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Amazing Batanes: The Quiet Holiday Before the Storm

July 16, 2014       Amazing Philippines

Amazing Batanes

The Quiet Holiday Before the Storm

Storm Chasing in Paradise?  That is a good idea too.  But a summer visit in Batanes islands, north of Luzon, allows you and your companions to enjoy one of the secret places God made in the Philippines for good people to enjoy, settle down, or just visit for a holiday.

REACH manager Loly de Asis and her family visited Batanes at the onset of low season and show with their amazing pictures why the place is as marvelous as every blogger who has been there will attest.  Check out the sights of Batanes...

A cow grazing in the middle of nowhere.  And Batanes is just one
of those places in the country where living in the green everything,
middle of nowhere is just bliss.  You don't even need to be a
cow to know that...

Rolling hills and seaside cliffs beckon you to stay as long
as you want, but watch the skies for stormsign.

REACH manager Loly at the boulder beach with family. 
See how tough the island is? The boulders protect the beach
from erosion when battered by extreme storm waves.

The REACH bosses at Ahau Ark at Nakabuang Beach, Sabtang Island,
one of the incredible natural rock formations weathered by
centuries of storm and erosion

For all of us, as long as you are sheltered in a relatively safe, place…storm weather is a godsend. Typhoons are not a bother if you know how to be careful.  And when Miz Stormy with Howling Wind and Mister Rainmaker visits, all that they do is clean the air, make foliage grow, cool down ambient surroundings, and provide a respite from the oppressive summer heat, we can all live with that too/  If the sunscorcher season just gives you heatstroke, headaches and body odor, then you just gotta look forward to the rainy season.  Especially if you are on an extended holiday in the distant secluded gem that is Batanes.  Although summer season is the peak for tourists spending a holiday in Batanes, a trip there during the unpredictable off-season not only saves you money, it also allows you to enjoy the northern islands in clear weather, as good as a summer visit but without the tourist rabble and the hotter weather.

People there are honest, frugal, hard working and

keep to their own business.

The unique construction materials and design of the Ivatan
limestone home enables the locals to dwell in a
storm corridor with peace of mind.

The above limestone house is also the oldest Ivatan home in the island,
also known as the Estrella home, constructed during the Spanish era.

A stone bridge that was during the Spanish era is still standing the test
of  time and unforgiving elements to keep towns connected.

One of the heritage limestone homes at Basco, Batanes, showing ancient
Filipino stonecraft masonry

If you travel around Batanes, there is a winding access road built
by the Americans that is as tricky as Baguio's Kennon Road, so
drivers are advised to blow their horns whenever they use the
zig zag route to warn others of incoming traffic. Better safe than
sorry, in the middle of nowhere.

An optical typhoon of green rolling hills and cliffs and literally a corridor for storms, the beautiful islands up north of Luzon is place that is Paradise only for those who come prepared to live there.  Residents require very hardy dwellings for survive and off the grid preparedness to flourish.  The Ivatan Limestone Homes are very unique. Their walls are a meter thick to withstand typhoon strength winds and keep the heat inside during the rains and withstand windchill, but cool and comfy during the scorching summer. The thatched roofing lasts for up to 10 years, is leak-proof, easily repaired and can withstand the fury of torrential rains and gusty winds.

When in Sabtang, check out the grass weaves that you can
actually wear!  Weatherproof natural garments for the storm season.

The Sabtang folk have an age old tradition of weaving grass and other local plant fibers into what they use as storm jackets or storm coats and salakot hats.  Simple technology translating into good use of what they have for weather protection.  Food and supplies need to be stocked though. There are stretches when bad weather renders the island paradise an isolated and unreachable haven.  There are local farmers. Local livestock breeders. But production isn’t at a commercial level to the point that they just keep the food supply to a manageable level.  Batanes is a backpacker’s paradise.

Rolling hills and wide open spaces. even in a
storm corridor, this IS Paradise!

REACH Manager and her family enjoying a Sound of Music moment
in the coast hugging hills and cliffs of Batanes.

Long stretches of nothing in the middle of nowhere. Just some trees, grassy knolls and sprawls, dirt roads and bike trails. Rolling hills and stony cliffs overlooking a gorgeous coastline entice you to move up north and stay, forever if you can wing it. A great place to go and disappear to write a book or just recharge from the toxicity of the rat race and the urban jungle.

Another gorgeous view of the Fundacion Pacita Nature's Lodge.
Off-the-Grid never looked as grand in Batanes, If you make it good,
don't build some Dude Crib in the Metro, go to Batanes, choose a cliff
and have your castle there. You WON'T regret it.

The REACH Manager and family at Fundacion Pacita Nature's Lodge,
one of the best places in Batanes because of the overlooking
views of the sea and the rolling hills.

Tukon Chapel was inspired by the Ivatan limestone homes, the church
was a project of the Pacita Abad family and her students who made
most of the  paintings and stained glass windows of the church.

REACH Publishers Loly de Asis and Family were able to explore the quiet side of Batanes when they visited the best place in the Philippines that is so difficult to access because our typhoons don't want people to spoil the holy land of the Ivatans. The family had a great time unwinding and getting mementos of their visit to share with friends and readers of REACH too.

One of the beautiful sculptured pottery vessels of Pacita Abad

Pacita Abad's gorgeous artwork, one of her paintings,
enshrined at the Fundacion for all art fans to enjoy forever.

Pacita Abad's brief biography and work background
eatured at the Nature's Lodge.

The gorgreous and homey dining area of the Nature's Lodge
waiting for guests to enjoy their stay with a full meal or just
talk and good coffee.

An artist/writer workshop favorite in the northern islands, the FUNDACION PACITA NATURE LODGE has the best view of the rolling hills and the sea as it stands on top of a hill and from there you can relax and do your art or writing and find peace of mind and dream and create new things—stories, paintings, sketches—with whatever simple tools you may have for indulging in doo-de-doo-de-doo.  The REACH managers went there to unwind from the hectic work of our start up magazine, and to meditate and be thankful that they can do good for everyone with REACH.  Everyone should take time to kick back to enjoy the blessings the Lord provides for those who do His good work.

There are a handful of towns in Batanes and all have the hardiest homes
to survive week after week of direct hits from strong typhoons

The 'Simbahan ng Basco', a Catholic Church where the
faithful worshippers  on the island gather to meditate
and be thankful for blessings all year round.

Another splendid church in Batanes, the San Carlos Borromeo Parish

Family at the Basco Lighthouse, which
guides ships at night or during low visibility
weather and storms.

The family was able to visit several beautiful landmarks of the islands north of Luzon.  The Simbahan ng Basco, the local Lighthouse and the Macapagal Safe Harbor as well as the boulder beach.

The renown Honesty Cafe, a communal self service shop where you
can get coffee and some necessities like toothpaste, soap and such. 
Coolest Off the Grid idea in a remote place such as Basco.

The Guidelines for Self Service at the Honesty Cafe

The radar station at Basco, for both seafaring navigators and for
early warning and detection of storm or typhoon strengths.

If you have watercraft, you can moor or anchor it at the DIosdado
Macapagal boat shelter port, and keep safe from typhoon madness,
you'd be mad to risk a boat this far but in Ivatan Paradise, it
would be  the time of your life.

The Port of Ivana in Batanes.

Another view of the hillside coastline around Batanes. who cares
for white sand beaches with overcrowding when you have
all that free space to woolgather your wits and wishes?

A view of  the Nature's Lodge from the road and a town in the
background.  Look at all that green too, who would not mind
escaping the rat race and live where gamefowl and the carabaos
play....where dwelling is sweet....even if the skies are
always cloudy, storms actually make you happy you live there....
........rather than in Manila.


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