We did our usual afternoon trip around the southern part of Batan Island yesterday. That includes the towns of Mahatao, Ivana and Uyugan. One of my favorite heritage stops along the way is the Mahatao Church (dedicated to San Carlos Borromeo), which is a National Cultural Treasure.
I was pleasantly surprised to see an old lady wearing a vacul close to the church. For the longest time, seeing someone actually wear a vacul has eluded me in all my visits to Batanes until now. She was very gracious to the group for allowing everyone to take her photo and have their photo taken with her.
Our next stop was Ivana. Another popular stop is the House of Dakay (built in the maytuab style). Said to be the oldest stone house that is still in use in Batanes, it dates back to 1860. Its lone occupant, Florestida Estrella, is now 83.
Other stops in Ivana include Honesty Cafe and the Ivana Church. We were told that Ivana, Batanes is the smallest municipality in the entire country, both in population (1,181 in 2007) and land area (16.54 square kilometers). So unless anyone disputes that, I'll accept it as fact.
We then drove by Uyugan before proceeding back to Mahatao via the Racuh a Payaman (also known as Marloboro Country) where the group enjoyed the sunset. Racuh a Payaman means wide pasture. According to the Batanes Provincial Government, this communal pasture collectively managed by the townsfolk depicts a people that values community ownership over private property. It adds that the beauty of Racuh is as awe-inspiring as the concept that it represents: that collective management is best where land space is limited.
The skies were overcast when we arrived in the morning. But the sun thankfully came out later in the afternoon. But despite the sun, the weather was pleasantly cool. Indeed, it was a welcome relief from Manila's scorching hot weather!