Hello everyone! Nice to be back in sunny Bavaria after three weeks holiday in the Philippines. Allow me to share with you our first day in Batanes. Batanes is an archipelago province in the Philippines situated in the Cagayan Valley region. It is the northernmost province in the country, and also the smallest, both in population and land area. My mother and I took the plane to their capital city, Basco and we were shuttled to the hotel from the airport. The first thing that I’ve noticed was they looked after their environment. It is part of eco-tourism. Since it was still early, they gave us our breakfast then we freshened up in our room. We were so excited to stroll at the beach. We started the tour in the afternoon. A van picked us up, just the two of us. The tour guide is a native of the island, an Ivatan and he’s so friendly and knowledgeable of the area.
We started with Mt. Carmel Chapel, which is popularly known as Tukon Chapel. The design of the lovely Tukon chapel was based on the traditional Ivatan stone houses. It is a project spearheaded by the influential Abad family and nearby communities so they don’t need to travel far away to go to a church. The roof of the chapel is made of concrete red bricks and on its ceiling, one will be amazed of the prepossessing painting of different municipal saints which are painted by well-skilled Ivatan artists.
A short drive from the Chapel was the Tukon Radar Station of PAG-ASA. Strategically located at the top-most part of the island, perfect for weather monitoring purposes. We could also see the damage caused by the last typhoon. Just outside the Radar Station was the viewing deck which offers panoramic view of the island. On the East side was the Pacific Ocean and on the West side was the West Philippine Sea.
Then we walked to Idjang, which is a triangle shaped hilltop citadel in the island, made from limestone and wood. The Ivatan people of the northern islands of Batanes often built fortifications to protect themselves during times of war. They built their so-called idjangs on hills and elevated areas.
One of the attractions of the province is the Dipnaysupuan Japanese tunnel hidden in the hills of Tukon. It was built during the Japanese occupation of the country for the refuge of Japanese soldiers and lookout post. The entrance is low and one has to duck-walk towards the back until one can stand up. It is cold and damp and chilly inside.
There is no white sand here. Instead, countless boulders fill Valugan Beach, creating an incredible landscape framed by almost vertical cliffs and rolling hills.
Have a lovely week everyone!