Batanes is located at the northern most part of the Philippines. It is actually consists of 3 separated major islands along with a number of small islands. The Batan, Sabtang, and Itbayat are the major islands of Batanes. Before the Spanish Colonization, the Ivatans were said to be seafaring people who were good in hunting, boat making, and fishing. Even before the coming of the Spaniards, the Ivatans already had a well-established community and settlements. Batanes have a long and interesting history but their undying spirit and gaiety are just some of their many admirable qualities.
As early as the late 1600s, Spanish friars had already attempted to Christianize the people of Batanes but it was only at the leadership of Governor Jose Basco y Vargas that Batanes was officially under the Spanish rule. The capital of Batanes, now known as Basco, was named after the Governor. It was during this time that many stone churches were built around the place.
If you will observe the seashores of Batanes, most of them are littered with large stones that are called Limes. These were used to build the Ivatans' stone houses that are still standing up to this day. The churches were also made from limestones that were crafted and cut mostly by the imported workers from Cagayan commissioned by the Spaniards. The Idiang or the Ivatan stone houses were especially designed to withstand typhoons. Batanes is also known as the "Homes of the Winds" and lies along the typhoon belt which meant that the place is frequented by usually strong typhoons. The Ivatans usually experiences a minimum of 10 typhoons every year but their stone houses weathered strongly every storm that passes by and keeps the people safe and sound all year round.
Their discipline and mastery of their environment are also their most admirable quality. Batanes is gifted with so much natural resources and the Ivatans do their outmost best to take care of their homeland. It is also a home to only one volcano located in Batan Island called Mount Iraya. Another interesting fact about Batanes is that its northern most island is relatively closer to Taiwan than that of Luzon. Ivatan usually wears a protective hat-like gear on their heads made from Date Palms to keep them rainproof. Batanes experiences the harshest weather conditions but the people remain adaptive, disciplined, and resilient. The Ivatans are also said to have the most well maintained culture and traditions. This is why when visiting Batanes, it seems like another paradise altogether because of the rich values demonstrated in their simple ways of life.
Batanes is the dream vacation destination for adventure junkies, history buffs, photographers, and practically everyone who wants to experience a genuine paradise experience. You'd be amazed at how green and verdant the surroundings are. The islands in Batanes take you to another level of vacation and make you wonder if you are still at the Philippines. And there is so much history and heart in the Batanes that a vacation there would totally be good for your body, mind, and soul!
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