What better way to test WordPress’ new gallery feature than a gallery of my Batanes pictures? I’ve been indulging my Batanes high by posting five Multiply albums (yes, five), but for this blog I have selected my favorite photos (I’ve spared you all the grinning photos of myself, he he).
Ten Best Reasons to go to Batanes (and I have to point out the list is by no means exhaustive):
- The place is so beautiful it’s almost impossible to take an ugly photo. People say that they feel that they’re in another country, because Batanes is so unique and so unlike the rest of the Philippines. Get over it, people. It’s the Philippines, and it’s beautiful. You have to go there at least once in your life, and put it way up in your list, before other foreign destinations like Hong Kong or Singapore or what-have-you.
- Ivatan culture is a distinct and rich heritage, and the people of Batanes are also pretty protective of it. However, heritage conservation is also hard, not to mention costly, work, and I hope that the province gets more support on this endeavor.
- The people are very friendly everywhere you go. I know that the phrase “friendly people” can be applied to a lot of places, but nowhere else have I encountered it to such as degree as in Batanes. Everywhere you go, people smile at you, the kids eagerly pose for pictures, and they humor your newly-learned Ivatan greeting of “Kapian ka pa nu Dios!” with the requisite reply “Kan imu pa” ever if your accent is pretty atrocious.
- The islands offer an interesting mix of adventurous and leisurely activities. One day you’re sitting on the ground and silently contemplating the majestic green hills and cliffs, or maybe taking photos of old houses, and the next you’re hiking up the hills in search of an ancient burial site, or crossing the open seas and trying to fight sea-sickness.
- You get to explore your deepest roots. Some of the country’s earliest settlers, originating from the eastern cost of Taiwan, entered the archipelago by way of Batanes and worked their way downwards. Numerous unexplored archaeological treasure troves are scattered around the islands, and you can literally stumble upon some piece of pottery dating back around 4,000 years ago.
- Equitable sharing of resources; sense of community. Everyone owns land in Batanes, and even if you have to sell, the practice is to sell to relatives or at least fellow Ivatans, not to outsiders. This has been a huge factor (aside from, no doubt, the remote location) why Batanes has largely succeeded in preserving its environment, heritage and way of life. Under the National Integrated Protected Areas System, the province is classified as a “Protected Landscape and Seascape.” This is defined as under the law as “areas of national significance which are characterized by the harmonious interaction of man and land while providing opportunities for public enjoyment through recreation and tourism within the normal lifestyle and economic activity of these areas.” Really, it’s a pretty accurate (albeit unwieldy) way to describe Batanes.
- Garlic. I’ve never seen as much garlic in my entire life. Batanes garlic is much more flavorful than the cheap imports from China or wherever, and it’s also organically grown.
- The distinct culture and surroundings also inspire great artistic sensibilities. Check out this link for samples of modern Batanes art. Let me know if you want to buy paintings and I’ll hook you up with someone 🙂
- The pleasure of the topload. I rode topload on our rented jeepney for much of our tours around the islands, and I must say that it’s definitely the best way to enjoy the beautiful sights – an unrestricted 360-degree view, with the wind blowing on your face, your camera at the ready. Just be careful and hang on; the roads are long and definitely winding. A windbreaker won’t be a bad idea, too 🙂
- Once you’ve been there, I kid you not, you’d want to come back.
More Batanes photos and chronicles (Multiply):