Batanes Day 3: Back to Batan (part 2) – 12/10/09

view on the road towards Uyugan from Mahatao

It was a long drive going towards the southernmost municipality of Uyugan.  It seemed as if this route only got as much as 5% of the vehicle volume of the much more frequently used western stretch of the National Road in Batan.  This area is sparsely populated as there are no villages/baranggays on sight.  The nearest baranggay is in Imnajbu, and even that is sparsely populated itself.

Along the way, we passed by the site of a former U.S. Coast Guard station named LORAN (Long Range Aid to Navigation).  The buildings have since been abandoned after the Americans left this station in the 1970s, and the land that it stands on now belongs to the Municipality of Uyugan.  According to Joaquin, this used to be the only place in Batanes with a functional cinema, and people from as far away as Basco used to walk all the way here just to watch a movie.  (Interestingly, at present, there are no cinemas anywhere in Batanes.)

marker in Imnajbu where the first mass was held

It was around 3 pm when we reached the sleepy baranggay of Imnajbu.  Imnajbu is the site in Batanes where the first Catholic mass was held.  An enormous cross marks the spot where this bit of history occurred, and it’s right next to a chapel dedicated to San Lorenzo Ruiz.  The chapel was initially closed when I was there so I just took pictures of the exterior of the Chapel.  Later on however, an old man reeking of gin, whom we saw on the roadside on the way here, actually took out keys from his pocket and opened the front doors of the chapel (He was apparently the chapel caretaker) inviting us in.  We gladly obliged.

road scene between Imnajbu and Itbud

The next baranggay on the route is Itbud.  Nothing much notable about Itbud except for its church named Nuestra Señora de la Medalla Milagrosa that attracts large crowds during its fiesta.  It’s a new (unfinished) structure built only around 2005 or 2006 replacing an older smaller church.  The new structure was specially designed to accommodate a larger number of churchgoers.

the facade of the Nuestra Señora de la Medalla Milagrosa

From there, it was a quick trip towards Uyugan town proper.  Along the way, we passed by the ruins of the Songsong.  Songsong used to be a coastal village that was destroyed by a tsunami in the 1950s.  Rather than rebuild the entire village, the villagers just abandoned the site and settled in the nearby towns of Uyugan and Itbud.  I wanted to go near the ruins but since we wanted to reach Basco before dark, I only was able to view the ruins from a distance.

site of the Songsong ruins
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Uyugan town marker

The Uyugan town proper is the site of another one of Batanes’ four 200 year old churches.  For some reason, the locals deemed it proper to paint the church pink, which rather clashes with its historical significance.  (The Church’s name is San Antonino de Florencia.)  In any case, since this is the town proper, it’s more populous and livelier than the two previous baranggays.  It was also around 4 pm when we reached this town so there were a lot of schoolchildren running around the streets.

facade of the San Antonino de Florencia church

Uyugan town proper is at the southernmost point of Batan Island.  From there, we travel north via the National Road towards Basco, passing by the town of Ivana and the western part of Mahatao.  As I intended to visit Ivana on my own the next day, we did not linger on these towns for more that five minutes each.  I just asked Joaquin to pass by the the places of interest so that I know where these would be.

It’s easy in Ivana, all places of interest are right alongside the National Road – the cemetery, the church, the Honesty Coffeeshop, the House of Dakay, etc.  In Mahatao, it’s a bit more difficult because while Ivana can be likened to a long strip, Mahatao has a rounder shape and has more of a grid layout.  Anyway, after looking around, we made our way back to Basco in the rapidly fading daylight.

the South China Sea as seen from the Chanarian Cliffs viewdeck

At around 5:30 pm, we reached the Chanarian Clifs viewdeck where Joaquin and I observed the sunset.  After a few minutes, we decided to continue towards Basco because I suddenly remembered that the National Road has no streetlights and it would be dangerous to travel by motorcycle at night.

It was already dark when we reached Basco.  We stopped in front of Shanedel’s because fellow travelers Eunice and Lorraine were seated there just hanging around with their tricycle driver.  We again “compared notes” on the places we visited and resolved to meet again later in the evening to have a few rounds of drinks.  I invited Erwin to join us that evening but unfortunately, he was too tired.

with Eunice and Lorraine at the DDD roofdeck

We had our inuman at the roofdeck of DDD Habitat (where I was staying).  I brought the beer, and Eunice and Lorraine bought the pulutan.  It was the best place to drink because it overlooked a sizable part of Basco, and the wind was cool and fresh.  (Well, a lot more colder than cool, but we had jackets so that’s okay.)  I gave the two some pointers on Sabtang, as they intended to go there the following day.  It was also for this reason that they could not stay long that evening, as they still had to wake up just in time for the 5:30 am jeepney trip going to the port at San Vicente.

I gave both of them my remaining supply of ziplock plastic bags, as well as a large trashbag each to wrap their stuff in in anticipation of a rough boat ride going ot Sabtang.  As I walked them all the way back to Shanedel’s everybody seemed to be too eager to great us – possibly because of the presence of blonde Lorraine.

So Day 3 was finally over, and the one following would be my final full day in Batanes.  I hope my legs would be up to the job as I intended to ride a bicycle all the way to Ivana, and back.



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