The Scenic View of Batanes, Philippines
When visiting places, it is not enough that we see the city – the tall skyscrapers, hustle and bustle of people, and man-made architectural beauty. We should try to immerse ourselves in the rural landscape – mountainous tops, hospitable native tribes, and natural beauty.
And in the Philippines one rural landscape that should be seen by both Filipinos and foreigners is Batanes.
Hill in Batanes
Cows roaming the green hills in Batanes
PROVINCE OF BATANES
The northernmost and smallest province in the Philippines is BATANES. It is an island province consisting of ten islands. Out of the ten islands, only three are inhabited which happens to be the largest islands in the area; these include the islands Batan, Itbayat, and Sabtang.
The islands are approximately 162 kilometers north of Luzon Island (one of the three main islands in the Philippines) and 190 kilometers south of Taiwan.
Batanes experiences a fair share amount of rain. The rainiest month is during August, while April is the driest month. Temperature ranges from 22 to 28.5 degrees Celsius.
The natives of the province are known as Ivatan – a mixture of Babuyan (natives from the Cagayan Valley, Philippines) and Tao people (natives from Orchid Island, Taiwan).
An Ivatan woman wearing a vakul, an abaca fiber-made headgear for sunlight and rain protection
There are two main languages in the province. Ivatan is used on Batan and Sabtang Islands, while Itbayaten is used in Itbayat Island.
Traditional homes in Batanes are made out of limestone. These are sturdy materials that could withstand extreme environmental conditions in the province.
An Ivatan house: walls made of limestone and coral while rood is made from cogon grass
The best way to reach the province is via place. There are two airports in the province: Basco Airport and Itabayat Airport. However there are limited number of flight from Manila (the country’s capital) and Tuguegarao.
PLACES OF INTEREST
Basco is the provincial capital of Batanes and located on Batan Island. One of the domestic airports could be found here. It is a main entry and exit point to the province. Majority of the people live here.
The most notable landmark in Batanes is the Basco Lighthouse. The beauty of the surrounding blended with the magnificent lighthouse makes it a picturesque scene. The lighthouse itself stands at 66 feet or six-story.
The fifth floor is used as a viewing deck for tourists. From the viewing deck one could admire the scenery of the ocean, hills, as well as neighboring islands. Surrounding the lighthouse are Ivatan houses.
Basco Lighthouse is just one of the three lighthouses built in Batanes to guide seafarers and serves as an attraction sight. The other two lighthouses are located at Mahatao (Tayid Lighthouse) and Sabtang Island (Sabtang Lighthouse).
SANTO DOMINGO CHURCH
Aside from the city proper and the lighthouse, tourists should not miss Santo Domingo Church or Basco Cathedral. The church was built in dedication to Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception but the name of the church was obtained from the patron saint of Batanes who was Saint Domingo.
Mount Iraya on Batan Island is one of the active volcanoes in the country. The place is perfect for mountaineers and adventure seekers.
SAN JOSE DE IVANA CHURCH
A famous church in Batan Island is San Jose de Ivana Church or simply Ivana Church. Spaniards had a large impact in Christianity to the province. Because of this influence, a roman catholic church in dedication to Saint Joseph was established. In 2008 the church is a National Historical Landmark.
SAN CARLOS BORROMEO CHURCH
Another church in Batan Island is San Carlos Borromeo Church, also known as Mahatao Church. The church is dedicated to Saint Charles Borromeo whose feast day is celebrated every Fourth of July. In 2001, the church was declared a National Cultural Treasure.
Sabtang is the southernmost island municipality in Batanes Province. Well-known attractions of the municipality include the lighthouse, churches, and white beaches.
San Vicente Ferrer Church
White sand beach in Sabtang Island, Batanes, Philippines
VALUGAN BOULDER BEACH
Aside from fine white sand beaches, Batanes also offers a unique beach front. Instead of the usual fine white sand, tourists are greeted by boulders of igneous rocks. Swimming is not advisable in this part of the beach but, taking photographs during sunrise is perfect.
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