Itbayat on my Mind

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?

A charming little window at the foot of my bed.

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.

Like this.

There’s poop on the runway!

Then on a nearby field we found this guy.

Could it be his doing? The smug look on his face says he couldn’t care less.

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:

The Philippine date palm or voyavoy, which is endemic to Batanes.

Voyavoy fruits

We later went back to the town plaza and met a couple of old women wearing the vakul while cleaning the grounds.

In an awesome coincidence, she turned out to be Kuya Romy’s relative. They sorted their family tree and figured out how they’re connected.

Raele

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.

The local chapel

Primary school

Stone house

Traditional houses in the village are composed of three separate structures: the main living area, the kitchen and the outhouse.

Itbayat Church

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.

Facade of the church

Fr. Deniz has been there for so long he’s already included in the marker of the National Historical Institute.

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.

Bottles used for storing palek, the local wine.

This is a buoy that was converted into a water container. The owner said it can keep hot water warm for hours.

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.

Waiting area overlooking the ocean.

It was dusty, hot and humid but you can’t complain too much when you’ve got this for a view.

Picture 193

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.

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6 thoughts on “Itbayat on my Mind

  1. mau

    Ganda!!! Tanong ko lang sana din kung may contact details ka ng Guest House in Itbayat, para lang makapag-pareserve na kami. Thanks!

    Reply
    1. nagbabasang pinoy Post author

      Hi Mau. Uncle ng guide ko ang may-ari ng guest house kaya sya na nag-arrange. Pwede yung guide na lang ang i-contact mo, Kuya Romy Daroca – 0908.927.2358. Sobrang bait niyan. He’ll really help you out. 🙂

      Reply

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