I woke up by the buzzing sound of my alarm and surprisingly I wasn’t that groggy. Day 1 was done but I still found it hard to believe that I was actually on the place where I once dreamt of. I put on a sheepish grin and I looked stupid for doing it again and again. The five minutes leeway I gave to myself was over so I forced myself to stand. I started to fix my things and get ready for our next adventure that is -Sabtang.
As we were on our way, unconsciously tears started to swell up my eyes. I went to Batanes with lots of questions in mind. For the past few months, I was asking myself if I was doing the right thing and if I was on the right path. At first I felt like I was waiting for something that isn’t going to happen. I took all the risks and dodge all the bullets for this very thing that I am passionate about but it feels like I am still on the same place. I couldn’t help but to feel sad and broken, but I am deceiving myself by telling him that things will get better and that I need to trust in that. I brushed all of my apprehensions and wiped my tears. As we were leaving Basco, I decided to leave everything behind me as well and live in the moment.
Sabtang, is the southernmost island in Batanes. It is famous for none other than the old stone houses of the Ivatan villages of Chavayan and Savidug. When asked what I wanted to do in Batanes, I only have one thing in mind – to live and sleep in a stone house. Sabtang has so much culture in it, it is the Batanes that I picture every time I think of the place. I was ecstatic that finally, I will get to meet her.
We waited for our ride, a Faluwa, a small motorized boat Ivatans use to travel by water. Going there is already an adventure itself for one will encounter big bad waves and a very shaky ride. For some 30-40 minutes after, we found ourselves in an entirely new place and I was awestruck by Batanes again.
We started the trip by registering our names at Sabtang’s Tourism office then off we go. We rented a jeepney to take us to the whole island of Sabtang including the off-the-beaten and not so touristy destinations. We were singing inside the jeepney while playing around with music from the 90’s. It was only the four of us but it didn’t stop us from having the time of our lives. It was crazy and it was like the world was ours in that moment.
First stop: A path walk or some sort of a boulevard which I forgot the name. It was a quick stop, we just ran, took some photos and a snippet for our video.
We then drove our way to Chavayan, a small village of houses made out of stones and roofs made from layers of cogon grass. It is also the home of the Sabtang Weavers Association – makers of “Vakul” and other Ivatan traditional gears or clothing.
Making it to Chavayan was like the proof that I needed to convince myself that I was indeed in Batanes. During my grade school years, I was just reading about the stone houses but right at that moment I was actually standing in front of one.
Being a small village they also have their own Chapel, the Sta. Rosa de Lima Chapel or commonly known as the Chavayan Chapel. It is said to be as the only remaining church in Batanes which roof is made out of cogon grass.
Our next stop was the Chamantad Cove and Tinyan Viewpoint which got me lost for words. Beautiful isn’t enough to describe how mesmerized I was with the place. Grass slopes, cliffs, waves freely crashing to the shore and a virgin isolated beach – all in one.
Truly picturesque and one of a kind. It may require you to trek for a bit but good Lord, the place is such a paradise.
On our way to the town of Savidug, we passed by the area where lime stones were made so we took the opportunity to listen to our driver about the process on how it is being shaped.
When we arrived at Savidug, our driver accompanied us to St. Thomas Aquinas Chapel and the Old Beaterio. After having our photos taken, we readied ourselves and moved to our next destination.
We had our lunch at Morong Beach where Mayahaw Arch and Nakabuang Cave is also located. Everything was already prepared for us, that all we had to do was to open our mouth and eat.
Morong Beach is probably one of the few beaches in Batanes where you can go for a swim since it has a long stretch of white sand compared to those that has boulders of stone. We spent like an hour exploring the beach area, the arch and the cave. We even climbed the rocks just to see the view on the top and boy it’s amazing.
It drizzled a bit and we were contemplating whether to take the driver’s offer of bringing us to Sumnanga, or also known as The Little Hong Kong for an additional fee. Since we were already there and it wouldn’t hurt our pockets that much, we took it and braved the dangerous way to Sumnanga, the farthest town in Sabtang.
When we arrived, the place didn’t fascinate us that much. We couldn’t see any resemblance of it to Hong Kong and our driver couldn’t even tell us why it was called as such. What amazed us is that it is like a little ghost town. No one was around that time and the houses were just open. All we could hear is the sound of a boar in a distance and the crashing of the waves.
It might not be what we were expecting but again, the opportunity of going that far and being able to explore Sabtang, we can say from tip-to-tip is an experience only a few were able to take.
We went back to our ride and sleep on our way back. It was a tiring day but we still haven’t had enough of Sabtang. We stopped and made our way to Sabtang Lighthouse even if we were told that it is not allowed.
It was past four in the afternoon when we arrived at Sinakan Village. We wandered around while looking for our homestay and we came across San Vicente Ferrer Church or commonly known as Sabtang Church.
When we arrived at Nanay Pacing’s stone house, our accommodation for that night, we settled in for some talk with our host. There was no internet connection there, cellphone signal is limited and electricity’s down at 12 midnight but the experience gave us a much more better connection.
We had our dinner and we tried coconut crabs for the first time. The dinner we had in Sabtang is probably the best dinner I have had for years not because of the food but because of my companions. We were all laughing and that moment made me completely forget all of my troubles. It felt light, everything felt right that night.
We woke up having to fight the coldness and the darkness. Electricity is still a problem in that part of Batanes but locals have gotten use to it. Life’s pretty simple and laid back. I love how it makes me feel as if everything is possible, or like life is worth it even in that kind of situation. We bade our goodbye to Sabtang having in mind the thought of going back. I did not shed a tear that time anymore but it was the sky who did. On our way back to Ivana, the waves were intense and we started to get a little bit dizzy. I know in my heart that it is Sabtang’s way of saying that I need to go back anytime sooner and I will not fail her, I hope not to fail her.
Batanes opened up the idea of traveling light. To release a grudge, a problem or any thing that I worry about. I became grateful for the hard times and the problems I have faced for it was during those times that I was able to know what I am made of. With the help of this trip, slowly I was able to give myself the opportunity to rebuild it, stronger than ever before. More importantly, the experience made me realize, that if I can, which I know I can… to be the light itself.
My Batanes series: