South Batan Tour (Part 2)
For the second half of our South Batan trip, we toured around the the town of Ivana and Uyugan.
Known as Racuh A Payaman to locals and Marlboro Country to tourists, this is one of the most photographed locations in Batanes. The rolling hills in the municipality of Uyugan offer a truly majestic, breath taking view. Here, where some of nature’s bests seem to compete for attention, you’ll be too excited and baffled at the same time on where you should look first; is it the waving pasture, the boundless blue sky and the West Philippine Sea, the proud Mt. Iraya kissing the clouds on the left or the Diura Beach below. Even Tayid Lighthouse can be seen in this location. Locals are allowed to bring up to ten cows at a time to graze in the area.
The hills are truly alive and the sheer beauty of this place makes you just want to rollover the slope, lie on the lush greens and stare at the sky. Despite of the heat and forceful winds, we lingered in Marlboro Country for a while and each took a moment to just savor the tranquillity and delight of being in that place. This would have to be my most favourite spot in Batanes.
Honesty Coffee Shop
“Ganoon na ba talaga ka-rare ang honesty para gawing tourist attraction?” (“Is honesty really that rare to make it a tourist attraction?” Another line from the movie, You’re My Boss shot in Batanes.
I have watched several feature stories on tv about this unmanned sari-sari store and coffee shop in the town of Ivana. It’s a surprise to hear about a store where the owners rely on the honesty of guests to rightfully pay for whatever product they take. Goods vary from biscuits, to chips, soda, and locally made desserts and souvenirs; guests can drop off payments on a designated box. Good thing, this coffee shop is really a part of tour packages in the main island.
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A sign inside says “this store is too small for dishonest people,” another one reads, “be honest even if others are not, even if others will not, even if others cannot. Owned by couple Jose and Elena Gabilo, the store was originally named Honesty café when it opened in 1998.
House of Dakay
A UNESCO World Heritage Building, the House of Dakay is the oldest surviving traditional Ivatan house in Batan Island. When the Spaniards occupied Batanes in the late 1700s, they taught the natives on how to make fortified houses that can withstand earthquakes and typhoons. The indigenous wooden huts of the locals were replaced with vertical structures with limestone walls and cogon roofs. Nets are placed on top to provide more protection against strong winds and rains.
The House of Dakay was built in 1887 and is one the five remaining old Ivatan houses in Batan island.
On our way to the House of Dakay, we passed another old house in Uyugan and this old Spanish bridge.
Alapad Hills and Rock Formations
Another famous attraction in Batanes is Alapad Hills and Rock Formations in Uyugan town, still in the island of Batan. The road cuts through the hill and welcomes you to a lovely view of the Pacific Ocean. Etched in our minds because of the remarkable scenes from the 1990s movie, “Hihintayin Kita sa Langit” that were filmed here, this spot has long been famous. You can go around the coastline while enjoying the breeze and splendid sight.
Biking around Basco
When the tour ended, our guide was so kind to join us again just like the previous. We rented bicycles for 80 pesos each and biked our way from Marfel’s lodge to Basco Marine Sanctuary to go for another swim.
I have not biked for a long time and it was extra fun because of my friends. We had the perfect view and afternoon weather; there were also very few vehicles on the road and I felt really safe. The slow ride while pedaling gave a better view of the town. It was amusing and easy at the beginning, but became a challenge when we reached the slightly uphill road near the sanctuary. Reaching our destination, we had another wonderful time watching the sunset while swimming. Still on our bikes, it was already dark when we got home.