It was from Crim that I first learned about Batanes, it was way back in college. I've heard of the place prior to that, but because she's an Ivatan and a close friend, the urge to know her roots and to actually experience the place was further intensified. She would always tell me stories about her hometown and how beautiful it is. She would tell me about her house and its proximity to her school and the park and I would only imagine them. A few years forward...I could not believe I was making this imagination into a reality.
Appreciating how beautiful Batanes is...I owe it to Ferdz and his blog. My fondness for the place grew deeper because of the tons of photos he took after his several visits and how he described them. His blog has became my "guide book" in exploring Batanes. It's like saying, "Everything I knew about Batanes I learned from Ferdz!" hehe.
So after five days...I was able to experience beautiful Batanes, finally.
I will be posting a series of entries starting with our flight and our arrival.
There were six of us. Deb, Etch and I were the first batch to check in. We were too early since the lady at the counter was still attending to the passengers going to Caticlan (excited masyado, hehe!). Nonetheless, she accommodated us. I was hoping not to check in my tripod but the guy who was taking our backpacks said it 's not an option. (Baka daw kase gawing armas para makapanakit, nu ba yan.)
Our flight is at 8:20 AM but way before our boarding, I already spotted the 30-seater SeaAir aircraft that would take us to Basco, Batanes. "Hmmm, looks promising!" I told myself. I have my own reservations about small aircrafts. I am not scared to die, but I am scared dying while in a plane.
Since we made an early check-in, we had the time to eat breakfast. Etch was thinking what SeaAir would be serving us. We were thinking of coffee and bread or way better since we paid so much for the tickets (much expensive than going to any SE Asian country). But instead, the flight attendant served us 4 pieces of Hi-Ho Nuts and a bottled water. Good thing we ate breakfast prior to our flight. I liked the Hi-Ho (garlic) though. Much better than Nagaraya (I think).
The whole trip was okay (except for a few air pockets that made my stomach churned). We had an amazing pilot, he's Korean or Chinese or Taiwanese. I took a stolen shot, Etch was teasing me.
Arriving at the airport, we were greeted by the beautiful view of Mount Iraya, a heavily forrested stratovolcano which is an important landmark for the Ivatans. And like any important marker, this too is loaded with stories and legends. Considered as a minor climb, Mount Iraya can be hiked 3-4 hours to the summit.
We were all excited to start our adventure in Batanes. Immediately, we proceeded at the arrival area to meet the people from DDD Habitat, our official residence in Basco, Batanes.
All tourists are required to register at IDJANG which means Ivatan Desk for Joint Action Network of Guides. They'll get basic information from each tourist visiting Batanes including contact numbers and emails.
While my companions were signing in, my eyes feasted over the photo exhibit of Mannie Barradas showcasing his captivating and amazing shots of the Islands. I got a bit carried away by the images that I didn't notice my friends already leaving the area. They were at the pickup point.
It was here that the staff from DDD Habitat picked us up. There were more photos exhibited at the waiting area.
My supervisor and I were interviewing applicants for the writer position and one of them, looking very corporate and preppy said, "Can I ask about the salary?". I had a hint that she's going to ask about it. Most "experienced" applicants reserve such question in the end. We told her about the starting salaries for writer and noticed by her facial expression that she wasn't quite happy about it. "I was hoping for 18K to 20K po sana since my current salary is 18K yun nga lang po graveyard shift kaya gusto ko mag-resign." This conversation reminded me of a previous applicant who just recently resigned. The same issue, same reason. I don't think we will be seeing her soon.