Saturday, August 01, 2009

Batanes: Around Mahatao, Ivana and Uyugan

I was in Batanes again last May for the Ultimate Philippines tour of the northernmost province of the country. As soon as our SEAIR flight landed in Basco, we went straight to Fundacion Pacita where we were going to stay for the next four days.

For the first day, we toured Batan Island, particularly the towns outside Basco. Just last November, I also did the same tour. So for more details about the places we visited, read Marlboro Country, Mahatao Church and more from Batan Island.

Our first stop was the Mahatao Church, a National Cultural Treasure. According to the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA), “ The church was built in the 19th century by the Dominicans and characterized by a stone structure in the courtyard used to house the beaterio, a local institution to assist in the work of the church. Elsewhere in the churchyard are stone monuments used perhaps as guiding lights for fishermen. The entire site gives a good idea of the simplicity of missionary life (as a counter-balance to the ‘baroque’ sensitiveness of more affluent areas).”

We then dropped by Ivana to visit the Ivana Church, Honesty Café where people pay for drinks and snacks they consume by honesty system since the store is unmanned, and the House of Dakay, said to be the oldest stone house in the town. The group got to meet its lone inhabitant, Lola Florestida Estrella who warmly welcomes visitors into her humble home.

The group then had a lunch picnic by the sea in Uyugan. I'll talk about all the great Ivatan food we ate during the whole tour in another post.

Passing through Uyugan town, we got to see the ruins of Songsong (a barangay destroyed by a tsunami in 1953), old stone houses in Barangay Itbud and the poblacion of Uyugan, and spectacular views of waves crashing on the jagged Batanes cliffs in Dekey a Kanayan.

The last stop of the group before proceeding back to the inn was Rakuh a Payaman commonly known as Marlboro Country. It’s one of the best views in Batanes, with cows and carabaos grazing, rolling hills, waves crashing on the shore, with a view of another quaint lighthouse built in the distinct Batanes style. In the evening, we had more Ivatan fare at Therese's Restaurant.

Part 2: Batanes adventure: Chavayan, Savidug, Nakabuang Beach and more from Sabtang
Part 3: Batanes adventure: Valugan Beach, Vayang, Nakamaya Burial Grounds, Diura Fishing Village and Naidi Hill

Related entries
Batanes, undiscovered paradise up north
Marlboro Country, Mahatao Church and more from Batan Island
Batanes stone houses in Savidug and Chavayan, Nakabuang Beach and more from Sabtang Island
Batanes hotels and restaurants plus exploring Batanes by bike
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