Batanes, Philippines

    The hills are very much alive in the Batanes group of islands. Batanes is the northernmost province of the Philippines, considered as the smallest province of the country, both in terms of population and land area. Consisting of ten islands, the Batanes group of islands  is bounded by the Eashi Channel on the north, by the Pacific Ocean on the east, by the South China Sea on the west and the Balintang Channel on the south.

Batanes Hills
Photo Source: Wikipedia

       The people of Batanes or the Ivatans, whose ancestors are descended of Austronesians who migrated to the islands 4000 years ago during the Neolithic period.  The dominant language in Batanes is also called Ivatan, Ivatan is considered to be one of the  Austronesian languages. Batanes have a borderline subtropical climate, similar to those of neighboring southern Taiwan and Okinawa. Sometimes the island experiences below the normal low of 13 °C (55 °F) in the winter months. There is a misconception that Batanes is constantly battered by typhoons.

Batanes Ivatan woman
Ivatan Woman
Photo Source: Wikipedia

     If Batanes is mentioned in connection with weather disturbances, it is because its capital, Basco, holds the last weather station in the north. It is a reference point for all typhoons that enter the Philippine area. It has no pronounced wet or dry season. It enjoys practically four seasons, the best ones being summer (April–June) and winter (December–February), when the temperature dips as low as 7 °C. Cool weather, that Ivatans like to call winter, prevails from December to February.

    Characterized as one of the  last remaining places in the Philippines having unique natural physiographic features (wave-cut cliffs, cave-like outcrops, secluded white sand beaches) resulting from its position where strong winds and fast currents have etched out its distinct morphology. The province is an important area for many migratory bird species, and the deeper portions of the marine environment are the few remaining sites where pink and red corals (Corallum sp.) are found.

batanes 1

      Batanes, is also the only site in the Philippines where traditional architecture is of stone in response to the wind and monsoon stresses and not of the more typical, tropical, impermanent materials (wood, bamboo, thatch) commonly used in village architecture in most part of the country. Because of its isolation from the rest of the country, the traditional culture of the area has likewise remained intact. Batanes, a heritage site not  only for the Philippines but for the rest of the world.


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