Blessed with God’s gift of life, family, and job, I had the chance to visit the famous island of Batanes with my family. Thanks to my wife that planned this trip six months ago.
Having been in the place for 3 nights and 4 days provided me information on the wonders of nature it offers to local and foreign tourists. Its land and water bodies amazed us upon our arrival. Added attraction are the preserved stone houses built centuries ago with some
attached stories relayed by the tour guide and local residents.
The community wrapped with simplicity that preserved its cultural heritage is an envy to other places that embraced entry of magnates that monopolize businesses to the detriment of local entrepreneurs. Aptly put, “business in Batanes is for its people”. The good thing about it is the local tourist guides share the significance of the Indigenous Peoples’ Right Act to their visitors.
Famous for its rolling hills and water bodies as an islands that receive rampaging water force from the West Philippine Sea and Pacific Ocean, it has limited beaches to offer. The richness of each island like “North and South Batan” and the island of Sabtang amaze every tourist that set foot on every tourist attraction. We failed to visit Itbayat as the weather situation is not favorable and the area had been previously hit by an earthquake.
Equally important is the presence of Catholic Churches in various locations that is open to the public as part of its major attractions. Generally, the influence of the Spaniards is manifested by the presence of church structures throughout the different municipalities. Our tour guide Justine mentioned that about 97% of the population are Roman Catholics. The remaining 3% are shared by other church denominations. Our family had the chance to attend the pre-new year evening mass at the San Carlos Borromeo Church in Mahatao town. The church was full that enjoyed the homily enhanced by the choir performance.
The presence of lighthouses strategically located in various parts of the different islands indicate different routes of water based transport system. Though the preferred mode of transportation is by air, various commodities reach the place through vessels. It was shared by our guide that infrastructure projects are often affected by the scarcity of construction materials in the place as it comes from either Manila, Region 1, and Region 2 and usually transported by water.
Economic activities include fishery, animal production and crop production coupled with small scale enterprises like sari-sari store, handicrafts, processed products, hotels, guesthouses, and home stays. It was observed that larger portion of the rolling hills are devoted to cattle raising with crop production that is more on subsistence farming.
Well-known in one part of the island is the Honesty Store owned by a retired teacher. It started small with limited items and gradually became famous that offers snacks, coffee and souvenir products usually paid on trust basis. The “no cashier and no service crew” as it promotes self-service makes the enterprise unique.
Gratitude to owner of Farmers Guesthouse (Tess), its caretaker Cecile and son Harold and company; to Justine and Richard of Chanpan Tours and Services, to all the people of Batanes and to Philippine Airlines for making the travel to the place a success.I might not have captured the whole picture of the places visited but can further write about it when time permits for another visit. Happy New Year to all!