Batanes (Part 2 of 3) – North Batan and Diura

Before we left Chavayan, we walked around the barrio to admire the stone houses. I can only imagine how hard it would be for me to live here: electricity is only available from 6 AM to midnight. I assume that most things are a bit more expensive here, for they must get their resources from Batan Island.

The Ivatans rely on both indigenous and modern ways to cope with their harsh environment. It was the first time I saw for myself how indomitable the human spirit is when I saw how the Ivatans fend for themselves by making the most out of their hostile environment. Along the road, it was common to see people tending their crops, harvesting cogon grass to make into vakul, or scouring the shoreline for humut, a type of tasty seaweed that grows on rocks near the shore. It’s true what they say about Batanes: nobody will ever die of hunger in these islands.

Our last stop for the day was Morong Beach, where we saw the picture-perfect Ahao Rock Formation. It was absolutely breathtaking. Even Kuya Gilly, our driver in Sabtang, enjoyed the sun and the sand as we went hunting for pretty and shiny shells along the beach.

We had lunch at the nearby Pananayan Canteen (09185212319/ 09085023900), a small restaurant where we had to make reservations for. For P400, we were able to sample the islands’ specialties:  luñis, the local adobo with fresh and sweet camote, eggplant, and potatoes; tatus, fleshy and tasty coconut crabs; turmeric rice and ginisang papaya; and humut soup. After our hearty meal, we went back to Batan and spent the afternoon biking around Basco. (Kidding! I don’t know how to ride a bike so I stayed at the inn and worked. Lucky there’s internet connection at our inn for my SmartBro plug-it was practically useless then.)

On our third day in Batanes, we explored the northern side of Batan, and we made sure that we had sunblock on. First, we visited Tukon Church (Mt. Carmel Church), a popular wedding venue for tourists (according to Kuya Lito, our driver and unofficial guide), and Fundacion Pacita, a swanky hotel (I heard a room costs P8000 a night!) with the best view of the town.  Then, we headed to the Japanese Tunnel, which was built by the Japanese (duh) during the Second World War. When we got to the site, I was surprised to find free helmets and flashlights for tourists to borrow. Free items at a tourist spot! Surely Batanes exists in a different universe than the rest of Luzon.

Next on our list was Valugan Boulder Beach, a postcard-perfect bay facing the Pacific Ocean. Kuya Lito said that these were washed ashore from the sea, but I also heard that  these boulders were spouted by Mt. Iraya after it erupted in 400AD. The ocean then smoothed the rocks over time. Well, I prefer the locals’ version. 🙂 This was my favorite part of our trip. The sight was absolutely breathtaking.

Then we headed to Vayang Rolling Hills, where the hills are aliiiiiive with the sound of music.

Finally, our last stop for the day: Diura Fishing Village. We were lucky we saw several dried dorados hanging beside the road. Selling for P800 a piece, these dorados must be hard to catch! I can’t imagine how it tastes like — I heard it tastes like talakitok. After paying an environmental fee of P50 at the town hall, we hiked for a bit to get to the Spring of Youth, a popular picnic site with a man-made pool. From the pool, we had a terrific view of the majestic Mt. Iraya framed by the Pacific Ocean.

For the final post, I’ll be sharing photos from South Batan! Yehey!

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