It’s easy to wax nostalgic, or reflect on one’s life and the future, while perched on top of the rolling hills of Batanes. This breathtaking destination, with its majestic view of the ocean, rests a few kilometers north of Basco, the capital of Batanes (the Rolling Hills is different from the marlboro country, another Batanes destination with breathtaking view). We’re not sure with you, but here are the five things that entered our minds when we arrived on the rolling hills of Batanes.
5. Happy Cow!
We’ve decided not to use the word “holy” because it might offend someone’s religious feelings. Besides, it’s just a caption; more important is the meat, or content, of what want to say — the cows of Batanes are mostly alone (but, all the visitors and the grand view, certainly not lonely). Solitary cows, except a cow or two with a calf, litter the rolling hills. Just like human beings before the advent of gadgets, cows are social animals, which is why there’s a word specifically used to refer to a group of cows. No, it’s not “canned corned beef” (which is a phrase). It’s called a “herd”.
Maybe the cows of Batanes didnt get the memo that selfie is so yesterday. The trend nowadays is usie (sometimes spelled ussie, depending on how generous you want with the letter “s”). Still, based on how these solitary cows leisurely eat the grass, it’s clear that these are happy cows. Which brings us to a theory: remove the cows of Batanes and the tourism board will need a battalion of lawn mowers to groom the rolling hills to smooth grass finish. So, next time you encounter a cow in Batanes, say “thank you.”
4. The Hills are Alive
It’s not surprising if guests are overwhelmed by the view of the rolling hills. This is the problem (if we can even call it a problem) with the rolling hills of Batanes. The act of thinking (if we can call it an act) plays close second to the act of feeling (if we can also call it an act). Really, the first time we saw the rolling hills, so many thoughts flooded our minds all at the same time, we’re not really sure which thought came first.
But we’re absolutely certain that one of those initial thoughts, or feeling, or whatever we may call it, is the urge to sing — out loud — that “the hills are alive with the sound of music.” Yes, we know that the song is from the 1959 movie-musical of the same title, The Sound of Music. But we’re not THAT old. We must have been stuck somewhere, in a long distance plane trip perhaps, and that old movie was showing. That movie-musical is situated in Austria, but the feeling one gets on the rolling hills of Batanes is surely not far off.
I, for one, wanted to sing, except that I don’t sing. I wanted to sway and dance to the wind, except that I don’t dance. So I sang inside my head. The song lasted only for a second or two because there were other things that require one’s attention. Like how not to fall/roll off the hill.
3. Rock ’n Roll
No, we’re not thinking about a music genre; the only music one (old enough) can possibly think about is The Sound of Music. We’re thinking about something entirely different, something down-to-earth: falling. What happens if, for some reason including clumsiness, we trip and roll on the steep slopes that leads to the bottom of those tall hills? We’d probably survive, we thought, although the ride, or roll, would probably grow more interesting, and more painful, if there are rocks along the way.
2. Your Loved One
There’s absolutely no doubt that each one, without others, can soak and appreciate all the grandeur of Batanes. We sometimes prefer solitude and the joys that come with it. We get to reflect on things. We get to recharge our soul. Anybody can take a solo flight, go see the hills, and take photos to share with everyone.
This is what selfies are for. Selfies, however, cannot possibly contain the happiness and emotions evoked by the sight of the rolling hills. A selfie, even if posted in facebook and a million other social media, simply wouldn’t do. A beauty of Nature, a beauty like the rolling hills of Batanes, calls out to be shared (always mindful, of course, of the nature traveler’s mantra of “take nothing but pictures, bring nothing but memories, leave nothing but footprints”). Remember that it’s now about the “usie”. It’s close to an abomination not to share wonderful moments.
1. The Beauty of the Philippines
If you’re still surprised every time we say that the Philippines — this group of islands fittingly known as the Pearl of the Orient Sea — is beautiful, you haven’t read enough posts in VisitPinas. We’ve said it thousands of times before, and we’ll say it again (and again): the Philippines is a beautiful country. And standing on the rolling hills of Batanes, immediately after stepping off the tour vehicle, the same exact thought crossed our excited mind: it’s bEAAAUUUUUTIFULLLL (go on, go read that word and say it out loud).
One or two in the group said it out loud, “Ang ganda!!” (it sounds so Ricky Reyes, no?). Some whispered the word. Some didn’t say anything, their wide open eyes and huge smiles saying it all. It’s like getting hit by that old (yet still wonderful) jingle of the Philippine Airlines or PAL, as Mrs. Laurente noted: “The beauty of the Philippines….shining through.” If you, like us (ahem), are too young to remember that commercial, say thanks to youtube:
This commercial never fails to bring smiles to our faces (and tears to our eyes, sometimes). Pretty much like the rolling hills of Batanes. You should really go see and experience Batanes.