Still stunned with the breathtaking places we visited in North Batan and Sabtang Island, we were once again captivated by the paradise that is Batanes. If love, as they say, is lovelier the second time around, Batanes is no doubt lovelier the third time around – as we were able to prove with our third day South Batan tour.
Just like our North Batan tour, it took as half day to explore South Batan which covers 3 municipalities: Ivana, Uyugan and Mahatao starting at Chawa View Deck.
Chawa View Deck
Chawa in Ivatan means cliff. The viewing deck made at the cliff will give you a sight of the West Philippine Sea. Chawa View Deck is located on a steep mountain that you will first pass by as you head out of Basco going to Mahatao.
From the viewing deck, you can actually go down the mountainside as approximately 150 concrete steps were made that leads to the sea. Going down, you will notice a cave at one side. We did not try to go to the cave anymore for we have to cross a steep, narrow and undefined rocky path. At the bottom, you will find a small lagoon.
Mahatao Boat Shelter Port
We next dropped by Mahatao Boat Shelter Port. While we were approaching the port, we noticed a crowd busily attending to something – a yellowfin tuna! Fishing is one of the main livelihoods in Batanes and yellowfin tuna is one of their favorite catch.
Mahatao Boat Shelter Port was constructed by the provincial government to support the fishing industry of Batanes. Boats dock at the shelter port during bad weather and the huge rocks surrounding it protect the boats from strong waves.
San Carlos Borromeo Church
After Mahatao Port, we next visited San Carlos Borromeo Church. First built in 1787, San Carlos Borromeo was rebuilt again in 1872 after it has been destroyed by a typhoon. The National Museum declared it as a national cultural treasure in July, 2001.
Built in the year 2000, we then headed to Tayid Lighthouse that offers a wonderful view of the West Philippine Sea and some parts of Batan Island. Unlike Basco Lighthouse in Naidi Hills, Tayid Lighthouse is fully functional. Just beside the lighthouse is a pastureland but we were advised not to step a foot on it because it is privately owned.
Racuh A Payaman
Batanes will definitely not run out of a magnificent view to offer with Racuh a Payaman where we went after Tayid Lighthouse. Racuh a Payaman is one of the favorite spots in Batanes. It is also popularly known as Marlboro Country as it resembles the location of the famous cigarette commercial first launched in 1950s.
Racuh A Payaman is owned by the municipality of Mahatao. A communal pastureland, locals can leave their animals here and let them be. They just put ear tags to recognize their animals. For safety purposes, tourists were advised not to go very near them.
With the combination of the seemingly endless green pastureland, deep blue sea and soaring mountains, Racuh A Payaman makes anyone who visits it speechless. It is certainly one of the best sights you should see for yourself at least once in your lifetime.
After our Mahatao town tour, we next visited Uyugan town.
Uyugan Town’s Old Naval Base and Alapad Hill
At the town of Uyugan is where Imnajbu Village and Alapad Hill are located. Built at Imnajbu Village is an old American naval base. Today, it is being reconstructed to be a national museum in Batanes. We did not go to the village but we sighted the base on Alapad Hill.
Reaching the end of Alapad Hill is again another fantastic view of the ocean. Alapad rock formations can also be seen. Alapad in Ivatan means “malapad” or wide. You can have a very serene 15-minute break here.
Uyugan Town’s Song-song Ruins
Song-song village was hit by a tsunami in the 1950’s and was abandoned ever since. Today, only the ruins of the stone houses remain making it a “ghost village”.
Following our quick Uyugan town tour is another short tour at Ivana town starting at House of Dakay.
House of Dakay in Ivana
Originally owned by Luisa Estrella, House of Dakay or Vajay ni Dakay was given as inheritance to Jose “Dakay” Estrella (Luisa’s nephew). It is said to be one of the oldest stone houses in the town and is one of the five houses that survived the earthquake with a magnitude of 8.3 in 1918.
Old Spanish Bridge
Going around Ivana, we saw this old Spanish bridge which is still being used today.
Honesty Coffee Shop
Honesty Coffee Shop does not offer any special coffee but it has gained its popularity even to tourists because of the honesty policy being employed in selling goods. No one looks after the shop and only relies on the honesty of its guests in paying. Guests can get any item they need. They just need to log it in a notebook and put the corresponding payment in a box provided.
Ivana Church (San Jose de Obrero Church)
Ivana Church is located just across the Honesty Coffee Shop. First built in 1787 as a chapel, Ivana Church was rebuilt as a stone church in 1795. A bell tower is also constructed on its side. Destroyed by an earthquake in the year 2000, it was reconstructed in 2001.
Port of Ivana
The Port of Ivana is located just beside the Honesty Coffee Shop, in front of Ivana Church. This is the jump-off point for boats going to Sabtang Island. Huge water breakers can be found at the port to control strong waves making it easier to load and unload passengers and even goods.