Friday, August 13, 2010

time-warped Chavayan Village, Batanes (it's like ugly is banned here)


The time-warped Chavayan Village. Photos don't do justice, I tell you

The back of the village is delicately cradled in the bosom of the mountains, its front plays intimate with the dark blue ocean. The only road to the village is through a snaking one-lane drive on top a hill cutting through volcanic boulders. It snakes through treacherous bend after bend the height of a 20-storey building then it gradually goes down, gracefully so, until it ends near where Pacific Ocean begins.

The houses here withstood the test of time and the unforgiving, albeit unpredictable weather. The afternoon I set foot in the village it was hot and muggy but a few heartbeats later, the sky darkened and soon the heavens opened and cleansed the whole village with the unforgiving rain. The ocean was a mist. The mountains, all gray.

The downpour was gone quickly in the same manner it arrived and the sun with its honeyed light bathe the village that late afternoon in Chavayan.


Earlier that day, W and I had to wake up at 4:00am to catch the first jeepney from Basco to Ivana Port. The first trip didn't arrive until half past five. The whole town was still asleep (save for a bike-riding pandesal boy) when the jeepney pulled over in the corner. It looked like it was a special trip since there was no one else inside.

In less than ten minutes, the jeepney began its climb. The one-lane road this part of town seemed to be carved on the boulders with no room for another vehicle coming from the opposite direction. So, the driver had to blow the horn in every bend and turn of the road while I tried to catch my breath each quick maneuver he made on the steering wheel. There was no room for error in as much there was nothing between the road and the cliff (that dropped straight to the raging waves).

But from my vantage point, everything was calm and quiet including the sea that separates Itbayat, Batan and Sabtang Islands.

Past the town of Mahatao, the drive was still scenic with Sabtang Island showing up once too often. We got to Ivana Port and paid Php25.00 per person to the driver. 

The first falowa (20-pax capacity boat in Batanes first created by their ancestors to withstand the rough sea and strong currents) didn't arrive until 6:00am. With a lot of time to burn, we got to tambay at Honesty Cafe for the second time that week. I got coffee, crackers and checked-out the liter of Royal True Orange I left a day earlier. And yes, it was still there. Intact.

One of the notes posted inside Honesty Cafe

By seven, the falowa arrived. I dropped my payment, with a few extra, inside the box. 

We had to wait for the boat to be cleared of the cargoes which include motorcycles, drums of diesel and guess what? Carabaos!

It was sailing time! Soon, the falowa cut the flat waters of the bay like how a knife cuts a dough. But once it got to the middle of the channel, the sea was undeniably raging underneath. The current seemed to ditch the boat on one side, then to the other. There was not a surf seen, but the sea was rising and falling more than what I considered as normal. My panic attack button sounded already! 

For the next twenty minutes (which seemed to be forever), I held on, held on so tightly to W's arms. But the calm spirits of the locals consoled me. The boatman was even eager enough to throw a bait and in no time, he caught one helluva big fish! Big enough to feed three families for a day!

The falowa (fare: Php50.00 per person) docked at the port of Malakdang in Sabtang Island. After paying the tourist fee of Php100.00 per person at the Municipal Guesthouse, and negotiating the rather overpriced rental of motorcycle with a driver (they don't have a self-driven one here; paid Php700.00 for each vehicle), we set off to explore the secret villages and coves of the island--including Nakabuang Beach, Little Hongkong, Idjang Fortress, Savidug Village (where the movie Batanes was shot), and my most favorite of all, the time-warped Chavayan Village! 

I tell you, every nook and cranny of Chavayan has no bad angle. It's like ugly is banned there!

In one of the traditional houses in Chavayan

Value for Money: Chavayan home-stay for Php150.00/pax/day. Contact the Village Captain.

Chavayan Church: in heaven's door!

The only (remaining) church in Batanes with cogon grass roofing.
 Like many travelers who came before me, I should say that a visit to Batanes is never complete without visiting Sabtang Island! It's one time-machine that will bring you to what Batanes was like decades ago. The warmth of its people, the smiles, the laid-back verve rubbed on me minutes after I set foot in the what many called as the Scotland of The Philippines.

It ain't Scotland or Ireland! 
It's uniquely Batanes. 
It's uniquely Philippines, baby!

Time to sleep. Power supply here stops at 10PM and resumes at 6:00AM.
That would mean during the no-power hours, you'd listen to the clashing of the (big!) waves and ahem, gaze at the stars, dot-to-dot. 

Good night everyone!

next: homestay in Ivana town at the ancestral house of former DepEd undersecretary Fe Hidalgo


  1. rv, i already posted my short interview with you :-) here it is

  2. thanks flip! i'm posting links of the interview to your site as well.

    off to the next adventure anytime soon?


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