Thursday, November 29, 2007

Remembering Batanes

Seeing the Inquirer 2BU's feature on Batanes (and Jill's fantastic pics) reminded me of my two trips there several years ago. Back then there were no direct flights from Manila to Basco. One had to go to Laoag and fly from there. They didn't sell two-way tickets, for the weather was so unpredictable. On one of our trips back we flew out to Tuguegarao on a cargo plane. The pilot went about town inquiring about passengers who wanted to head out. The flight was scheduled like it was a jeepney trip, arranged almost at the passengers' convenience. (That is to say, the schedule was alas-puno.) There were no seats on the cargo plane - we had to find what little space there was behind the cockpit (I could have easily tickled the pilot's ear had I felt like it), or else sit on Monobloc chairs. I remember I stood and walked about for a good portion of the trip.

I dug up my travel journal and found this entry. I should go back there sometime soon...

Mooning Over Monsoon Country
Batanes Resort, Basco, Batanes.
9:55 p.m.

In about two hours, all lights will go out in the entire island. I shan’t be hearing anything other than the crashing waves outside. Tomorrow I shall rise a half-hour before daybreak, to witness morning light shining upon vast grasslands bound by this angry shore. I sleep and I rise amidst an unspeakably beautiful seascape.

This is monsoon country… is it small wonder that my thoughts now turn to water?

This afternoon I noticed glints of silver along the waters, near the horizon. It was like a cascade of stars tumbling along the water’s folds. Along the shore the continuous flow and ebb of the tides created a calming rhythm. As the waves beat against the sand, a narrow strip of aqua blue appeared and disappeared, distinct against the cobalt blue covering the most part of the sea.

Two days ago, as we approached Chavayan Village in the pouring rain, we saw curtains of rain from the Pacific approaching the coastline, towards the village. It was as if sheets of icicles were being dropped from overhead. Near the coast the water changed to aqua blue as the waves crashed on the shore. The rest of the Pacific was a deep, deep sparkly blue.

I had dreaded the 30-minute boat ride to Sabtang the day before we went, being the aquaphobic coward that I am (well, who wouldn’t be if you didn’t know how to swim?). But when we finally were crossing the South China Sea, I became somewhat mesmerized by the deep blue color that stretched out before and around us. We rode the waves to get to Sabtang. At times the tide would swell, and if one looked to the right, one could see the water level rising higher than the boat’s hull. It was a curious sensation, feeling as if any minute one could easily be engulfed in those deep blue folds of the sea. It would be frightening for a split-second, and then utterly beautiful, the thought of being enfolded in that vast blanket of blue. Mighty curious, how I react to bodies of water. I fear being in it yet there’s something about it that draws me again and again. I love photographing the waters. I love staring at seascapes.

On the way back to Batan I sat atop the motor box the whole time, elevated so as to have a full view of the bow and the approaching island, and to feel the wind against my face. I rode the waves for a half hour and revelled in it.

[The individual pics in the collage above can be viewed better here.]

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