Featured Traveler: Breaktime in Batanes by Sandy Mahilom

a Travel feature by Sandy Mahilom

Batanes is one of the most beautiful provinces here in the Philippines. It will take your breath away upon seeing the amazing scenery. People in Batanes are called "Ivatan". They are kind and they kept the purity of their culture and traditions through the years. Some of the attractions here in Batanes are Honesty Shop, Traditional Stone Houses, Basco Light House, Morong Beach, and Marlboro Hills. It may be far from the city but I assure you that it's all worth it. Dios Mamajes Batanes!
Batanes is one of the most beautiful provinces here in the Philippines. It will take your breath away upon seeing the amazing scenery. It’s a 10-piece archipelago, with the three biggest islands being the only ones inhabited: Sabtang, Batan, and Itbayat. Sabtang and Itbayat are their own municipalities, while Batan is further divided into Basco, Ivana, Uyugan, and Mahatao. Although it is the capital, Basco isn’t a city but a small town. It is also where the main airport is located and the most populated.
If you’re planning to visit, here are tips on how you can spend a day in this amazing province.
Visit North Batan
In this place, you will see the preserved culture with a blend of breathtaking scenery. It consists of the whole of Basco–from the picturesque Valugan boulder beach, Vayang rolling hills, and Basco lighthouse, to the Mount Carmel Chapel, Fundacion Pacita, the Japanese tunnels and more.

One of my favorite spots is the Vayang Rolling Hills . Upon seeing the scenery, you will be amazed and relaxed. Be prepared for the strong wind in this spot and it depends on the weather, it may be windy or sunny.

You will also see the piles of rocks in Valugan Boulder Beach . The name Valugan comes from the Ivatan word meaning “east”, as the rock bay rests on the eastern edge of the island.

The Japanese Tunnel served as a shelter for Japanese soldiers in their war against Americans. Tourist can visit this place with the guidance of a tour guide.

The famous Basco Light House is situated in Nadi Hills. You can see the 360-degree view of the surroundings when you reached the 5th floor through a spiral staircase.
Let’s go to the South Batan
In this part, you will experience interesting sceneries, from the Chawa View Deck that allows you to see the gorgeous Batan Cliff, the Mahatao Shelter port that serves as a shelter to vessels bound for Itbayat and other boats during inclement weather, Tayid Lighthouse, and many more.
Two of the interesting part in this destination is the Racuh a Payaman (also known as Marlboro Country ) in which you will see the spectacular view of the rolling hills and it is indeed picture perfect.

The other one is the Honesty Shop . You get what you want and drop your payment on the box. This shop puts so much trust to its customers because as we all know, Ivatans are trustworthy and this province is famous for low crime rate.

What I love in this part is the hidden gem in Mahatao, which is the Rakuh ai-di or Fountain of Youth . It is a natural spring pool overlooking the beach and the cold water comes from the mountain. There is a waterfall on the side of the spring and locals said that the water here makes them young that's why it's called Fountain of Youth. But before you reach this, you will travel to Diura Village and hike for 30 mins and once you reached this, all your worries will fade at the moment.
Island hop in Sabtang.
This island is famous for its interesting views and amusing scenery. You should ride a boat called faluwa, that is built without outrigger so that it can ride the waves instead of going against them. Be prepared for the current because the travel may be shaky. This island consists of interesting landscapes.
One of the famous spots here is Savidug village , wherein it is home for different types of Stone Houses. They built this kind of house against the typhoon that usually occurs because of the location.

One of the great spots also here in Sabtang is Chamantad-Tinan Viewpoint where you can see the beautiful landscapes and Sabtang rolling hills that is truly breathtaking.

The Barrio Chavayan will let you experience the old days and you can also found the Sabtang Weavers Association, an organization of women who weave vakul, a headgear that is designed to protect the wearer from the heat of the sun and rain. It is usually made from vuyabuy palm fiber.
And on this island, you can see Morong beach, commonly called Nakabuang beach, which is famous for its stone arch called Nakabuang Arch. The fine white sand and blue ocean are ideal for picture taking and picnic.
To sum it up, Batanes should be included in your bucket list. Some of the pictures don't do justice on the actual beauty of this place. It is surreal in the naked eye. It may be far from the city but I assure you that it's all worth it. Dios Mamajes Batanes! See you again!