Showing posts with label Batanes. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Batanes. Show all posts

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Batanes: Old stone houses of Itbud and Centro in Uyugan, Batanes

Uyugan is said to be the town with the most number of intact stone houses in Batan Island, particularly in Itbud and Centro (Kayvaluganan and Kayuganan). Most tours just drive through Uyugan and Itbud. It's actually the first time I got to walk around the town proper and Itbud.

The quaint Uyugan Church is relatively intact, but it's quite small compared to the churches of the neighboring towns.

They were changing the cogon on the roof of one of the stone houses while we were there. There are two roof types in Batanes stone houses. The maytuab type of cogon roof has four sides. While the sinadumparan style has only two sides.

We moved on to Itbud which is another barangay of Uyugan. On the way to Itbud, we passed by the ruins of Songsong, a barangay that was devastated by a tsunami in the 1953. Although most of the village is in ruins, many of the residents are starting to come back. The house where they shot the movie Batanes is actually in Songsong.

Itbud is the most intact barangay in Batan Island. Except for the church which the priest demolished just a few years back to build a bigger church (they replaced it with a horrible hollow-block structure), the barangay still has a lot of old stone houses. Unfortunately, the houses will not be picture perfect until the May elections are over since there are campaign posters everywhere.

But we did enjoy strolling around the village. At least some of the houses didn't have posters or tarpaulins. Our last stop was Imnajbu, the last barangay of Uyugan. Beside the barangay chapel is a wooden cross which marks the site of the first Catholic Mass in Batanes. There are also some noteworthy stone houses. Which is why no doubt, Uyugan is the last bastion of Batanes architecture on Batan Island.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Batanes: Around Mahatao, Ivana and Uyugan, Batanes

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!

Friday, April 09, 2010

Batanes: SEAIR flight to Basco, Batanes

I'm back in Batanes! We took the second SEAIR flight this morning. They have daily flights plus twice daily flights for certain days of the week. Skies here are overcast, not as sunny as I expected. But the result is very pleasant weather, a welcome relief from the heat of Manila!

We'll be going around Batan Island this afternoon. Anyway, for inquiries and reservations on SEAIR flights, call (02) 8490100 or book online at Join SEAIR Facebook Fan Page for updates on promos.

But if you still want to join our next Ultimate Batanes tour (the next April tour is already fully-booked), we have one last run from May 28 to 31, 2010. Just send an e-mail to Slots are running out so book now!

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Batanes: Coconut crab is a threatened species in the Philippines

It was brought to my attention that the coconut crab (Birgus latro), also known as tatus in Batanes, is a threatened species. According to the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources, "Buying, using, gathering, possessing and/or transporting [this] species are prohibited under Philippine laws (Republic Act No. 8550, Sec. 91, 92 and 97; Fisheries Administrative Order 202 and 208) and international treaty (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, CITES)."

The coconut crab is a very popular delicacy in Batanes. And many tour operators, caterers and restaurants still serve it to visitors. I wonder if they know that it is a threatened species. Anyway, for those heading over to Batanes, take note of that. Let's tell our suppliers not to serve coconut crab as part of our efforts to help in the conservation of this threatened species.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Batanes: Batanes heritage in danger!

Batanes is no longer in the running for inscription in the UNESCO World Heritage List. That's unless the Provincial Government of Batanes shows even the slightest interest to have their beautiful province inscribed. Unfortunately, the local government failed to submit the requirements before the February 2010 deadline. So everything is back to square one!

But more urgent is the fact that as I write this entry, there are close to seven new concrete structures being built in the village of Savidug on Sabtang Island. I was shocked to see the construction frenzy during my trip early this month!

For those who are not familiar with Batanes heritage, the villages of Savidug and Chavayan on Sabtang Island are the two most intact villages of vernacular Ivatan architecture. They are showcases of the Sinadumparan and Maytuab styles of houses. These new hollow block houses being constructed will most definitely destroy the unique architectural fabric of Savidug. The mayor of Sabtang and the governor of Batanes should start moving and do something to preserve the distinct streetscape of Savidug.

According to Architect Joy Mananghaya of the UNESCO National Commission (UNACOM), "There are ordinances protecting the heritage of Batanes. Almost all municipalities have their own ordinance. There is a main ordinance which we had crafted while working on the nomination of the property in 2003. This is Ordinance No. 41 (Series 2002) which is An Ordinance Enacting the Conservation, Development and Management of the Natural and Cultural Heritage Sites in Batanes and Providing Funds Thereof.

"And there are local ordinances in Sabtang such as Ordinance No. 95-05 which is An Ordinance Providing for the Maintenance, Protection and Conservation of a Protected Area along the National Road in Sabtang and Ordinance No. 97-002 which is An Ordinance Establishing the Municipality of Sabtang as a Heritage Island/Village and Creating for this Purpose a Sabtang Municipal Eco-Tourism and Heritage Council. Another local legislation is Resolution 2001-033 which is A Resolution Designating the Cultural and Natural Heritage of the Municipality of Sabtang."

If the local governments of Sabtang and Batanes even care about the inscription in the UNESCO World Heritage List, or at the very least, are interested in preserving the local heritage of Batanes, they better do something to halt these new constructions and make sure they conform with the architectural styles prescribed in the said ordinances.

In fact, UNACOM had already called the attention of Batanes last year regarding another important site, the Racuaydi Nakavajayan (Fountain of Youth) in Mahatao, where the municipal government undertook some new constructions (think cheap looking pools). A letter was sent to Batanes sometime August or September 2009 but the governor did not respond to the said communication.

The nomination of Batanes to the UNESCO World Heritage List started in 2003. In 2005, it was put on deferred status. By 2007, it was on referred status. There had already been a lot of resources poured into the nomination. So far, all the needed information had already been generated and was at hand as early as 2008. All the province had to do was to come up with the dossier. Since the deadline date for submitting the requirements of ICOMOS and the Committee had lapsed, the process of nomination will have to start all over again. However, a new nomination will only happen if the province, particularly its governor and congressman, are receptive to the preparation of a new dossier.

So in the meantime, let's keep our eye on the Mount Hamiguitan Range Wildlife Sanctuary in Davao Oriental which is up for nomination this year to the UNESCO World Heritge List with Batanes now sidetracked as a result of the inaction of their local officials.

Monday, March 08, 2010

Batanes: Batanes food adventure!

Batanes food is quite unique, it would be a shame if you did not try out the local cuisine. At every Ultimate Philippines tour to Batanes, we make sure everyone gets immersed in the local flavors of Batanes.

For starters, there's (1) humet or seaweed soup, (2) supas or turmeric rice, (3) chipuhu or breadfruit, (4) tamiduk or Ivatan salad which includes steamed pako or fiddlehead fern, eggplant, string beans, chopped tomatoes, and minced onions, (5) pinasu wakay or roasted kamote, (6) vunes or dried gabi, (7) wakay or boiled yam and (8) amay or mashed kamote and taro.

Then for the main course, there's (9) payi or lobster, (10) arayu, dorado or mahi-mahi, (11) tatus or coconut crab, (12) lataven a among or kinilaw na isda, (13) lunies or Ivatan adobo made with liempo, and (14) uvud balls made with pork, flying fish and banana trunk.

For dessert, there's (15) bukayo, (16) ducay salad, (17) glorified gabi and (18) rawut or millet.

As part of the tour, we arrange buffet lunches and picnics by the beach, and cocktails and sunset dinners at picturesque attractions Batanes.

Of course we have some Filipino comfort food too. But rest assured, you'll be getting an authentic Ivatan food experience on every Ultimate Philippine food tour. Our first tour to Batanes for the year ended today. We're all flying back to Manila tomorrow. There are five more tours for this year. So book now!

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

North Philippines: Best pizza restaurants north of Metro Manila

Pizza is one of my personal favorites. Those who know me should know this fact very well. So I'm compiling a list of my favorite pizza places outside Metro Manila beginning with North Philippines.

Clark Freeport & Angeles City

C' Italian Dining (1210 Don Juico Avenue, Angeles City; +63 45 8924059) is known for the panizza. C' Italian Dining had already been serving these sumptuous pizzas rolled with arugula and alfalfa long before Yellow Cab came out with Dear Darla. And there's no way you can compare the taste! The C' panizza is the best!

The best sellers are Don Carmelo: spicy chorizo, anchovies, thyme and pecorino cheese; Kristina: bacon, ham, caramelized onion, sun dried tomatoes and mushrooms; and Saint Jacques: scallop flakes, shrimp, sun dried tomatoes and chili flakes.

Historic Camalig Restaurant (292 Sto. Rosario Street, Angeles City; +63 45 3225641 or 8881077) is the home of Armando's Pizza. My personal favorite is Doy's Kapampangan: longganisa, ebun buru (salted duck egg), onion & pickle relish. Their newest offering is Marco's 3-Way: sun-dried tomatoes & kesong puti plus a choice of either tuyo, tinapa or chicken adobo. Then there's Mexican Medley: shredded chicken breast (sauteed in hot pepper & pizza sauce), fresh tomato & spring onion. Another personal favorite is the classic Armando's Best: same toppings as All The Way, but with extra peperoni, double ground beef, double green pepper, double mushroom & extra Canadian bacon.

Didi's Pizza (MacArthur Highway, Balibago, Angeles City; + 63 45 8921184) serves a very Filipino-flavored pizza if you know what I mean. My personal favorite is the Combination: mushroom, salami, pepperoni, green pepper and onions.

Salvatore's Ristorante (300 Fields Avenue, Balibago, Angeles City; +63 45 8920484) serves good Italian pizza as well. Their best seller is Italian De Luxe: salami, pepperoni, Italian sausage, mushroom, green bell pepper, onion, black olives. While the toppings of Italian De Luxe are mixed together, another flavor called Combination has Vegetarian on one side, and Meat Lovers on the other half.

Sub-Delicious (298 Fields Avenue, Balibago, Angeles City; +63 45 8921999 or 8926667) serves pizzas as large as 28-inches. Flavors include Super Meaty: pepperoni, sausage and hamburger; and Pizza Italiano: pepperoni, ham, and salami.

Subic Bay Freeport & Olongapo City

Xtremely Expresso (1 Dewey Avenue cor. Sta. Rita Street, Subic Bay Freeport; +63 047 2523681) serves the 22-inch Big Ben: pepperoni, sausage, bacon, beef, garlic, onion, peppers, mushrooms, black olives and two kinds of cheese. Other pizzas include Spanish Sardines, Chicken Pesto, Chicken & Peanut, Corned Beef, and Spicy Salmon.

Sam's Pizza (44 Magsaysay Avenue, Olongapo City; +63 47 2223686) is an Olongapo institution. Their best-seller is Sam's Special: pepperoni, Philippine sausage, mushrooms, green pepper, onion, bacon, Italian sausage and cheese. I remember having Chicken Teriyaki before but they no longer have it.

La Union

Olives Restaurant (Thunderbird Resort, Poro Point, La Union; +63 72 8887777) serves delicious wood-fired pizzas. Their best seller is Four Cheese: goat, parmesan, feta and mozzarella cheese. My personal favorite is Quattro Stagioni: kalamata olives, artichoke hearts, parma ham, fresh mushrooms. Also try the Spicy Sausage, Roasted Peppers, Mozarrella & Oregano Pizza or the Smoked Salmon & Mushroom Pizza: smoked salmon, fresh mushrooms, tomato sprinkled with oregano and cheese.

Ilocos Norte

Herencia Cafe (MacArthur Street, Bgy. 14, Sangladan, Paoay; +63 77 6140214) serves the famous Pinakbet Pizza: sitaw (string beans), ampalaya (bitter gourd), okra, talong (egg plant), patani (lima beans), kamatis (tomaotes), sili (chili), and labanos (radish). They also serve Bagnet Pizza: bagnet, onions, and basil; and Dinuguan Pizza: dinuguan, crispy pork, and chili.

Saramsam Restaurant (N. Corpuz Building, Rizal cor. Hizon Streets, Barangay 7-A, Laoag City; +63 77 7715825) also serves Ilocano-inspired pizzas. Their specialty is Poque-Poque Pizza which is topped with poque-poque, an Ilocano eggplant dish: eggplant, tomatoes, onions ang egg. They also have the Dinardaraan Pizza: dinuguan topped with green chili peppers; Longaniza Pizza topped with the local Laoag longaniza; and the Carbonara Pizza topped with Currimao oysters.


Casa Napoli (Abad Street, Brgy. Kaychanarianan, Basco; +63 927 7583370) serves pizzas with mozzarella cheese all the way in Batanes. Nothing really fancy about the pizzas but being in Basco, it's a novelty.

I'm sure there are more such as those in Baguio City, so please list them down by commenting below. I'll try to visit them when I can and add to this list.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Batanes: Book now for the 2010 Ultimate Batanes Culinary and Heritage Tours!

Ultimate Philippines Tours announces its Batanes schedule for 2010. We're posting our tour dates early for the benefit of those who want to plan their trips way in advance, especially the balikbayans.

Tours leave Manila early morning Friday and arrive back mid-morning Monday. We have six dates to choose from: (1) March 6 to 9, (2) March 20 to 23, (3) April 9 to 12, (4) April 30 to May 3, (5) May 14 to 17 and (6) May 28 to 31.

The tour fee is Php34,000 all-in, which includes the round-trip SEAIR Manila-Basco flight, accommodation at Fundacion Pacita, all meals, activities and transportation in Batanes. Due to increases in rates of accommodation for next year, we had to increase our tour fees. But if you deposit the P15,000 down-payment on/or before December 15, 2009, we'll give you a Php2,000 discount on the tour fee.

To reserve for the tours, please e-mail or contact my tokayo, Ivan Man Dy at +63 917 3291622. Find out more about our tours here.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Batanes: Valugan Beach, Vayang, Nakamaya Burial Grounds, Diura Fishing Village and Naidi Hill

Valugan Beach in Batanes is best viewed during sunrise. So for our last full day in Batanes, we woke up at dawn to watch the sunrise from the Valugan (or Chanpan) Boulder Beach, a beach characterized by boulders and large round stones weathered by the strong Batanes tides.

A sumptuous breakfast picnic followed after viewing the sunrise. We then proceeded back to Fundacion Pacita, our home in Batanes to freshen up before more exploration in the morning.

We were going to visit the Nakamaya Burial Grounds. But before that, we made sure to pass by Vayang which is most known for its rolling hills and cows grazing. On a clear day like today, one is afforded a spectacular view of the South China Sea, the western part of Basco, and even the northern islands of Batanes, including Itbayat which I hope to visit soon when the airport there is reopened.

After taking our photos in Vayang, we proceeded to the jump-off point for the short hike to the Nakamaya Burial Grounds. The trek was about a 30 minutes and relatively manageable since we had senior citizens in the group. But they had to be assisted by the guides in steep areas.

At the site, a wooden sign board explains the significance of the place: "The stone boat-shaped burial grounds shaped in the traditional wooden boat of Batanes called tataya are testimonies to the values of the prehistoric Ivatans who believed in life after death. The general direction of the boat-shaped burial grounds face the sea which, according to an old Ivatan folktale, is the final resting place of man.

"Radiocarbon testing on the human skeletons discovered inboat-shaped markers in Chuhangin show a date of practice of these burials between 355-70 B.P. (before present) or approximately A.D. 1600s."

After the trek, we proceeded back to Fundacion Pacita again to freshen up before proceeding to the Diura Fishing Village and the Fountain of Youth in Racuh a-Idi where a picnic lunch was going to be served.

Diura is a tiny village of Mahatao facing the Pacific Ocean. It's around three kilometers east of the town proper. Diura is most known as a fishing area for mahi-mahi or dolphin fish which is called dorado in Batanes. To signify the start of the fishing season, the fishermen perform the Kapayvanuvanua ritual.

I was not able to join the rest of the group in Racuh a-Idi since I had to accompany some of our guests to the airport who were leaving by private plane.

After lunch, the group proceeded to Basco to do some shopping. During my last trip, I got explore Basco town. So I decided to rest first since I was going to judge an art competition later in the afternoon. So you can check out Batanes, undiscovered paradise up north for more on Basco.

In the evening, we had sunset cocktails and dinner at the Naidi Hill Lighthouse. And even more lobster! The view was spectacular, a the activity was a great way to end a sunrise to sunset itinerary in Basco. Naidi is said to be the best spot to take a Basco sunset photo.

The next day, we flew back to Manila. Anyway, I'm looking forward to my next SEAIR flight back to Batanes!

Part 1: Batanes adventure: Mahatao, Ivana and Uyugan
Part 2: Batanes adventure: Chavayan, Savidug, Nakabuang Beach and more from Sabtang

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

Monday, August 10, 2009

Batanes: Chavayan, Savidug, Nakabuang Beach and more from Sabtang

Sabtang Island is a must-visit for anyone who wants to experience Batanes. The last time I was in Batanes, the waters were rough. So the trip to Sabtang was an ordeal. But when I was there in May, the waters were calm.

In Sabtang, we visited the villages of Savidug and Chavayan. On the way to Chavayan from Savidug, you'll be able to see an idiang, the ruins of an old stone fortresses on top of which early Ivatan settlements were built. For more details on these, check out Batanes stone houses in Savidug and Chavayan, Nakabuang Beach and more from Sabtang Island.

Lunch was at Nakabuang Beach where tables were set-up for the group. A staple dish in most Sabtang lunches is lobster. So if you do get to visit, make sure to tell your guide you want to have lobster for lunch. I'll discuss what we ate in another post.

It's best to be back in Batan Island early in the afternoon since the water tends to get rough the later it gets. There's actually another village worth visiting is Sumnanga. But you'll have to stay overnight if you want to visit it since it's a bit far. The tourism office of Sabtang has a few rooms for tourists who decide to stay on the island for a night.

As soon as we got back to Batan, everyone went for a rest in Fundacion Pacita. We had a barbecue dinner planned there in the evening plus a cultural presentation. The locals performed the Palo-Palo Dance, an Ivatan dance which reenacts the conflict and eventual reconciliation between the Spaniards and Ivatans (a big part of local fiesta celebrations), and serenaded us with local Ivatan folk songs.

Part 1: Batanes adventure: Mahatao, Ivana and Uyugan
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

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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