Thursday, 3 March 2011


"National Road"
A dream destination for the past 2 decades. I have been dreaming of going to Batanes since I watched that local movie that was entirely shot here. I remember telling myself: "I will go there." Talk about claiming it!

Everything conspired for me to finally step on this breathtaking place.

And it did not disappoint. I spent 4 whole days exploring the 2 beautiful islands. Photo shoot workshop with Mandy Navasero, swimming, trekking, spelunking and meeting new friends.

This year's (2010) Holy Week was spent appreciating how beautiful the Lord's creation truly is.
Thanks Mandy for sharing Batanes with us, and sharing your knowledge of photography.

Basco has a total population of only 16,000+. A place with zero crime rate, I wish I can live here forever.

This is where I finally had a fill of Batanes' famous coconut crab for dinner. So yummy!

Day 1

Dinaysupuan Japanese Tunnel
There are several Japanese tunnels scattered around Batanes. We went to one that is 250meters long that leads to 5 different exits. 

The trek down and up the claustrophobic tunnel is something I would not do again, at all.  But it is a good experience for first-timers.

Naidi or Basco Lighthouse
The first lighthouse in Batanes, it is located on Naidi Hills. Enjoy a spectacular view of the Batanes rolling hills and the South China Sea.

Naidi (Basco) Lighthouse
Tukon Chapel
A relatively new chapel, this is a project of the Abad family. Constructed on a hill, it has a commanding view of Batan Island and the South China Sea.

The church has charming stained glass windows and a ceiling mural of Saints. A beautiful place for an intimate wedding.
Tukon Church
Fundacion Pacita

Probably the best place to stay in the whole of Batanes, for now. A bit away from town, it gives you a commanding view of Batan's hedgegrows, rolling hills and the sea. You feel like you are on top of the world and you own those land as far as your eyes can see.

Cozy, wonderfully artsy.

"This Batanes resort was once the home studio of internationally-acclaimed artist Pacita Abad. It was lovingly refurbished by her brother, former DepEd Secretary Butch Abad, who envisioned the nature lodge to provide peaceful accommodations amid a lush garden. Every room was designed to resemble a gallery, with the walls adorned by masterpieces of both well-known and up-and-coming artists." (from Fundacion Pacita's website)

Fundacion Pacita

Tukon is where the northernmost weather station is located. Also the reason why Batanes is always used as reference during typhoons.

The place has a commanding view of the hedgegrows and Mt. Iraya. It also has a 360degree view of Batan Island. Windy, but the view is so calming here.

PAG-ASA Station as seen from that "sundial"
View from Tukon Hill/PAG-ASA Base
Captivating view of the South China Sea
Hedgegrows of Batan Island
Valugan Boulder Beach

For sure a haven for landscape photographers, this beach is littered with boulders where one can have a handful as foreground. A great place to catch the sunrise. 

The boulders are andesite rocks spewed by Mt. Iraya and has since been polished by the bashing of the waves. 

Enjoy making suk thap here, or just listen to the sound of the wind and crashing waves from the Pacific Ocean, making a unique symphony every day.

Boulders Beach

Day 2

We went to the Southern part of Basco Island.

Chawa View Deck/ Mahatao View Deck

A good place to take that souvenir photo with the rolling hills or the South China Sea as background. There is a 100-plus step down to the adjacent hill to take more photos and test your endurance.

Basco coastal road from the Look-out

Yes, a souvenir shot it should be. With fellow globetrotter and friend, Irah. (photo taken on my 2nd trip to Batanes)
Mahatao Church

Or San Carlos Borromeo Church. The first church was built on the same site in 1787. After it was destroyed by typhoon, this church we now see was built to replace it.

Recognized by NCCA as a National Cultural Heritage Treasure.

Mahatao Church

Mahatao Church
Mahatao Pier

A name, I am sure, they just coined for this place found south of town and further than Mahatao. We had our lunch here and enjoyed the remote feel of the area. Being summer and no other person in sight, you really feel you are in the middle of a Mexican wilderness.

Honesty Store

Located in Ivana, an unmanned store that has attained worldwide fame, showcasing Ivatan's honesty.  With no seller in sight, the owner relies on a person's honesty to pay whatever he/she has taken from the store.

group shot @ Honesty Store

San Jose de Ivana Church

The present church was built in 1814, it has a commanding view of the sea. Built right across the Ivana Port or Radiwan Port.

San Jose de Ivana

San Jose de Ivana
Fisherman @ Ivana Port
Falowas @ Ivana Port

House of Dakay and Stone Houses

Ivana is strewn with stone houses, Batanes' sturdy weather proof homes. The century-old stone house and the oldest woman in the island is also found here in Ivana.

stone house

the oldest woman in Batanes at the House of Dakay
White Beach

Where we had our lunch and portraiture lecture.  It was low tide when we were there, so we enjoyed our lunch, the lecture and frolicking on the beach.

Day 3

Santo Domingo de Basco Church

One of the oldest churches in Batanes, its structure was built in 1783. The church is dedicated to the Batanes' patroness, Immaculate Conception.

Santo Domingo de Basco Church

"Dawn Zulueta" Hill

Located somewhere near Imnajbu, this hill was so called because it was one of the locations for the local film "Hihintayin Kita sa Langit". Nothing spectacular except that it is where the locals in Imnajbu go to, to get a cellphone signal (no, I am not kidding!). Oh, and the view from up the hill is also beautiful.

Beach you see from the hill
hills around the Dawn Zulueta hill
Dawn Zulueta Hill

crashing waves viewed from the hill

Marlboro Country (Rakuh-A-Payaman)

Perched on a hill overlooking the Pacific Ocean, this is by far the most breathtaking place in Batan Island. You feel so stunned by its beauty, it is but just natural to say a little prayer of thanks for witnessing such masterpiece.

Stunning view of the rolling hills, the hedgegrows, the Mahatao Lighthouse and Mt. Iraya, it is one of the favorite places of nature lovers and photographers.  And mine, too!

Beware, it is very windy up there and a bit cooler late in the afternoon.

Marlboro Country (photo taken on my 2nd trip to Batanes)

Marlboro Country
Fountain of Youth (Rakuh-A-Idi Spring)

Locals call this the fountain of youth. Whether there is truth to it or not, its cool spring water provides relief to tired feet and body after a long trek to get to this place. There is an Our Lady of Lourdes grotto on the site.

The place is located in Diura, the oldest part of Mahatao where the ancient Ivatans used to live.

Fountain of Youth
Going back, we took the other route that will include spelunking on "crystal" covered cave walls.

Diura Fishing Village
A very small village, 3km from Mahatao, facing the Pacific Ocean. Jump-off point to the Fountain of youth. Government has several traditional houses here that it rents out to tourists.

Diura Village (Photo by EV Espititu/Inquirer Northern Luzon)

Day 4

Sabtang Island is the smallest island of Batanes. It has an unspoilt, uninhabited feel to it, you will be amazed at how the people living in the island where able to live.

So remote in fact,  that the radio stations they can pick up are almost always those from Taiwan. So remote, that my cellphone is showing its "roaming" Globe ID.

But the place is beyond words. Just like the rest of Batanes, Sabtang is so peaceful, so quiet, yet so beautiful.  The old stone houses, the bucolic life, the amazing vistas.

Sabtang Lighthouse
We went around the island and had our delicious lunch at Nacabuang Beach. Most of my photos here are from my 2nd visit. I guess I was too busy taking in the amazing scenery, I was stupefied and forgot to take more photos. :)

Sabtang Port Arc
Sabtang Island

Sabtang Island can be accessed from Basco via a falowa ferry. We were blessed by a sunny weather but a pretty much rough ride. Some of us needed the "bag". Trips to Sabtang are usually cancelled when the seas are rough and or when there are impending bad weather.

The people of Sabtang are friendly and welcoming. We interacted with the youth and the old. We conducted "Read-A-Loud" (a project of Mandy Navasero) activity for kids.
children of Sabtang
oldest man

Lunch was at Nacabuang Beach. It was so good we forgot to take a photo of each food. Obviously we were too hungry. Lobsters, fish, pork, vegetables and fruits. It was a perfect lunch for a perfect venue.
Nacabuang Beach, Sabtang Island
Nacabuang Beach
Batanes is indeed a breathtaking place! A totally different place--so unlike a typical Philippine rural scenery. With the 4 days, I only managed to take a few snaps. Never even had the chance to practice my landscape photography, which merely means, I have to go back! Yes!  Because there are still more to explore plus Itbayat Island!

Location: Batan Island, Sabtang Island
Accessibility:  As of Feb 2013, Airphil Express has announced flights to Basco 
                         starting May 2013 with flights every Monday, Wednesday and Friday.

                        The fastest and most reliable way to Batanes from Manila is via SEAIR  
                         ( (Temporarily not available)

                        Skyjet ( is now the only one with regular flights to Basco.

                        Other modes (and may not be as reliable):   
                         via Currimao, Ilocos or Sta. Ana, Cagayan onboard a boat for 9 hours by
                                Misubi Sea Transport Cooperative (0921-5737857; 0906-3099509)
                         via Manila and Tuguegarao on SkyPasada (; (632) 

                         via Tuguegarao on Batanes Airlines (0908 – 5681816;0920 – 5232191;
                                 0919 - 6394090)

                          via Laoag and Tuguegarao on Air Republic (Fare: approx P4,500 per way)

                           via  Tuguegarao on North Sky (Fare: Approx P4,500 per way)


  1. Befitting title. Batanes is truly breathtaking :)

  2. Thank you.Indeed! One of the most picturesque places in our country. :)

  3. Breathtaking Batanes indeed! That place is on our bucket list, kelan kaya makakalakwatsa ang aming bayong dyan:-)

  4. Hello! :) why not soon? :) or wait for Seair's promo fare to Basco. It cuts the cost of going there significantly. :)

  5. Batanes also my dream destination:) great photos

  6. i didn't know batanes is this gorgeous until i came to see this sight... im really coming there for a visit! thanks for adding my to do's! :)

    1. Thank you newtraveller! Batanes is really beautiful. A place that should be in every Filipinos' bucket list. :)

  7. I have been urging my friends to go to Batanes since 2006 but our schedules just wont jive. I do not want to go alone exploring the islands, but your photos are just amazing that i want to do it anyway! I made a promise that i'm never going out of the country until Batanes gets checked on my list of Philippine destinations. I have been keeping true to that promise ever since. I want to go to Batanes the soonest, not because I want to go out of the country soon, but the beauty of the place, just in photos are beyond gorgeous. I cannot wait to see it for real. Thanks for putting something up like this.

    1. Now is the best time to go while there are still promotional rates. You will not regret it. Thank you for dropping by. Glad to have convinced you more to make it happen soon.