New Zealand of the Philippines - Batanes

New Zealand of the Philippines - Batanes

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Hello Batanes!

A roundtrip ticket from Manila to Batanes would cost you $270 - $300. That's a fortune especially for a poor backpacker like me. Good thing, my friend managed to score a promo ticket from Skyjet Airlines for $100. I hopped to an 80-seater chartered plane by 5:45am and got off at around 7:00am. I can recall how ecstatic I was seeing Batanes’ landscapes for the first time.

Ryan Cardona of BISUMI Tour and Services hooked us up with a tricycle driver (instead of an A/C van) to guide us in the island. Another cheap negotiation right there. You may contact him at +63919 2795 963 or +63915 8034 582. 

Fun fact: the province of Batanes in the Philippines consists of a handful of islands, literally, like you can count them using your hands. Three of which are inhabited; namely, Itbayat, Batan and Sabtang. Our itinerary covers the two out of these three. 

The usual tour in Batanes can be as short as 4D/3N to as long as 2 weeks depending on your itinerary. The typical itinerary is consist of North Batan Tour then Sabtang Tour in day 2, then South Batan in Day3. Day 4 you fly out to Manila - due to limited flights. At least, this was what I did when I visited. 

 Day 1: Northern Batan Island Tour
         Boulder Beach in Valugan
         WWII Japanese Hideout/Tunnel
         Basco Idjang Viewing
         Fundacion Pacita Nature Lodge
         Mt. Carmel Chapel
         Sto. Domingo Church
         Vayang Rolling Hills
         Basco Lighthouse in Naidi Hills

Ivatan Food Platter (Turmeric rice – native yellow rice due to yellow ginger or turmeric, Lobsters, Coconut crabs, Flying fish, Squid, Uvud balls, Pako, Liempo, Beef Ribs)

Day 2: Sabtang Island Tour
         San Vicente Ferrer Church
         Brgy. Savidug Stone Houses
         Sto. Thomas Aquinas Chapel
         Chamantad Tinyan Viewpoint
         Sabtang Weavers Association
         Brgy. Chavayan Stone Houses
         Malakdang Lighthouse
         Mayahaw (Natural Arc Formation)
         Morong Beach (swimming and snorkeling are optional)

Day 3:  Southern Batan Tour
         Paderes Point and Cliff Road, Chawa Viewing Deck
         Mahatao Boat Shelter Port (very Game of Thrones location)
         San Carlos Borromeo Church
         Mahatao Spanish Lighthouse
         Mahatao Tayid Lighthouse
         Racuh a Payaman (Marlboro Hills)
         Alapad Hills and Rock formation
         Lo-Ran Old Naval Base
         Our Lady of Miraculous Medal in Itbud
         Ruins of Song-song
         San Antonio de Florencia Church in Uyugan
         Honesty Store (near Ivana Port, you can swing by here before going to Sabtang, Day 2)
         San Jose de Ivana Church and Ruins (you can squeeze this too in Day 2)
         House of Dakay
         Old Spanish Bridge
         White Beach
         Hohmoron Lagoon

***You could also opt for an Itbayat Tour (town of Itbayat) if you want to maximize your Batanes stay. It takes about 3-4 hours boat ride for you to be able to get there.

Wow, I got tired typing these places. But, that was never the case back then, when we were jumping from one place to another, crossing place after place off of our list. The whole day tour started at 9:00am. I went out with my hoodie, prepared to face the Batanes sun and boy was I in awe-gasm the whole time. We capped the day off with a beer or two while I sang my heart out in a karaoke at a local bar we found while roaming around. On one hand, I wanted for Basco to have rave bars and a wild nightlife. On the other, I wanted to preserve its serene atmosphere. Maybe it’s just the alcohol messing with my head.

A friendly reminder: Bring as much cash with you if you’re an impulsive buyer. There’s only one ATM at Basco. It so happened when we were there, the machine was defective. I was short in cash and didn’t know how in the world will I get back to Manila. Good thing, my friend Migs always had emergency cash in times of dire need.

Day 4: Departure

When I posted the photos on my facebook page, I couldn’t help composing a few lines to the tune of Royals as I describe my Batanes feels:

I’ve never seen Batanes in the flesh
Its steep cliffs and rolling hills like the movie
And I’m not proud, this isn’t my address
These picturesque towns with my multiple selfies.

End Notes, Tips and Advice

Please utilize the different social media platforms to your advantage. Be patient in finding seat sales of various airlines or travel sites. These promos are there, trust me, you just have to exert extra effort in getting one that fits you and your budget. Your little effort can save you a lot of money. I know Batanes is one of, if not, the most expensive travel destinations here in PH. But hey, don’t fret. You can work your way around it with careful planning. Search for promos and book early! Scout all the available itineraries online, mix and match those to your preference. A DIY trip can be tedious but rewarding at the same time.

Batanes is indeed a precious gem in the north boasting its impeccable cliffs and landscapes. Yes, we can google images, bookmark blogs, and play vimeo or gopro videos of Batanes. But the one thing that strikes me as I brush my existence in this wonderful island is the locals. The people, you can’t just search them in the web—you have to experience socializing with them yourselves. They are the most kind and most honest people I have ever met. One example is our guide. I can remember how he would always nod and smile to the people he met on the road as he drove us to different locations. At first, I thought they knew each other; but when we got to the southern part of Batan, he’s still nodding and smiling at everybody. This is when I thought to myself, this couldn’t be, maybe he’s a politician or a barangay officer. Then it hit me, that’s their nature. Simple as that. He even told us that you can leave your bike at the side of the road and come back the next day and your bike will still be there, unscathed, untouched. Hence, the Honesty Store – you probably heard a thing or two about this magnificent concept.

It was an honor meeting you, Batanes. You showed me places I couldn’t even put into words. What made my trip more special was meeting the locals, thank you for welcoming us with such warmth and purity. Til we meet again.
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