Our decision to go back to Batanes was mostly driven by a tempting seat sale by Philippine Airlines earlier in the year. I did not realize until today, a few hours before I go back to life and adulting, that I badly needed that time to disconnect from the rest of the world.
2017 has been a year loaded with changes – mostly unplanned and unwelcome; both at home and at work. Going to a place that is seemingly frozen in time is somehow comforting after all that.
Since our last visit, things have remained almost exactly the same in Batanes. There are more concrete roads according to our tour guide but those are things that are not even noticeable. What I did notice right away was from snail-paced, internet is now non-existent on most parts of the island. The locals said it was because of a storm that ravaged the land from a year back. Nobody seemed to bother to fix the data centers that were destroyed nor did the 17,000+ residents care that they could not participate in the toxic social media that most of us could not part with.
A friend mentioned the lack of wellness centers in Batanes. I think it just offers a different type of cleansing. Once you get over the initial withdrawal from not knowing everything that is going on, you get to appreciate not hearing about how the world seems to willingly let maniacal leaders run our lives and our future into the ground. There is something reassuring about being in a place where people still go out of their way to be nice, where everyone seems to be taking their time, and where people still value their culture and respect the earth around them.
Surrounded by breathtaking mountain ranges and the temperamental Pacific, the beauty of Batanes is hard to rival. There is a hotel, however, that perfectly compliments it. Fundacion Pacita, the refurbished home and studio of renowned artist Pacita Abad, now serves as a loving memorial to her art and legacy. Patterned over traditional Ivatan stone houses, Fundacion Pacita sits on a picturesque garden on top of a hill offering a perfect symphony of art and nature.
Imagine waking up to a view of the Pacific Ocean, or bathing in the morning sun on a bedroom veranda lulled by the wind and the soothing sound of the sea. An attraction on its own, Fundacion Pacita is a must experience for any traveler.
Of course, Batanes has so much more to offer – rolling hills that go on for miles, iconic lighthouses, fish-ports, white sand beaches, and the bluest ocean this side of the archipelago. Beyond the postcard-worthy scenery, Batanes also offers a glimpse at people that remain content with their way of life. In this day and age, I think that is the hardest to come by.
All images © 2017 Dale Bacar