Stories

Batanes, the gem of the Philippines

by Frank Wigand Grosse-Oetringhaus - 3 months ago

Batanes is a very special island group in the Philippines, for several reasons.

It begins with the flight to this northernmost island group among the 7007 islands of the Philippines. The flights are the most expensive. 1,5 hours from Manila. If they fly, they fly very early and very punctual. If they fly… The runway is short, 800 m, directed towards the highest volcano of the islands, the majestic Iraya, 1009 m high, 5,5 km in base diameter, still listed as one of the active volcanos, although the last eruption was in 1454.

The pilot has no choice - no matter how the wind blows - he lands always towards the volcano and takes off always away from the volcano. You land closer to the Pacific ring of fire than anywhere else. Right on top.

You land on Batan, the main island of the 11 islands which form the Batanes. A province of its own. Only 3 of the islands are inhabited. Only a few kilometers away is the next big volcano, the Matarem, a stratovolcano as well, but older and inactive, only 405 m high because the prehistoric explosion was much stronger than the last one of the Iraya and blew almost the whole mountain into the air.

If you drive from the airfield to you hotel you will realize right away: This is arguably the most beautiful scenery of the Philippines. We call it a Mega-Highlight. The volcanos, the beaches, the rocky seashores, the rolling hills, a dramatic agricultural landscape. Here goats and cows compete for the most spectacular climb.

Hopefully you have chosen the Fundacion Pacita for your overnights, because this is by far the most stylish hotel with fantastic ocean and island views. Take the best room for the best view, yes this is breathtaking.

The Batanes are closer to Taiwan (190 km) that to Luzon (280 km). They had been the gateway to the Philippines in in the Austronesian migration 3000 BC from Fujian via Batanes to Luzon. The latest invasion was the Japanese invasion at the same day they bombed Pearl Harbor. You will see the bunkers, the tunnels and the bastions. And you will see the American installations for communication. You will understand the strategic importance of this island group.

The people are called Ivatans, they call themselves Wakay, they speak a different language, built unique stone houses, have high standards of moral and are generally good looking.

You need at least 2 days, one to land and explore Batan, the next day to explore the neighbor island of Sabtang. There could be rough seas and low tide that could turn this excursion into an adventure. The stone houses, the landscape with a spectacular coastline and the grass dresses of the people make this excursion a must while you are there.

A fantastic experience in the Philippines, a very different perspective of the country.

For TBT no point on the main list, for us definitely.



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