Location: Batan and Sabtang Islands, Province of Batanes, Philippines
Provincial Capital: Basco
Capital Municipality Class: 5th Class
Coordinates: 20°35′30″N 121°53′46″E
Total Area: 219.01 km2 (84.56 sq mi)
Blogger's Note: This province island group comprises of ten islands that are located in the Luzon Strait between the islands of Luzon and Taiwan, namely: Yami, North Island, Maduvis, Siayan, Itbayat, Dinen, Batan, Dequey, Ivojos and Sabtang. It is the northernmost part of the Philippines and is also the smallest province, both in terms of population and land area. The island group is located about 162 km north of Luzon and about 190 kilometers south of Taiwan, separated from the Babuyan Islands of Cagayan Province, Luzon, by the Balintang Channel and from Taiwan by the Bashi Channel. Click this link for more information.
and choice of accommodation and where to go
This trip dated September 25 to October 3, 2003 just covered the two of the ten islands of Batanes Islands group, namely: Batan and Sabtang. Batanes, the Philippines’ smallest province, consist of tiny islands that form the northernmost frontier of the country. Its center is situated at longitude 121 degrees 53 minutes east and at latitude 22 degrees 20 minutes north. This location, which is near the upper boundary of the Tropic of Cancer, gives it a semi-temperate climate through most of the year. It is nearer Taiwan (190 kms north) than Aparri, Cagayan (280 kms south), the nearest town of Mainland Luzon. It is 860 kms. North of Manila. Its proximity to Taiwan is a source of diplomatic irritant ---- Taiwanese fishing boats regularly intrude into its territorial waters and fishing grounds.
Naidi Hill which offers a 360 degrees scenery of that aquamarine blue seascape of Basco is really good for meditating and soul searching. It is as well therapeutic as you inhale the fresh air all around you. I was fortunate enough that in my week-long stay in Batanes, there was no rain and so afternoon walk in this part of the town was so rewarding.
The islands are surrounded by the Pacific Ocean in the east, the China Sea on the west and the Balintang and Bashi Channels on the south and north, respectively. The Pacific Ocean drains into the China Sea and vice versa in these channels creating powerful and treacherous underwater currents. This, combined with its distance from the mainland, strong winds that blow throughout most of the year and frequent typhoons, have kept the islands in a relative state of isolation, a situation that is both a boon and bane to the province’s economy. The ten (10) islands of Batanes from north to south are as follows:
1. Yami Island – the northernmost island of the Philippines, a neighbor of Lanyu island of Taiwan (also called Orchid Island and earlier Botel Tobago)
2. North Island
3. Mavudis Island, literally “low-lying island”
4. Siayan Island, literally “separation island” as in paysyayan
5. Itbayat Island, the largest in the Group
6. Dinen Island, the “tatus coconut crab” habitat
7. Vatan (Batan) Island, the second largest island
8. Dequey Island, literally “Small Island” to Dampier the “Good Island” because of the great number of goats in his visit in 1687 and westernmost island.
9. Ivojos Island – cattle and goats raised, unique for its reefs extending almost to the middle of the channel separating it from Sabtang.
10. Sabtang Island – third largest in size and southernmost island.
I started the tour boarding Autobus Transport from Manila on September 25, 2003 to Laoag City for an 11.67-hour bus travel and stayed there for an overnight at Room 310 of Hotel del Norte in Fonacier Street. The following day, September 26, 2003, I boarded Asian Spirit flight No. 6K124 seated at 5D for a 50-minute air travel from Laoag City to Basco, the capital of Batanes located in Batan Island. I did not have any reservation for accommodation and I just sought the assistance of PNB Basco Branch. It was them who referred me to stay in Shanedel Inn and Cafe owned by Shane and Del Millan located in No. 0669 National Road corner Abad Street, Brgy. Kaychanarianan, Basco. Del was a former employee of PNB Basco Branch. It was Del who arranged for my package tours. The whole tour only covered two of the ten islands of Batanes which is Batan and Sabtang.
Batan alone is a bunch of beautiful sceneries. One of the best thing that I did in Batanes was when I climbed Mt. Iraya which is the highest point of Batanes Islands Group at 1,517 meters or 4,976 feet above see level. Some places I visited were: (1) Brgy. Chanarian of Basco; (2) Paderes Winding Road of Basco; (3) Viewdeck of Basco; (4) Fisherman’s Village in Sitio Jura, Diura, Mananoy Bay of Mahatao; (5) Racuj-a Payaman (Communal Pasture land) which is the Marlboro county of Batanes located in Mahatao. It is overlooking Mt. Mataran which is an extinct volcano standing 495 meters at its summit, Mr. Iraya and Mananoy Bay; (6) End-of-the-world Point or called Imnajbu of Brgy. Imnajbu, Uyugan; (7) Alapad Rock Gate Formation between Brgy. Imnajbu and Itbud, Uyugan; (8) Ghost town of Songsong in Brgy. Itbud, Uyugan abandoned by its residents after the tidal wave in the 1950’s; (9) Vatang Rock Cliff Formation, National Highway of Ivana; (10) Mavatoy Rock Cliff formation, National highway of Ivana; (11) 18 century house in Ivana; (12) San Carlos Borromeo Church and Convent in Mahatao; (13) Francisco Cariaso’s Green 18th Century house in Mahatao; (14) Pre-war telecom buildings and Lighthouse in Naidi Hills; (15) Basco Valugan Rock Bay – the cradle of myriads of smooth stones of different sizes and colors; (16) Radar Tukon – an abandoned US Weather station on a hilltop which offers a 360-degree view of Batan Island, the South China Sea, Mount Iraya, Basco Proper, boulder lined cliffs and the Pacific Ocean; (17) Tamolong Bridge with a backdrop of Batanes Resort and its imposing hillsides; (18) Basco Welcome Tablet overlooking Mt. Iraya, Kanyuyan Beach and seaport, Baluarte Bay, Naidi Hills and Basco town proper; and (19) Sto. Domingo De Guzman Cathedral in Basco.
On the other hand, I visited the beautiful island of Sabtang on September 29, 2003. Going to Sabtang Island from Batan Island is only a 30-minute falowa (boat) ride from Radiwan Port in Ivana. Ivana is a 45-minute jeepney ride from Basco town proper. Sabtang island was only a day trip and I contracted the minitruck of Ricardo "Carding" Hornedo to have a tour around the island. He was referred to me by his auntie, Mrs. Aurora V. Hornedo - a teacher from Sabtang Elementary School after giving homage to Saint Vincent, the Patron Saint of Sabtang housed in San Vicente Parish Church in Sabtang Central. Indeed, the island has an undisturbed and unspoiled ecological attractions guaranteed to satisfy even the most sophisticated travelers and nature lovers. It has a number of fish sanctuaries in Chavayan. It has also intermittent white sand beaches like Lokoy Beach in Brgy. Savidug and along Chavayan coastline. The steep mountain of Mount Genbalungot in Chavayan is a view to behold. There are also deep canyons in Chavayan with small level areas sporadically found along the coastline. I also visited the Idjang in Savidug --- a columnar megalith structure of andesite type and a castle-like configuration with defied codification.