"When God created the world, He gave his best in Batanes." -- Mandy Navasero.
With that quote alone I bet you can already visualize how beautiful Batanes and how truly blessed our Bayanihan Republic is! Considered as the smallest province in the Philippines, in terms of land area and population, Batanes is a group of islands located at northern Philippines and south of Taiwan. It has 10 islands but only 3 are inhabited, Batan, Sabtang and Itbayat.
So what really hooked me in going to Batanes? It was a magazine article I read years ago when Filipino photographers voted / declared Batanes as the most photogenic place in the Philippines! I saw the pics and I was just amazed and got intrigued with the beauty of the islands. Wrongly, I told myself, and my friends that it just looks like New Zealand! Why did I say wrongly? Well, because Batanes has a beauty of its own, comparing it with another place is a mortal sin.
Before, I introduced the idea to my friends of going to Batanes but the reactions I got were going there is as expensive as going out of the country, and they might as well take a vacation offshore with that price. But foydi, being the nationalistic and idealistic foydi (I would like to believe I am hehe), was not disheartened by this. I told myself, whether alone or with companions, I will go on a journey to the paradise called Batanes! (See related story here: IPad2 or Batanes).
|San Carlos View Deck|
It was a long search but destiny brought me to getting in touch with topnotch photographer Mandy Navasero, whom I've known in the past because of the scholarship grant I got from the Public Relations Society of the Philippines (PRSP) where she is a part of. And without much further ado, I joined the trip to Batanes that she organized for photographers and photo hobbyists! And in late December 2011 to early January 2012, I finally booked my flight to Batanes! :)
It was toxic week before my flight to Batanes but one by one, I tried to prepare all the things I need for the trip -- sun block, toiletries, energy bars, aqua shoes, extra SD card, extra batteries, DSLR camera (I actually brought 3 cameras! Nikon DSLR, Olympus 15x optical zoom digicam and pocket Nikon digicam) etc. Come Day 0, at 11 pm, I started packing! In short, I didn't get any sleep prior to the trip :(
We were advised to be at the old domestic airport 45 minutes before our flight (5:15 am). But afraid of missing the flight, I overestimated and arrived at the airport at 4 am, which is even 1 1/2 hours before the flight! Oh well, better way early than sorry right? Hehe. Unfortunately, the flight was delayed and I guess we boarded the plane either a little before or after 6 am. To be honest, at first, even though I am determined to go on this trip, I was a bit worried as well since it will be my first time to ride a small plane (36 seater) in a much farther place (although I've ridden Asian Spirit going to Bohol already, but Batanes I thinks is more distant). But oh well I thought if I'll let fear conquer me, then I won't be able to discover new things in my life. And besides, I believe there's nothing to worry with God around :).
So with much excitement, we boarded the SEAIR plane bound for Basco, the capital of Batanes. Actually, I was impressed with the plane, it may be small but I can feel the comfort and exclusivity of the airplane. Then in a few minutes, the plane already took off! Thank goodness I was seated beside the window so I was able to see the topshot or our country and take some photos! :)
|Inside the airplane|
Then since I didn't have any sleep yet, I fell asleep after 30 minutes. But later on, the voice of the captain woke me up, saying we are already near our destination! So I immediately looked at the window and saw the sea approaching Batanes! And as we land, I witnessed the magnificent charm of the place! We haven't landed yet but I already saw the tip of how breathtaking Batanes is! Mapapamura ka sa ganda! :D
|We're about to land on the paradise called Batanes! :)|
I think it's worth mentioning as well that really had a pleasant trip from Manila going to Basco. I didn't expect it will be a smooth and comfortable one. Thanks to SEAIR for that! :)
As soon as we arrived at the airport, we were then welcomed by our tour guide Mang Roger. We rode a jeep going to our residence in Batanes, The Batanes Seaside Lodge and Restaurant! It's not a 5 star hotel but the ambiance of the place is so homey and relaxing. The first place I explored is the terrace facing the sea! And I immediately got mesmerized and I felt so lucky that we have checked in in this place. Upon checking in, we proceeded to the cafeteria where we ate our breakfast, fried flying fish (which Batanes is so abundant of), fried egg, tomatoes and rice. Right after breakfast and some freshening up, we were then ready for the first thing in our itinerary, a trip to the Japanese Tunnel and the hills near to it!
|The first travel and photo buddies I met during the trip: Alex, Melds and Lilybeth inside our official ride! :)|
|The scenic view from out lodge!|
|Right after breakfast and before heading on to our first destination, we had a brief orientation and introduction.|
But before reaching the Jap tunnel, we stopped at this road to take our first shots. This activity showed us how to take photos with deep backdrop.
After the brief photo session, we went back to the jeep and continued the ride. Mang Roger said the Japanese soldiers built and used this tunnel during World War 2. It was dark inside so we relied on a flashlight that led everyone to the chambers. Going down to the chamber where we were led to was a bit slippery so we were extra careful going down. But as soon as we saw the light at the end of the tunnel, we were delighted like kids in hurrying up to going out.
And as we exit the tunnel, after a few more steps (and some victory photo ops! hehe), we finally saw and experienced the first Batanes' hills of our trip! And it was simply stunning! And with that, we hurried again to take photos of the place, and ourselves! :D Every angle has a beauty of its own!
|The ADB Camera Club|
|A view of Mount Iraya|
That's it for now folks. There's more to follow for our Day 1 adventure! Watch out for it! :)
To be continued...
To be continued...