Discover Batanes

The Batanes island group is the smallest province in the Philippines in terms of population and land area. The capital of Batanes, Basco is 280 kilometers north of Apari, Cagayan. Batanes consist of 10 tiny islands of which only the islands of Batan, Sabtang, and Itbayat are inhabited.

The people who inhabit these islands are called Ivatans who descended from Austronesians who migrated to the Batanes Islands 4000 years ago during the Neolithic period. They lived in fortified mountain areas called idjangs and drank sugar-cane wine, or palek. They also used gold as currency and produced a thriving agriculture-based industry. They were also seafarers and boat-builders. Ivatans are honest, gentle and polite but brave and robust. They are proud of their heritage and their land.

The main languages spoken in Batanes are Ivatan, which is spoken on the islands of Batan and Sabtang, and Ichbayaten, which is spoken primarily on the island of Itbayat. The Ivatan which is dominant in the province is considered to be one of the Austronesian languages. The dialect is widely spoken from college level down to elementary level.The landscape of Batanes is also distinct from other Philippine provinces due to the steep cliffs, rolling hills, deep canyons and boulder-lined shores. These natural earth formations make Batanes a very exciting place to visit. Take for example the picturesque Batanes Hills and the rocky shore in Valugan Beach where one can be one with nature.

The weather of Batanes is cool and windy. And it rains any month of the year. Compared to the rest of the country, the Batanes weather is rather pleasant. It has an almost temperate temperature from December to February where temperatures dip as low as 7 degrees centigrade. It enjoys practically four seasons, the best one being summer which is from March to June. Average monthly rainfall is 450 mm.

The wind swept islands of Batanes are beautiful and enchanting and they are like no other in the Philippines.

The province has a total agricultural land area of 5,438 hectares and has a wide area open for agricultural expansion. Due to its terrain, it is a major livestock producer with cattle as its main stock. Carabaos and goats are also popularly raised. Another major industry is fishing which reaches its peak during the summer months, from March to June, when the seawater is relatively calm.

But in spite of the reputation of Batanes as a backward region, it now has modern conveniences like mobile phones (cell sites by Smart & Globe Telecoms), electricity and cable television but hardly any vehicles.

There are numerous activities that await you in the islands of Batanes. You can swim in one of its magnificent beaches, visit the fishing villages, the historic churches and lighthouses, do some island hopping, and the most important of all; take it easy, unwind, and be one with nature.

A trip to Batanes provides one a feeling of perpetuity, an experience that is worth reminiscing. The people, the place, and the surroundings of Batanes will make you appreciate the joy of trouble-free and stress free living. With all these in mind, surely, your trip back home will be spent on thinking of when to visit the islands again.

The most recommended tourists’ destinations:

• House of Dakay (1887) a UNESCO heritage building.
• Lighthouses of Batanes
• St. Dominic de Guzman Parish Cathedral
• Mt. Iraya – A 1008-meter mountain on Batan Island.
• Mahatao View Deck
• Burial Caves – Pre-historic burial caves in the town of Itbayat.
• Sumhao Wind Power Plant
• Nakaboang Beach, Ark & Cave
• Songsong Ruins
• Beaches – Chadpidan Beach, White Beach and more.
Rakuh-A-Payaman – known as “Marlboro Country”, a pasture overlooking farm fields & the Pacific Ocean