Batanes Day 2: Touring Sabtang (part 3) – 12/09/09

Stomachs bursting with a very filling lunch, we resumed our tour towards the other side of Sabtang to visit the towns of Sumnanga and Nakanmuan.  For this, we had to enter Baranggay Malakdang (one of the twin baranggays that compose Centro).  The first stop was the nearby Nakabuang Beach.  This was a white sand beach that is famous for a natural rock formation which resembles a 15-foot high arch.

The Nakabuang Beach
The Nakabuang Arch

The sand is definitely not near Boracay-fine, but there’s no beach rental here and no business establishments.  This is the closest to pristine as you can get that is nearby and very accessible from the town center.  Tourists usually arrange to have lunch here near one of the rock formations.  I spent some time here just soaking in the view and taking some pictures.  I unfortunately did not get to take nice photos of the arch because of the position of the sun in the early afternoon in this beach meant there would be too much shadow in the arch and too much light in the background.)

Along the way to the town of Sumnanga, and just leaving Nakabuang Beach, I saw a wild bayawak by the roadside for the very first time.  Unfortunately, I was not able to take a picture of it, because the multicab was very noisy and fast, so before I could aim for a shot, it had already scampered away in the low bush.  Erwin is lucky because he was actually able to shoot a large on in the middle of the road in basically the same area – he was no less helped by the fact that he was riding a motorcycle, which was considerably less-threatening and a lot more quiet than a multicab.

So on to Sumnanga.  It was a particularly rough journey going there as the road was seemingly just built for the sake of having a road, without regard for the steepness of the paths taken.  Sumnanga and Nakanmuan are on the western coast of Sabtang island while Centro and Nakabuang Beach are on the east.  That means one would have to traverse the entire northern coast of Sabtang to get to those two western villages.

The northern coast of Sabtang has it’s own share of spectacular views, the best of which is this particular rock formation by the sea:

Beautiful, isn’t it?

After passing the difficult path of the northern coast, the terrain becomes level by the time one reaches the western coast of Sabtang.  There, the road is closer to the sea and entire stretches of the road are lined with coconut trees.  Same as in the morning, we went straight to the farther destination of Nakanmuan, passing by Sumnanga.

The road to Sunmanga and Nakanmuan

Nakanmuan and Sumnanga basically have the same layout as Chavayan and Savidug.  The towns are elongated and the National Road either cuts through it or is adjacent to it.  The only difference is that Nakanmuan and Sumnanga are fishing villages and are much closer to the shore.  They are also a lot more populous than Chavayan and Savidug – closer to the population density of Centro.

Nakanmuan welcome arch
A traditional house in Nakanmuan

Nakanmuan is where Joaquin’s brother (the Sabtang Postmaster) resides, and I was thinking of staying here for the evening as daylight was close to fading already.  The village is populous enough for me to be able to observe how the people go about their daily lives.  All thoughts of this came crashing down however when I remembered that I already paid for my lodgings back in the Tourism office and, worse, I already made arrangements with the Elesterio canteen to cook lobster for my dinner.

A young girl with a deaf and partially-blind old lady in Nakanmuan

The western coast of Sabtang also also allows one to view two other islands of Batanes – Vujus and Dequey.  These two islands are uninhabited by people but can be visited as they are relatively close.  Joaquin told me that the sizable island of Ivujus is used by cattle ranchers as a communal pastureland.  They bring in cows through ships and basically set them free there to graze, and only coming back at certain days of the year when they need to take some for slaughtering.

A fisherman in Nakanmuan

Unfortunately, daylight was fading fast and any prospect of watching the sunset at Nakanmuan was dashed by the realization that I really haven’t even visited Sumnanga, and the fact that stretches of the National Road between the towns had absolutely no streetlamps – which makes the possibility of the multicab falling off a cliff on the way back very much possible.  So we started on our ride back to Centro passing through Sumnanga.

Along the way, the driver probably remembered that we had difficulty (and in fact were not able to) buy cold softdrinks in Nakanmuan so he stopped by the roadside and chopped off two coconuts from a roadside tree.  Later on, when we reached Sumnanga, he prepared two of these coconuts for us to drink from.  Initially was hesitant when I saw the bolo used in chopping off the skin of the coconut because it looked dirty and rusty.  However, the act of chopping off the tough skin actually cleaned the blade so that by the time a hole was already made from the coconut, the blade’s edge was like new.

After having a much needed drink and exchanging pleasantries with the villagefolk in Sumnanga (who turned out to be friends and family of our multicab driver) we worked on our way back to Centro.  It seems like our driver was conscious of the rapidly-fading daylight so he drove the multicab faster and we had a few scary moments where it seems like he was driving straight for a cliff, only to turn at the last moment.  Along the way, we saw came across the sorry remains of a bayawak that got run over by a vehicle (not ours).

It was already dark when we reached Centro. Upon paying our driver, we went straight for the Elesterio canteen for our dinner.  Erwin was already waiting there and he apparently also ordered lobster.  So here’s what we ended up eating:

Batanes-style adobo, locally called “Lunyis”
The ubiquitous Yellow Rice
Seaweed with calamansi
And of course, Lobster

All these, plus the Dalagang Bukid (which I did not take a photo of) were good for 2-3 people and only cost a mind-boggling P300.  Joaquin and I had difficulty finishing the food, but Erwin (who ordered the same set) somehow finished everything on his end all by his lonesome.  We ended the night by exchanging stories with Erwin – who is a very funny guy – and Mr. and Mrs. Elesterio, who probably witnessed a lot of nights like these and probably have met every single traveler in Sabtang.

At some point in the day, my phone went dead so I worried a bit as to whether people have been trying to contact me.  This worrying period lasted for about 5 minutes before sleep overtook me back in the rented room at the Municipal Tourism Office.



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