Batanes Journal : Day 2

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Day 2

Day 2 is the most exciting part of the vacation. It’s not because I don’t know what lies ahead of the day but what would I feel knowing that I am crossing a body of water where two giants meet: South China Sea and Pacific Ocean. Geographically, the crossing from Batan Island to Sabtang is southwards so the boat that we would be riding have to go east ward prior approaching Sabtang so that we will be just right when we maneuver the waves. I had initial apprehensions on bringing my camera to the island since there’s a chance for our boat to capsize as it was raining before we leave for the port. A common belief came into my mind that when it rains, chances are the sea would be rough and our fear is fueled further of our alarm clock – the slamming of the waves in the seashore. The sound is heard from the place where we are staying and that alone gave us doubts if we can proceed with the trip or not.

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After eating breakfast, Roger has arrived and informed us that the sea is calm and we can proceed with the trip. Armed with false courage, I gambled bringing my camera even if the possibility of that getting wet on the trip going to the island is high. The port where we boarded is near Ivana and there were already people in the area when we alighted from our jeep. We don’t have a dedicated boat unlike Mandy Navasero’s group (Mandy is a popular photographer here in the Philippines). We were joined by locals as well as other tourists as well. According to the boatman, a typical boat can carry up to 40 people and that alone shocked me. The risk is even higher if you put all those in the boat plus some cargo to bring on the other side. When everyone in the group (we were 16) has occupied their seats, we left the port and off to the island. My heart was beating faster that time since the sea is quite rough (on my standards) and yet they (locals) said that it was still calm. The boat doesn’t have any balance support on the sides (as compared to a traditional banca – “katig” in local language) but the balance is placed solely on the wide body that the boat has. The ride is full of thrill as you see waves coming from the Pacific Ocean pass by and sometimes the waves are higher than that of the boat but as they approach the boat, they just elevate our height. Mandy’s boat went ahead of us and from my view (at the back of the boat), sometimes we see them, and sometimes we don’t. If you are going to take this boat, I do suggest not occupying the middle area as you might sniff the diesel fumes emitted by the boat’s engine. On the trip going to the boat, I stood up in the back and enjoyed the waves as they pass, come and go from the boat.

Before our approach to Sabtang, the waves became stronger making it difficult for the boat to disembark passengers comfortably. An exciting event almost became disastrous for me as when the boat has positioned its anchors and when the passengers in the front started getting off; a strong wave splashed at our back and wet my camera. Yes, my camera got wet and what made it more scary was the fact that the lens attached to my camera then is my new wide angle lens. As soon as I got hold of my bag, I took my extra shirt and dried the camera. I felt relieved when the camera was still OK and thanks to the cheap filter that shielded the lens opening.

Upon arrival, everyone had their turns in the wishing well (aka wiwi – urinate) and when everyone was OK, we had to pass by the Municipal Hall to pay some ecological fee. I paid 100 pesos as entry fee to the island. Our mode of transportation there is not a jeep but a 4×4 vehicle capable of passing through rough roads. I noticed that majority of the roads in Sabtang are not yet cemented. To further enjoy the view, I opted to stay on top of the vehicle to maximize the sceneries available. Our first stop was at Savidug where we visited the limepits. These limepits are being used by Ivatans before as“cement” for their houses. According to the guide, dead corals are being mixed with stones and burned. The remnants of the burned materials are then buried under the soil for a year. After the incubation, these become a sticky material and being used as a construction material for building the stone houses. We then proceed to a small village where stone houses are found. Most of the houses there are already “modernized” with the exception of some old houses left as is from their original structure. There are already some abandoned stone houses and some are already renovated. From that village, our tour guide pointed us a mountain formation as if a lady giant is resting. The shape of the face is evident where there’s a “nose”, “mouth”, and even an “eye” formation on the mountain. The next stop of our road trip is towards that direction. Upon arriving in the area, we were welcomed with a majestic view of the Sabtang island facing the Pacific Ocean.

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Before heading for lunch, we passed by Barrio Chavayan where vaculs can be bought. Vaculs are the head dresses Ivatans use as a protection from heat and rain. Of course, there were stone houses and some places of interest. The children there are ready to pose for our cameras.

We took our lunch in Nakanmuan beach in Murong and ate near a stone formation. We were served with seafoods such as lobsters and white snappers. Mandy’s group was also there but I think they have a different caterer than us and I didn’t mind what food was serve to them – as long as it can fill our hungry stomachs and is edible enough, I’m fine with that. Our tour guide has to cut off our trip to Sabtang as we need to get a good time going back to Batan Island. According to him, the best time to leave the place is around 3pm and it was already almost 2pm when we finished our lunch. We weren’t able to pass by the lighthouse visible from the port where we were dropped off from the boat. Fortunately or unfortunately, the boat that was supposed to bring us back headed there without us. We had to wait 2 hours before the boat comes back and even if there’s a boat waiting, it would be risky to put 30+ people in it (Mandy’s group was 14 and we’re 16 plus the tour guides and other locals as well). Because of that, I had the opportunity to go to the light house. It’s actually walking distance from the port and can be reached in 10 minutes. The first town at the right of the port is Malakdang, and the entrance to the lighthouse is just few meters away at the end of the road and is near the diesel power plant.

It was already raining when we left Sabtang and even if the waves were stronger as compared to the trip on the morning, I felt relaxed with everything I see and felt in Sabtang. I must have loved the place so much.

Photos of Day 2 is in my Multiply site.

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