Batanes · Philippines · Travel Tales

Batanes after a storm, and some musings on traveling

It was three in the morning. Power was out, and the air inside our room was getting suffocating. I, however, dared not open the window. I’d been up awake for more than a couple of hours, watching the branches of a mango tree in the yard get whipped in all directions by Typhoon Noul/Dodong’s signal no. 4 winds.

Whether in Batanes or in Manila, I have a hard time sleeping through a storm. I am a light sleeper in general — water slowly dripping into my bedroom can actually wake me. Add to this the fact that previous encounters with storms had been slightly traumatic. In Batanes, I took a slight comfort in the fact that I believed the Ivatans know best how to build houses. It may have been that thought that eventually brought me back to Dreamland, until the rain stopped pouring for good.

In the afternoon of May 11, I left our guesthouse alone and ventured to the center of Basco on foot. Basco has a layout that makes it quite easy to navigate. People are friendly, except for the stranger who will creepily tell you “I love you” and prove that catcalling is well and alive in every part of the Philippines.

In truth, the storm was actually welcomed by Batanes and other provinces in Luzon after a prolonged dry period. People were calmly cleaning up the streets of leaves and fallen branches. I walked toward the shore near the town plaza and found that the waves were still very strong.

Statue of Kenan Aman Dangat, the datu when the Spanish government was established in Batanes in 1783. He led the rebellion of his people.
Statue of Kenan Aman Dangat, the datu when the Spanish government was established in Batanes in 1783. He led the rebellion of his people.

I walked around the plaza, and I was also able to drop by the Yaru Gallery and Art Shop of the Yaru nu Artes Ivatan, an artists’ association. They painted the ceiling of Mt. Carmel Chapel.

DSC_8041

DSC_8042

*

We had a whole day to kill the next day. I wanted to go to my favorite places in Batan Island, so we hired a tricycle to go to Marlboro Hills and Vayang Rolling Hills.

It was a pleasantly sunny day; save for the occasional destroyed banana tree, nothing seemed to indicate that there had been a storm a couple of nights before.

Husband and I were alone in Marlboro Hills. We could have egg-rolled downhill if we wanted to.

DSC_8000

Marlboro Hills definitely looked like a Windows wallpaper that day.
Marlboro Hills definitely looked like a Windows wallpaper that day.

We headed to Vayang Rolling Hills next. Again, we were alone for a long while.

Our lone red tricycle in the middle of different shades of green
Our lone red tricycle in the middle of different shades of green
Vayang Rolling Hills early in the afternoon
Vayang Rolling Hills early in the afternoon. Look closely and you’ll see traces of the recent typhoon.

DSC_8036

For sure, it all got me wondering if and when I was ever going to see Batanes again. I tried memorizing what I was seeing, hearing and breathing — the fresh, grassy air, for instance, and how there was no sound save for our voices and the breeze going past my ears, and how the rolling hills looked like green and brown waves leading to the actual sea in the bluest of blues — though I knew doing so was futile. We were going back to the city and leaving behind a province we fell in love with in only a matter of days.

As it often happens when I recall a place I’d gone to, I recall a quote in Les Miserables on the loneliness of traveling: “What is more melancholy and more profound than to see a thousand objects for the first and the last time? To travel is to be born and to die at every instant.” I went to Batanes to see a thousand objects, and till I come back (if ever I do), I have a few pixels artfully arranged on my computer to look at: the most beautiful pictures, but mere shadows of the actual things. I will continue on to the next destination — literal or metaphorical — and the next, and the next, till I am sans everything.

This brings me to a thought: if traveling is to be born and to die at every instant, why, how many lives have I lived?

DSC_7993

Related articles

Advertisements

3 thoughts on “Batanes after a storm, and some musings on traveling

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s