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“There’s no place in the Philippines like it.”
This is what most people who have been to Batanes say about the country’s northernmost and smallest island.
While commoners are quick to point out that it’s a place usually ravaged by monsoons, the locals- known as Ivatan, are quick to dispute the notion. Though geographically located as being closer to Taiwan than the Philippines, the innate beauty of the place is quite unparalleled and left undaunted by any natural or artificial calamities.
The island is composed of ten islets but only three are recorded by the National Statistics Office as inhabited namely Basco, Sabtang and Itbayat with other cities like Mahatao, Ivana and Uyugan.
Land of the Ivatans
By simply hopping aboard Asian Spiritâ€™s famed Dash7 plane, guests would be able to bask in this beautiful paradise in just two hours- something you canâ€™t do when youâ€™re traveling by sea.
Seemingly an island all to itself, Batanes’ culture and traditions vary from the rest of the country. The land boasts of having its own set of Provincial symbols such as their provincial tree called Aryus, the local fish Masayang and their own provincial flower Rahakut or native white orchid.
Another attraction to visitors are the 20 foot waves that wash the shores of Batanes, while this would scare tourists out of their wits, local fishermen would be seen on their boats patiently waiting for the day’s harvest.
Ivatans built stone houses with firm bases owing to the strong Northern winds, a testament to their ingenuity. Structures such as the Chavayan church and the Sabtang Lighthouse are some of the many structures found in the island that withstood not only the tests of time, but of nature as well.
As proof of Batanes’ beauty, Adolf Alix and Ignite Media Inc. CEO Dave Hukom recently shot a full-length feature film aptly called “Batanes”- a first for the company, with the island as one of its “characters.”
“The location is not just for show but a character in the story,” shared both co-directors.
But when asked to comment about possible developments in the island, Batanes co-directors Alix and Hukom gave different answers, but agreed that the place should be left as serene as it is.
Written by Arah Badayos, the film is a love story between a Filipina and a Taiwanese and circles around how the waters of Batanes test their love and individualities.
Alix then entices his audience by saying that the “unpredictable weather or ocean was similar to a woman,” and that people should watch to see how this “man versus nature” relationship unravels.
Hukom adds how the aesthetic beauty of Batanes lies in its green fields and the ocean that surrounds it. Seemingly cut and tended to by some divine force, people will have a hard time finding a single bald patch in the hillside and terrains of Batanes.
The film, which stars Ken Zhu of Taiwanese boy band F-4 fame and local actress Iza Calzado, promises not only to highlight Batanes’ beauty, but also share a tale about how love could overcome any language barriers or cultural differences. It will be shown on theaters on the 5th of December.
But perhaps the best kept secret of Batanes lies not only within the island but with its people. Both Hukom and Alix offer praises for the simplicity of the lifestyle, kindness and honesty of the locals. An “honest store” is even found at the heart of Batanes where customers simply pay for their purchase by leaving money on a jar and getting the right amount of change- a trait lost to just about everyone nowadays. Music lovers have to be warned though, because only Taiwanese stations could be picked up by radio receivers.
With Asian Spiritâ€™s commitment to being the Philippineâ€™s only adventure airline and staying true to being the first to offer flights to remote tourist destinations such as Boracay, going to places such as Batanes is now a reality and not just another daydream for most stressed out individuals spending hours typing away at the office.
For tickets, inquiries and reservations, you may contact Asian Spirit at 855-3333.