hills
It honestly took all of my willpower not to run around and roll down the sloping hills of Vayang! This, I believe, is one of the spots that epitomizes the landscape that Batanes is known for.
It is a proven haven for photographers some of whom, upon our arrival, have already secured their spots while waiting for the sunset.
We, on the other hand, chose another location for our sunset experience.
By the time we arrived in the area, the sky was already tinged with pink and orange hues. We waited for quite a while but didn't get the fiery sunset that we expected because the sun was hidden behind a thick sea of clouds.
But it still made for a great view. And you would agree, the cows were quite photogenic too ;)
Coming up next: the Island of Sabtang :)