When I came back from a week-long trip to Batanes in June, I was so in love with the place I couldn’t stop talking about it. For weeks, this blog was inundated with tons of pictures and long-winding posts about the province. Then other things came up, I went on more out-of-town trips, the writing lost steam and I left part one of the entry about Itbayat hanging. After months of delay, here’s part two.
Sunrise apparently comes early at this time of the year in Itbayat. I woke up at a little past 5am and the sun was already up on the horizon. I’m not usually a morning person but how can you be grumpy when you’re waking up to the bluest skies and a view of the ocean at your doorstep?
First stop: Airport
We had to be on board the boat going back to Basco by noon so we only had half the day to explore the island. Our first stop was the airport because, well, I had no idea why Kuya Romy (my guide) was bringing me to the airport but what the heck. We’d probably find something interesting there.
Then on a nearby field we found this guy.
I sometimes exhibit the maturity of a six-year-old. I find things like poop funny.
Right behind the carabao was a long fence made of rocks piled on top of each other. There was no cement or any other bonding agent used to hold them together. The structure stands strong because of the meticulous arrangement of the rocks, like fitting puzzle pieces together.
I also found out where vakul, the traditional Ivatan headgear, comes from. Kuya Romy said it’s made from the leaves of this plant:
We later went back to the town plaza and met a couple of old women wearing the vakul while cleaning the grounds.
After the airport, we visited the village of Raele. It was not as picturesque as the rows of stone houses in Sabtang but the place provides a glimpse of rural community life on the island.
Our last scheduled stop was the church in the town center where we met Father Domingo Deniz. We found him in his living room, reclining on a chair and watching CNN while having a cigarette. He has been the parish priest of Itbayat for more than 40 years. He’s from Spain but he speaks Itbayaten like a local. We had to talk in English though because his Tagalog is not that good and my Itbayaten is nonexistent.
Karinderia cum art house
We had a few more minutes to kill before leaving for the pier so we walked around town. That was how we found a karinderia which had the coolest knick knacks.
Most of the items are from the owner’s personal collection of bric-a-brac displayed in her house. She moved them here when she opened the place. She proudly showed us a travel magazine that featured an article on Itbayat. She was included in the story and photos. She then served lunch and when we asked how much we had to pay, she said “Kayo na pong bahala,” (It’s up to you). Now I feel awful for forgetting her name. I’m a terrible person.
We had to hurry back to the guesthouse to get our stuff and head to the pier. We thought we were running late but when we got there, we still had to wait for an hour for the boat to be ready.
It was dusty, hot and humid but you can’t complain too much when you’ve got this for a view.
The three-hour boat ride was still as miserable as the first time, if not more. The heat was suffocating, my legs were cramped and I was trying very hard not to puke. Was Itbayat worth it? Hell, yeah. Will I do it again? In a heartbeat.