Tuesday, March 20, 2012

The land of LOST

I have been on a mission lately. If you have been reading this blog, I have mentioned earlier about having a BUCKET LIST. Maybe since I was turning a year older this month, (and that # is quite big.... a turning point in one's life..) that I have resolved to make most of my time... yehah! no more dilly dallying.

Learn. Explore. Live.

One of the things we have eyeing to do is the MANDY NAVASARO PHOTO SAFARI in Batanes Island. It teaches photography while letting you explore the unexplored part of the Philippines.

Batanes is the northern most part of the country. Its farthest island is Itbayat, which is actually nearer to Taiwan than the Philippines (190 kms to Taiwan, while it's 290km to the nearest Luzon island).. they can actually see the lights and cars of Taiwan.


We were scheduled to fly at 6am using a small (32 seater, propeller) airplane. Honestly, I haven't tried flying on a small plane for... 25 years??? and haven't been to the domestic airport since,..... I can't remember. So, I was very nervous at the state of our domestic flight

Guess what. The domestic airport was better than expected. It was refurbished and spiffed up quite well. It even had a french style coffee corner ...(fresh espresso and cappuccino at 5am!!!)

starting sunrise over the clouds
I had a nice seat at the back near the propellers and even got a chance to take some sunrise pics... (didn't get any sleep.. too excited to see the islands).

the view was amazing.

I was thinking it was  a preview of what we had in store for us in the 4 day trip...

actually had a sense of how amazing God's creation was. It is rare that we see this view in the city. (well, maybe in postcards)...LOL

finally, after an hour or so... we were greeted with  something out of Fantasy Island....

can i say??? WATTA VIEW!!!

I was imagining Tatoo ( the sidekick in Fantasy Island) shouting below... "zeee plane. zee plane!!!".. which was plausible since there was only ONE flight coming in everyday to the island ( with only 32 passengers max). There were no clusters of house, nor sighting of tall buildings... only green everywhere with spattering of small houses and boats. Coming in, you might catch a glimpse of cows grazing on some of the hills or some huge wave crashing into a cliff.....

Mandy, our host, was a mature woman who had been (once in her life) -- a stewardess, a PR exec, and banking executive. She has since graduated to teaching photography, PR work and writing for a local newspaper. One of her quotable quotes are:

"Photography has no retirement...that's why I am still around".... which is quite true when you see her. She is like a quirky aunt you have and just happen to visit one weekend. Never a dull moment.

She even had to try to make a pass at one of the doctors we had in the group ( a young, slim and cute one). In explaining the course during breakfast, she indicated that we had to pose as "models" for our photography lessons. Turning to the doctor, she said nonchantly... "Doc, you have to pose with your shirt off..." THAT just made me chuckle.

Arriving at my usual wake up hour of 7:30am, we proceeded to the hotel to freshen up and get some breakfast. (consisting of native flying fish, tomato salsa, rice and egg.. yumm).

We had the briefing and then proceeded to our stop at the japanese tunnel. On the way, we had a photo shoot at one bent of the road, teaching us angles

We then were led to the entrance of an old japanese tunnel. where we traversed darkness (If they told me, I could have brought a flashlight).. the walls were damp and it was hard going in the dark especailly when we reached a 90 degree drop.

and eventually exited through a clearing.

the exit of the japanese tunnel
One thing about Batanes is, there a lots of cows and carabaos (water buffalo) and as expected, you get your hefty share of humongous POOP.

We hiked up a hill to reach the top to get our lesson in posing and I think, how to position your subject, which in this case is, most of the participants in the photo safari.

posing. posing. shoot.

This was our first taste of the views ( which in the next few days will get better and better)

the view from the hill....

the walk to the top of the hill

cows gone to pasture
The few days we were there, it was balmy, drizzling and cold. I could have wished we had better weather. It kind of reminded me of London, or the rolling hills of Scotland. At least I got some nice shots (however overcast it was)

coconut, sweet potato, tomatoes, fried fish
It was already noon and we were just getting started. After posing and taking pictures of the surrounding landscape, we proceeded to boulder beach where we would get our snack (fish, sweet potato and coconut) One of the things you realize, taking picture is time consuming and you wont eat on time... most of the time! The sweet potato WILL tide you over.

 I loved boulder beach. And when you see the picture, you'll understand why its called boulder beach.....

saw this guy gathering something.. maybe shells?

It was amazing to see all these huge boulders. The native IVATANS (those living in Batanes) use them to build their houses. These are necessary because of all the typhoons that come our way every year and they usually enter the Philippines  through Batanes.

I think I'll reserve the second half of the post for the next time... If you want more information on Batanes, one of our group (Ferdie Bondoy) is a regular blogger. He wrote a post too.. see HERE. I think he has better work ethic than me because he regularly blogs (everyday and sometimes 2 posts a day) WOW. check out his site.

So, I still have more stories to share.. just bear with me. I still have a day job you know....



  1. Sana we can travel together one of these days =)

  2. Thanks for the mention Melds! :) Nice post and pics! :) I want to go back to Batanes!



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