Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Last Day in Batanes (technically, that is)

The flight to Manila tomorrow will leave at 7ish. So, to avoid cancellation of our booking, W and I must be in Basco town a day before since the first trip from Ivana doesn't leave until 6am. This is the reason why a we took the 1pm Ivana to Basco trip today. It was a heartbreak to leave the charming town. Besides, Manong-the-neighbor and the kind Manang who manned the corner sari-sari store where we got most of our supplies have become my friends already.

Under the Ivatan sun | Batanes, Philippines

To say Batanes summer is intense is an understatement! It is hell's kitchen! In Ivana, both sides of the national road has less vegetation. The lack of shed makes waiting for a ride a torture. You can just imagine how awfully difficult it is shun away from the biting afternoon sun.

Batanes Summer | the speck in the horizon, off-center, to my left is Itbayat Island

We arrived in Basco half an hour later. I checked my phone for the booking confirmation (thru SMS) coming from Mrs. Abrenilla of Babat Street home-stay but five hours later, there was still none. We alighted at the far end of Castillejo Street before the jeepney headed back to the center of town.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Homestay in Ivana, Batanes

A typical two-storey house in Batanes. This one though is left to decay.

"I'd have to say NOT literally on the road, but in the sea off-Batanes. I'm horrible at keeping my cool when waves are big. The falowa that time was whipped by big waves and the undercurrent was so intense I thought we would be swallowed by the sea any minute. But I could just laugh at the thought now because it turned out it was normal there! And there I was, pale and sweating like a pig and praying like never before!"--RV Escat on the question What’s the most horrible experience that you’ve had on the road? by flipnomad.com

Day 4. Time to head back to Batan Island where power supply is round-the-clock and coastal roads are paved. But there is one thing I dreaded the most--crossing the Sabtang-Ivana Strait. This leg of my Batanes adventure is as inescapable as the boat ride to the island of Itbayat. 

Ivana Church | Ivana, Batanes, Philippines

It's a big relief to see Ivana church growing inch by inch every minute as the falowa crawled its way to the port of Ivana town which is just across the church.

Searching for that elusive home!

If my memory serves me right, home-stay arrangements beyond the provincial capital is unheard of, so trying to find one in this small town 14 kilometers south of Basco is surely hit or miss. After walking almost to the end of town and several attempts asking the locals if they know of any lodging, this heritage house presented itself: 

The Hidalgo Ancestral House

The heritage house is typical of a one-storey Ibatan house. The walls, built to last many super typhoons, are made of stones while the roof,  more than one-meter thick and made of cogon grass, is said to have a lifespan of ten years under extreme weather conditions.  

Inside the house | Wackiness just started at the dining area.

Once inside, the house evokes a utilitarian feel to it. The high ceiling makes afternoon siesta during Batanes summer bearable; the small windows provide enough ventilation during the biting cold of Batanes winter and stormy weather. 

There is a misconception that Batanes is constantly being battered by typhoons. If Batanes is always mentioned in connection with weather disturbances, it is because its capital, Basco, holds the last weather station in the north. It is a reference point for all typhoons that enter the Philippine area of responsibility. It has no pronounced wet or dry season. It enjoys practically four seasons, the best ones being summer (April-June) and winter (December-February), when the temperature dips as low as seven degrees Celsius.--wikipedia

Though the renovations aren't as faithful to its original design, I'd like to believe that the wall that separates the living area from the single bedroom isn't there and the whole floor is a living room at daytime and transforms  into a sleeping quarter as night falls. For those who prefer to cook (highly recommended since there is only one carenderia in the whole town), the functional kitchen attached to the main house has a cooking stove, a fridge and cooking utensils for guests to use at no extra cost.

Now that I am in terra firma, solid ground, I can sleep well and worry about the waves when W and I get to Itbayat Island leg of the trip. 

Two Borges books! | would have been a good read. Only, it's in Korean!

This house has seen many travelers come and go. The previous week, the caretaker said, this was home to a Korean woman-writer. She stayed here for a month.

A few block away from the heritage house, more houses are left to decay. 

A bucolic afternoon in Ivana town

Visit Batanes

The heritage house is owned by the family of former Undersecretary of the Department of Education Dr. Fe Hidalgo. W and I paid Php600.00 per day rental for the whole house inclusive of light and water; and to keep us sane and sober during Batanes summer--aircon!

For inquiries and reservations, contact Juliet at +63.919.3695341