“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” ~ Mark Twain
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02 May 2009

Basco's Casa Napoli


Anybody who is new to Batanes, a pizzeria is a rare find. One would not expect a fine pizza parlor that serves pizza (of course) with real mozzarella cheese. We are just lucky to know locals who are familiar and frequent Casa Napoli.Casa Napoli is located along Abad Street in Basco and is actually a residence converted into a pizzeria by its owner and chef Javier, who used to work in a ship.

The place literally offers a colorful ambiance that will enliven your damp spirit and rejuvenates your tired body after a day’s work or a trip to Batanes’ scenic spots because of its colorful interiors—not to mention, of course, the sumptuous and mouth watering pizza they offer at a very reasonable prize--and one that is comparable to some popular pizza in Manila.

If you happen to plan to go to Batanes. Do not miss this pizzeria. Do not worry about being lost. Just ask around. In Basco, Batanes, everyone knows everybody. And here is the best thing about roaming around in Basco, Batanes—everything is in walking distance. No kid!

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Ivana's Honesty

BatanesD 071

Written on a small white board, the house rules say:

  1. Self-service po lamang. (Self-service only.)
  2. Get what you need.
  3. Please pay [for] whatever you get.
  4. If you have no change, please knock at the next door. If no one answers, sorry. So you give more than the price. Salamat po (Thank you) and may your tribe increase.
  5. Remember, honesty is the best policy.
  6. Thank you and have a happy day!

Honesty Coffee Shop is located in Ivana, the third town from Basco, Batanes. It does not have a store clerk to attend to your needs. It does not have a spy camera or a CCTV to watch you cheat. But all in the name of honesty, which is home-grown in Batanes, you can buy candies, biscuits or drink coffee.

Looks cool! Right? What if this coffee shop is located in the metropolis? Would you think it will survive from the hands of crooks? I do not think so.

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Basic courtesy reminders for an "Ipula"

Basco Still Life

“Ipula” is a term used by Ivatans for someone who is not a native of Batanes. They would know if you are an Ipula or not, simply because you are a new face, and you do not speak their dialect.

Ivatans are naturally courteous people. It is very heartwarming to know that the basic virtues taught by our grandparents and our parents still thrive in Batanes. Why not? Perhaps we can attribute it to the fact that they are an island and rarely do we, Ipulas, have the chance to intrude in their culture and tradition. It is because we feared Batanes for its strong typhoons. Add to it the fact that transportation then was not that reliable.

Because of the extreme weather that Batanes is known for, it is only in the past two decades that Batanes has been fully explored as an alternative tourist destination.

For those who fear Batanes’ extreme weather, it is good to note that you no longer have to fear being stranded—at least for now, because the strong typhoons has not passed through Batanes for the past 20 years. If you want to have an idea what a strong typhoon in Batanes is, it is very much much like typhoon Milenyo in 2006—only a little stronger, according to Mang Nards who drove us around.

So here are some reminders for Batanes wannabe explorers:

  • Everyone calls the elders “uncle” or “auntie” which is a form of endearment and a sign of respect—very much like “tito” and “tita”.
  • When you are invited into a household, or introduced to an elderly, do not forget to “kiss the hands” of he elders, by doing the traditional “Mano po”
  • Whenever you meet someone along the street, make sure you have that ready smile and say “Magandang umaga/ hapon po!” (Good morning/ afternoon!), or just simply say “Hello!” (and do not misinterpret it that the stranger who said "hi" or "hello" has the hots for you!)
  • When taking photos of people, just ask for their permission, and they will oblige. Thank them afterward.

Let us help them preserve their culture. It does not hurt much if we say a simple “Hello!” One thing that makes me feel good is their courtesy.

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Windows of Batanes

Windows of Batanes

Aside from the colorful, but otherwise monotonous blue paint of windows in almost every house, I find the windows of Batanes houses brimming with character. The reason for blue colored windows (they have a penchant for blue color) is the color being attributed to the color of the sea. True enough, Ivatans have a daily commune with the sea, not mentioning its mountains and rolling hills of greenery. The way the windows were built also serves a very practical reason. They are built receding a few inches from the outer wall (like an awning) which would prevent strong winds during typhoon to ram through the windows.

The windows of Batanes houses speak about one’s socio-economic status. There are windows that have gone through tough and rough times and everything that one person can see from within or from outside only resides in the deep recesses of memories, if there is one at all.

There are some that looks drab, but one can never be bereft of something that mesmerizes the tired senses. Others are simply beautiful in their own way and some continue to exude beauty and unfazed by life’s difficulties.

Windows allows you to see from within, and discover the beauty beyond and communicate with the outside world.

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01 May 2009

Pristine Selinog

Pristine Selinog Island

One of the perks of being in development work is the chance to move around the country. For the past 11 years, I have been going in and out of Mindanao, particularly Davao, Zamboanga Peninsula, CDO, etc. I only regret now that I have not blogged about them earlier. This includes the pristine and beautiful Selinog Island, off the coast of Dapitan.

It was just a photo, and my friends were immediately captivated by its rustic beauty. Although I have not been to many beaches in the country, I would say that, Selinog Island, is one of the the best. Going here takes a full two (2) hours from Dapitan City via a 4-tonner boat (which is huge, and it is advisable that you hire a big boat for a trip to the island).

The small community lives on fishing, some crops, sari-sari store, and salt-making, which happens to be one of the alternative livelihood projects under the "Zamboanga Peninsula Upland, Lowland and Coastal Resources Management Program" that I handled some years back. The salt-making projects was managed by a local fisherfolk association and supervised by the City Agriculture Office of Dapitan City.

The downside, however, is that the island does not have fresh water and the community depends only on rainwater. During the summer months, they have to fetch water either from Dapitan City or the nearby Apo Island in Negros Oriental.

I regret that I do not have plenty of photos to share since I did not have a personal camera then. Nonetheless, I am sharing a few.

Selinog Is. Light House

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