First things first — not everything in this list are “things”. Let’s not nitpick on the words and focus on the heavenly and awe-inspiring views of Batanes. And, yes, we’re not professional photographers. There may be more gorgeous views in and around Batanes, but we had to make the most out of a very quick trip (see also 15 Tips for your Batanes Travel). We’d love to revisit Batanes in the near future and spend more time taking photos of this nature-paradise.
Let’s face it, the gaggle of tricycles has become an eyesore in many places in the Philippines. Good thing Batanes kept it’s tricycle and cow population in check. A tricycle on the zigzag roads of Batanes can look very lonely. And lovely. Imagine a tricycle framed by the rocky hill on one side and the blue sea on the other. A friendly reminder for tourists who prefer a tricycle (or who run out of for-hire vans) to go around the main island of Basco during summer: wear sunscreen and/or appropriate clothing. Don’t let the tricycle turn into a fry-cycle.
2. Wooden Posts
A wooden post, by any other name, remains a wooden post. Stick it on Batanes’ undulating hills, covered by grass scorched golden-brown by the summer sun, and what do you get? Gorgeous wooden post. Only a deadwood won’t appreciate the wooden posts of Batanes. These wooden posts are most likely used as boundary markers (and support for exhausted tourists climbing back to the road after going to the beautiful cliffs).
3. Rusty Nails
We’re talking of nails used to keep a wooden door together, not those colorful nails pampered at the nail spa. We’ve noticed that nails are hidden by plaster in many furniture and houses. In Batanes, the people are proud of their weather-tested rusty nails. It’s like a badge of courage, a trophy for surviving the rough environment of Batanes.
4. Rusty Bicycles
If Batanes has rusty nails, it also has rusty bicycles. Nothing really special with bicycles — you see a bicycle almost anywhere, especially with the cycling fever hitting the country’s health and sports enthusiasts. For those into bikes to look good, try the rusty bicycles in the rustic province of Batanes.
5. Road Signs
There’s an odd road rule in Batanes: you — yes you, motorist — are encouraged to “Blow Ur Horn” (it’s an official road sign, not a jejemon text), especially around tight bends on cliffs with edges dropping hundreds of meters to the sea. Other than the “Blow Ur Horn” sign, Batanes shares practically the same road signs and road markers with the rest of the country. But do you take photos of road signs in the metro? Nope. You don’t. In Batanes, road signs and markers shine like stars.
One of the (weird) wonders of modern life is the crazy popularity of jump shots. Yes, lola, these are shots with the subjects leaping high in the air, right after the “1-2-3” cue from the photographer (and, yes, lolo, a photographer jumping while taking the shot is technically a “jump shot” but that’s not what we’re talking about). For some reason, jump shots look different in Batanes. Perfect at the Rolling Hills or Marlboro Country.
7. Stone Houses
We all know the stone houses, called “bahay na bato“, used by rich families during the Spanish era. In Batanes, a different version of the bahay na bato has been traditionally used by many inhabitants. Cement and steel bars are not used. These earthquake-proof and typhoon-proof stone houses are still widely used in Batanes to this day.
Weeds, defined as unwanted plants (not the illegal ones), can be found everywhere, even in your home’s roof gutter. Life can be difficult if you’re a weed — you’re ugly and unwanted. Batanes is where you want to be if you’re a weed. You cling to cliffs and, with constant view of the West Philippine Sea (or the Pacific Ocean, depending on which side of Batanes you’re stuck), you give color to the otherwise boring stone edges. You’re still unwanted, but you’re no longer ugly.
Batanes used to export beef, so it’s no wonder that cowboys and cows still abound in the province. Cows in Batanes hardly stick to herds. These solitary cows, leisurely grazing on hillsides, hardly move around and look like statues from afar. A stationary cow, with the rolling hills of Batanes as background, is picture-perfect. Looks great on camera. Tastes great on the plate. Only in Batanes.
You see chapels everywhere. There are chapels in hospitals and schools. There are chapels in caves and in skyscrapers. The Mount Carmel chapel in Batanes, however, will make any bride blush with love. It’s absolutely lovely, so much so that we’re thinking of nullifying our marriage so we can marry again in Mount Carmel chapel.
There’s a place in Batanes called the Boulder Bay. The place is so-named because the bay is filled with, well, boulders. Huge rocks piled on top of each other, stretching as far as the eyes can see. With the rugged cliffs and verdant slopes of Batanes as background, the Boulder Bay gives a whole new image to rocks. Boulder Bay rocks, dude (you know that line is coming, right?). We didn’t ask but we think anyone can take a swim in this beach. This is the mother of all multi-tasking: swim and get scrubbed at the same time.
What’s so special with cars? Exactly. Unless it’s a powerhorse that can make Dash or The Flash look like a snail, there’s nothing special with cars. But it’s a different story in Batanes. There was once a time, a kwentong-lasing goes, when there were only two cars in Batanes — one belonging to the public works department and the other to the army. One day, there was none left because the two vehicles collided. There are now more vehicles in Batanes (but they still RUN OUT of for-hire vehicles during peak tourist season). Now, take a look at this car (uhm, Toyota should really pay us something for this plug) parked along the sleepy slopes of Batanes and tell us: does it look more, uhm, aerodynamic? Kidding aside, any vehicle would look ruggedly handsome in Batanes.
So, there you go. The otherwise ordinary “things” we’ve encountered on a quick trip to Batanes. We’ll be featuring more stories of our visit. In the meantime, feel free to tell us about the ordinary “things” which you think are transformed into something different by the Batanes ambiance.