Friday, April 27, 2012

Backpack Photography: Waking up in Itbayat, Sunsetting in Batan

Batanes - Itbayat Chinapoliran Waiting for the Boat
Waiting for the boat to come at Chinapoliran
The sun wasn't due to wake up in the next two hours when I rose up, wakened by the persistent buzz of my mobile phone's alarm.  With no sun to share the sky and the power not set to come back until 8am, the dark heavens were breathtaking and mesmerizing, lit by a millions stars with a sweeping view hands-down more panoramic than any planetarium's.  Getting up isn't easy when the cool air begs you to indulge in a few more hours of sleep but when you're confronted by such a grand view of creation and the thought of catching the sunrise on a mountain, the decision becomes a little easier to make.  To keep awake while waiting for the dump truck to arrive (and the engine to start in the cold air), we amused ourselves in trying to find where the Big Dipper is.
Batanes - Itbayat Karaboboan Viewdeck Sunrise III
A fern sunrise near the viewdeck at Mt. Karaboboan
Karaboboan calling.  Once again, we rode out in near complete darkness, the silence broken only by the engine noise especially when our dump truck struggled to negotiate a steep, rough path.  We passed through trees and rolling terrain after rolling terrain, some of which were slashed-and-burned for planting or simply to let the vegetation regenerate itself.   We're headed to a higher elevation to gain, hopefully, a better sunrise vantage point.  Mt. Karaboboan rises over 500 meters over the central part of northern Itbayat.

There's a wooden viewdeck in place usually used for sunset viewing as well as huts for resting.  The sea is visible to the east, reflecting the morning sun that also painted the undulating terrain with a pale golden hue.  We had our breakfast of fried fish and pork with rice wrapped in Kabaya leaf with the wonderful view setting the mood and ambiance right.  For a bit of kibitzing, we marveled over albino snails our local guide caught for later eating -- creatures as beautiful as their surroundings.
Batanes - Itbayat Albino Snail II
Edible albino snail our guide found in Karaboboan
Revisiting Pagganaman.  After coming back to pack our bags and say goodbye to Nanay Faustina, we had a small window to squeeze in one more stopover before we sail back to Batan.  We chose Pagganaman port, just 1.7 kms. away from Mayan town.  Pagganaman is used by local fishermen and is proximate to Chinapoliran where we will catch the Itransa boat after lunch time.

After a short hike on a steep path that goes down a cliff, we had glimpses of the Itbayat fishing life -- a small banca going out to sea, a lone swimmer perhaps spear-fishing near the shoreline, and a solitary man casting his line and luck from a coral outcropping, with the sea gleaming a deep blue under slightly overcast skies.
Batanes - Itbayat Chinapoliran Port Shed Waiting for our Boat Ride
Seeing water as far as the eyes can see
Praying for calm, wistful about leaving.  The previous day's pitching-and-rolling-out-at-sea episode seemed like a distant memory as we sat under the Chinapoliran shed, waiting for the Itransa boat from Basco to arrive.   It was sunny and the heat was starting to balance out the chill in the air. While having lunch (again packed in the familiar Kabaya leaves), we shared stories and assurances that the Almighty have heard our prayers and the sea will be less tempestuous this time around.  And when the boat did arrive, part of me regretted leaving so soon.  Ah, God-willing, I will revisit again and see the other parts we weren't able to visit like Rapang Cliff, maybe even hop to Siayan island.

The sea was so calm that afternoon that almost everyone on board was lulled to sleep.  In the rare moments we weren't asleep, we weren't able to spot dolphins or even flying fishes swimming near our boat but were surprisingly roused by excited shouts of the boat crew catching a marlin through one of two fishing lines customarily put out at the start of the trip.  The complete turnaround of the sea's and the weather's behavior from day to day speaks volume on who's really boss and how the Divine is really the ruler and master of our fate.  Perhaps, it's one of the sobering appeals of Batanes -- to be confronted by something so much bigger than yourself whether it be a staggeringly-beautiful rugged cliff, a vast rolling terrain or a wayward sea that you realize your size, your significance (or insignificance) in the grand scheme of things.
Batanes - Chadpidan Sunset Boulder Beach
The boulder beach of Chadpidan
Batanes - Diura Rock and Rocks IISunsetting in Chadpidan.  The good mood carried over to the rest of the afternoon as our group headed to Chadpidan, the boulder beach northwest of Vayang.  It is still the habagat (southwest monsoon) season so the sunsets are usually not that dramatic but the beach, littered with rocks and battered by increasingly-stronger waves, is simply beautiful.  Coy Mt. Iraya, to the southwest, momentarily appeared, unshrouded by clouds.  We shoot the sunset alright but also enjoy another place that is too beautiful for words.

Next on Lagalog:  Life in a fishing town

Related Links:
• Part 1 - Back to Batanes for a 3-Island Hop
• Part 2 - Return to the Coral Island and Choco Popcorn Bliss


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