Basco Port, Basco, Batanes

Basco Port, Basco, Batanes © Owen Ballesteros

The port of Basco in Batanes is not just any other docking area. For the northernmost province of the Philippines, this means supplies—eggs, cement, rice—from mainland Luzon, traveling days along turbulent seas to get there. This means a whole lot more to Itbayat, a community of 3,000 living three more hours from the port, the northernmost habitation in the country: it is their only reliable and affordable channel to the rest of the world.

Photo by Owen Ballesteros

Batanes: The perfect trip

Just like everyone else, we had our eyes on Batanes ever since we started traveling. We daydreamed about its rolling hills (and plastered them on our walls for good measure) but never actually thought we could set foot on them—not this soon, and not this time of the year.

When 2013 came, we never thought we’d finally tick this off our bucket list (we were actually hoping somebody will send us there for an assignment of some sort, so that we’d never have to worry about anything including the expenses and the weather).

But as it happened, the opportunity to travel to Batanes came in the form of discounted fares in September (50% off the year-round ticket price), so we grabbed them immediately. We booked our flight just two weeks before departure, so it never really sunk in until we were finally at the airport, and then a smug-looking attendant wearing very thick makeup told us something we never wanted to hear: our flight was cancelled.
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Guide to biking around southern Batan Island, Batanes

Just because it took us 12 hours to bike around southern Batan Island does not mean the whole thing is such a pain in the arse (well, it really was, literally) and that you shouldn’t do it. You can, and for the record, you don’t need ninja biking skills to pull this one off. The roads of Batan Island are generally good, there will always be locals around to help you in case you run into trouble, and the route is easy to navigate even without a guide.

Biking around Batan Island, Batanes -
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Biking for 12 hours in Batanes

“Bakit ulit natin ginagawa ito?! Leche!!!” I exclaimed to Owen as I pushed my bike farther up against loose gravel.

We have been at it for nearly an hour, and before this, have been biking our muscles sore for 11 hours.

Our goal was to bike all around Batan Island starting from Basco, moving south to Mahatao, taking an inland detour to Diura Fishing Village, and then going back to Mahatao town proper to push farther south to the towns of Ivana, Uyugan, Itbud, and finally make the ascent back north to Marlboro Country and emerge at Mahatao town proper again.


But by this time, we were already so tired, we were in the middle of nowhere, it was nearing dark, and only the wind or cows or goats could hear whatever pleas we had. We had two choices: continue the hike to get back to Mahatao by nightfall (there were no lampposts and only dense forests along the way) or whimper like kids in the middle of the mountains.

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Timelapse: Breathtaking Batanes from sun up to sundown

There are absolutely no words to describe Batanes. It is, quite simply, the most jaw-dropping place we have ever set foot on.

We don’t know if any of the photos we took home will ever accurately depict what our eyes saw, but we tried, we really did. And this video, taken from Sabtang and Batan Islands during the four full days we explored Batanes, is one of these many attempts.

BATAN ISLAND: Valugan Beach, Radar Tukon, Naidi Lighthouse, Vayang Rolling Hills, Diura Fishing Village, Marlboro Country
SABTANG ISLAND: Chavayan, Sabtang Lighthouse, Morong Beach

One day, one night one moment
With a dream to be leaving
One step, one fall, one falter
Find a new world across a wide ocean
This way became my journey
This day brings together
Far and away
~Book of Days

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