Batanes · Philippines · Travel Tales

A Tour of South Batan, Part 1: Mahatao

Unlike the previous two days, when the sky had been as blue as any Philippine summer sky could be, our third day in Batanes foreboded rain. Signal no. 2 had been forecast the day before as typhoon Noul/Dodong was about to make landfall in northeastern Luzon. It was quite the perfect day, though, for touring: the overcast sky provided us cover as we went around the southern portion of Batan Island.

Our first few destinations were all in the town of Mahatao. We began at the Chawa View Deck, which has a winding staircase leading down to rock formations that looked perilously too close to the sea. It overlooks the West Philippine Sea. I snacked on taho here (P20 for a small cup).

Chawa View Deck
Chawa View Deck

There’s a nice view of the Boat Shelter Port on the road above it. This is where boats are docked in the event of a typhoon. Indeed, it was slowly filling up with boats preparing for a strong typhoon.

Mahatao Boat Shelter Port
Mahatao Boat Shelter Port

Next, we went to the Tayid Lighthouse, which is quite unique for its hexagonal tower.

Cows razing by the Tayid Lighthouse
Cows grazing by the Tayid Lighthouse in Mahatao

This lighthouse was built in the early 2000s and is still functioning.

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We headed next to the town proper of Mahatao, the center of which is, of course, the church. It has a very interesting ceiling:

San Carlos Borromeo Church
San Carlos Borromeo Church in Mahatao.

I spent a few inspired minutes writing in the nearby Blank Book Archive.

Blank Book Archive
Blank Book Archive

It is a room with shelves of books with blank pages, and anyone who happens to visit may choose a book at random and write on it. If you want, you can also just read whatever is in there, which are mostly words by travelers who have been captivated by Batanes.

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We had a good meal at Paulvana’s Canteen, a restaurant near the church. Here, we tasted vunes, a vegetable viand made of dried gabi. We even took with us their tasty camote fries, which were just the right amount of sweet.

Our next destination was the famed Marlboro Hills. Its proper name is Racuh a Payaman. According to locals, it got its moniker when the Ivatans saw those old Marlboro commercials in the ’80s and thought that the hills there looked like the ones here in Batanes.

Racuh a Payaman
Racuh a Payaman

It was high noon and really windy when we got there. We stood on Marlboro Hills’ verdant hills, the wind whipping around our clothes that we felt like we were teetering on our feet all the time, as we took in the views of the Pacific Ocean, the cloud-covered Mt. Iraya, and the rest of Batan Island’s eastern coast.

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Batanes just kept on taking my breath away with its beauty.  It had been a while since I last felt like being under such a neverending expanse of land and sea and sky.

Climb every mountain -- er, hill. See the Tayid Lighthouse in the background.

Climb every mountain — er, hill. See the Tayid Lighthouse in the background.

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6 thoughts on “A Tour of South Batan, Part 1: Mahatao

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