That day was the day we’ll cross water and explore another island, Sabtang. I remember being still in awe and unexplicably excited over this entire trip. The night’s sleep was secondary in priority, but I think I had enough to store energy for that day.
The boat our group rode on was all-wood, and didn’t really give an impression that we were all set for a safe ride. But heck, these people should know what they were doing already, right? Manong Rogers, our guide, cited that the waves that morning were calm. To Batanes standards, 2-3 foot waves would be calm.
I sat at the tail end of the boat, which meant three of us faced straight vs. the others who sat on the sides. No roof, but the life vests we had had neck shields; I was braving the day minus actual head gear and sunblock. When bigger waves got to the boat, we had the occassional seawater sprayed on us. Of course, I didn’t mind, the ride was enjoyable, and I was snapping away with my cameras.
Approaching the coastline of Sabtang, I then realized why the tour reminders required us to bring slippers: we had to get our feet wet from the boat to the shore. And which imbecile wore shoes? I did. Newly bought mountain-type shoes, which I exclaimed are the type that would be fine even when wet. Manong Rogers didn’t think so, and carried my heft to shore. A blog out there has an actual photo of the incident haha.
I was glad to see a school and what looked old limestone structures: this meant kids and a very, very nice backdrop. The photo below was taken when things were getting organized for our group’s transportation. Easily, a big favorite from the trip:
Up for viewing are the Batanes-type houses, the breathtaking landscapes, and the engaging local folk. I gravitated towards the kids around, and I was wondering why not a lot of my camera-toting groupmates were that interested.
Lunch was had at a cafeteria near a school, where we had coconut crab, fresh fish, and turmeric rice. The last stop for Sabtang was an actual sandbeach. Never been a beach bum, but the sight was just way too remarkable, it might even convince me to consider being one.
Then we were set to back in Basco. Marrku did a very dramatic recount of what happened, but I’ll give you my take in an easy-to-understand bulleted form:
- Waves averaged 5 feet in height. I’m not a measurement guru, but the past-noon seas looked pretty mean.
- Boarded the boat easy, settled to one of the side rows. I have my camera gear settled in my camera bag, inside garbage bags. I don’t think I’ll shoot during the ride anymore.
- Took roughly 30 minutes for the boat to maneuver to face our island destination. People kept to themselves, it looked like the pilot and his crew had a difficult time doing this, one had to dive several times to help with the turnaround.
- Then came the two big waves: the first wave, the boat got to slide by. The second one? The second one drenched the entire group, putting knee-deep water inside the boat, and causing something inside the boat to spray water at several places. Of course, panic among the group ensued, but the pilot and the most of the crew looked like they didn’t consider this life-threatening.
- Me? I took out my cellphone, and took a video. No, not as a bye-world documentation, but as a this-is-so-effing-cool happening to my otherwise un-exciting existence thing:
- Pails were used to take out the water, and pleas for a return to Sabtang were heard. You couldn’t speak much to Manong Rogers at this time, but he assured us that there’s nothing to be worried about, and that the water spraying from below was caused by a malfunctioned flywheel, NOT a hole in the boat.
- Oh yeah, this also was around the type a bolo was taken out to fix something, and some of the locals we were with started wearing life vests.
- All that happened in around 5-10 minutes, and the rest of the boat ride back to Basco was uneventful already.
Back at the lodge, people conked out, and weren’t that interested in the last destination, Fundacion Pacita, a gallery/studio set up by the late artist Pacita Abad. Half of us still decided to go, and a handful decided to pass by the town proper for merienda.
Before our intended stopover, we passed by a weather station with a grand view of the town, a small church being built, and an aiport under construction.
Fundacion Pacita was located on a hill with a to-kill-for view.
And across that hill was former government-man Butch Abad’s house, with a terrace area you just can’t replicate anywhere.
The above photo is the only picture from any of my cameras with me in it. Oddly, you know the photo-contest being held for this trip? I was the hesitant subject of at least 3 participants.
So, to cap it all off, we went back to the town proper to guy some pasalubong. I got myself some coin purses for the officemates, an Ivatan house replica for myself, and a few bottles of sugar cane wine, which was marketed as much better than red wine.
After taking the basic directions back to the hotel, I decided to go on a solo walkabout, and take in the Basco evening air.
The return to the lodge was greeted by dinner, a dance presentation by the locals, and the photo contest proper. I went for a theme that was already obvious from the photos I’ve taken: Batanes Kids Running Away From Me. The theme title was longer, but it really didn’t matter because I didn’t win any of the Epson printers. Woe was me, but I am more in dire need of a scanner with film-scanning capabilities.
Thanks again to Epson Philippines and Geiser Maclang for this once-in-a-lifetime experience!
View my Batanes photsets here:
Black-and-white shots – http://flickr.com/photos/raincontreras/sets/72157604000288045/
Panoramic colored shots – http://flickr.com/photos/raincontreras/sets/72157604001842401/
The other bloggers who went with me to the trip:
Marrku: mucho thanks for the invite!
Joey, who won 1st Prize. I was reluctant model for Photo #2 in his winning photo-essay.
Hana, who won a special prize for her series as well.
Roommate Jayvee. We were told we stayed in the room where the Batanes moviestars were.
Juned, who took several film cameras with him. I could’ve done the same thing, but nah, the DSLR + Horizon 202 combo sufficed.
Wedding photographers Mimi and Karl; Karl being the hero of Sabtang, yo!
Ferdz, the returning Batanes visitor, who told us his boat ride from Sabtang wasn’t so lucky: his boat went on its side, and they were stranded for 2 days. That was darn lucky if you ask me!
AJ, who won second prize in the contest, and who was pretty much life of the party.
Eric, of Byahilo.com, who would often steal my set shots lol