After receiving a tip from my sister of a promo fare by Skyjet Airlines, I immediately booked a flight to Basco, the capital and center of commerce of the province. Being hosted by my sister and her husband, who's an Ivatan (native of Batanes), was a big blessing. My brother-in-law took us to a tour of North and South Batan as well as Sabtang Island where many of the old stonehouses can still be found.
For a brief description of the geography of Batanes, read this article by the Department of Tourism.
Without exaggeration, my four-day stay in Batanes gave me many jaw-dropping, awe-inspiring moments. Batanes reveals the beauty and might of God its Creator. Take a look at some of the pictures I took with my camera phone.
The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it,
the world, and all who live in it;
for he founded it on the seas and established it on the waters.
The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing. He makes me lie down
in green pastures... he refreshes my soul.
You will indeed go out with joy
and be peacefully guided;
the mountains and the hills will break into singing before you.
Come, let us sing for joy to the Lord;
let us shout aloud to the Rock of our salvation.
Send Your light and Your truth; let them lead me.
Unless the Lord builds the house,
the builders labor in vain.
Unless the Lord watches over the city,
the guards stand watch in vain.
The entire province of Batanes has been declared by the Philippine government as a Protected Landscape and Seascape. This means that Batanes is "an area of national significance which is characterized by the harmonious interaction of man and land while providing opportunities for public enjoyment through recreation and tourism within the normal lifestyle and economic activity of the area." (Source: Philippine Statistics Authority). Batanes is a beautiful, quiet place where people are courteous and friendly. Let us respect the Ivatans and care for their land whenever we have the opportunity to visit them.
Let's heed the plea of advocate for sustainable tourism development Nico Visser, "I count on you as ambassadors for sustainable tourism and as responsible individual tourists to give tourism and the destinations the future they deserve.” From a spiritual point of view, we human beings are appointed by God to be good stewards of this Earth which He created. Doing so will not only be for our good but more importantly for His glory.