Batanes is the northernmost part and the smallest island of the Philippines. Despite being the smallest island, it boasts a lot of breathtaking views and fascinating culture and traditions.
Interesting Facts about Batanes
My friends and I visited Batanes last February 2020. We stayed on the island for 4 days. During our stay, we were able to communicate with locals and got to know more about the island. With that, I listed down some interesting facts about Batanes that you might have not known yet!
The Ivatans have preserved one of the core values of the Filipino people.
Gone are the days when my elementary school teacher used to tackle the Philippine culture and tradition during our Hekasi subject. It was an afternoon session; I was sitting on a chair while listening to my elementary teacher. He was talking about one of the most common values of the Filipino people – Bayanihan.
During our elementary days, our Hekasi teacher would always show us a picture of a group of people carrying a huge nipa hut or “bahay kubo” (the traditional Filipino house); in which this group of people is helping one another to move from one place to another. That is how our teacher would always explain what Bayanihan is. Whenever I see that picture, the word “Bayanihan” would always come into mind. That picture has been called “the community spirit”. With that being said, this is the pride of being a Filipino; our common trait of being “matulungin” or “helpful”. Bayanihan has been one of the most important values in the Philippines especially during the olden times.
You may also read: DIY Travel Guide to Batanes
On the other hand, as time passes by, our environment changes, so our beliefs and culture. As the years go by, advanced technology is developed which makes us change in terms of attitude and values. It’s a sad reality, actually. It feels like our changing times make us forget what we were in the past. Bayanihan is one of the core essences of being a Filipino which I think is gradually diminishing.
But what’s so surprising? In this world full of advanced technology and such, Ivatans have maintained the value of “Bayanihan”; of being a true Filipino. Our tour guide in Batanes has told us that up until now Ivatans have still got the Bayanihan trait on the island. For instance, if they found out that someone is trying to fix their house, some people in the community would try to help that person without expecting anything in return. Anyone who needs help, people would always be willing to help. Ivatans never forget the value of helping each other.
Kalusan is also being preserved by the Ivatans.
Have you heard of the word kalusan? Kalusan is an old working song that was sung by field workers during the olden times. It is an ancient song. Kalusan is sung by workers while working. The locals sing kalusan in order to lessen the hard work that the workers do.
It is so amazing that Ivatans still value the ancient culture and tradition despite the changing trends and the world.
You can’t simply buy a property or land in Batanes.
The moment my friends and I have set foot on the island of Batanes, we have already fallen in love with it! It has been our dream to visit one of the stunning islands in the country. I had first known about the beauty of Batanes when I watched it on TV and ever since that day, I dreamed of visiting the island one day.
While touring around the island, my friends and I jokingly told each other that we must buy a property here someday. However, that is impossible unless you marry an Ivatan. You can never buy land in Batanes. Yes, that’s a fact. We have asked about it from the locals many times. Even our tour guide said so. In addition to that, I heard that the San Miguel Corporation had tried buying a portion of the rolling hills in Batanes. But the Batanes government didn’t let him purchase any property on the island. Hands down and big respect to the government officials in Batanes!
There are “blow ur horn” signs everywhere.
The significance of the “blow ur horn” sign is very noticeable on every part of the island. Batanes is known to have many sharp curve roads. For this reason, motorists are strictly encouraged to blow their horns when driving around the island.
Vakul symbolizes the Ivatan culture and tradition.
Vakul is a headdress worn by women in Batanes. It is made from abaca fiber of the voyavoy palm (the Philippine palm). In addition, vakul is a traditional headdress used to protect the Ivatans from sun rays. More to that, vakul is also waterproof which can also be used during rainy days. It helps protect the Ivatans from rain as well.
The Ivatans are still wearing vakul up to now and still keeping their old tradition of farming. Actually, vakul is a headdress made for women while kanayi is a vest made for men. These two traditional gears symbolize the culture and tradition of the Ivatans. Vakul and Kanayi also represent the Ivatan people being one of the most-hardworking indigenous people in the country.
If you want to know more about this traditional dress, you may attend the Vakul-Kanayi Festival being held in the month of April. It is an entertaining festival usually held on the island of Sabtang.
The Ghost Barangay
As we were about to finish our South tour in Batan, we stopped over for a while beside the highway to see the overlooking view of the Song Song Ruins. Song Song Ruins or also called as “The Ghost Barangay” is actually part of the South tour.
I’ve never heard of this “ghost place” in Batanes until our tour guide told us the story about it. This could be one of the most underrated stories that you might hear about Batanes. As you take a look at the place, it is obviously abandoned. You may only see the ruins of the old stone houses nearby the shore.
According to our tour guide, the Song Song Ruins was actually the outcome a tragedy happened in the 1950s. The town was hit by the huge tidal wave which caused the town to be that way. The good thing was, no one was hurt during the calamity. It is because the Ivatans had predicted the tsunami probably days before it happened. Our tour guide told us that the Ivatan had just followed the animals’ movements and decided to evacuate to higher places right away. Wow!
Batanes island may be the smallest island in the country. But it doesn’t mean that there is nothing interesting about the island. In fact, these five interesting facts I wrote about Batanes are not enough to share with you how rich Batanes is! If you do know some facts about Batanes island, feel free to share them with me.
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