13 Mind-Blowing Facts About Batanes You Must Haven’t Heard of Yet

13 Mind-Blowing Facts About Batanes You Must Haven’t Heard of Yet
racuh a payaman batanes
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How can you not love Batanes? Breathtaking views, fascinating rich culture, and kind locals—these pretty much sum up why travelers dream of visiting Batanes. But aside from these, there lies the interesting facts about Batanes that people should learn about.

We’ve rounded up 12 interesting Batanes facts that you must haven’t heard of yet!

1. It is the smallest province in the Philippines

aerial shot of batan island in batanes

The northernmost province of the Philippines has a total land area of 230 km. It is located between 121° 45′ to 122° 15′ east longitudes, and at 20°15′ north latitudes.

2. Batanes is made up of 10 volcanic islands

sabtang island in batanes

But only three are inhabited. These are Batan (where the provincial capital of Vasay (Basco) is located), Sabtang, and Itbayat. Ivuhos island, lying about a kilometer and a half cast of Sabtang, has a handful of families tending cattle. While the other uninhabited islands are Yami, North, Mavudis, Siayan, Di-nem and Dequey. 

3. There’s almost zero crime rate in the province

That is why Batanes is known to be one of the most peaceful provinces in the Philippines. Because of how honest and kind Ivatans are, they even have an “Honesty Coffee Shop” where people buy goods even without the staff to attend to it. Our Batanes facts list will not be complete without this.

4. Ivatans still perform the age-old fishing tradition Kapayvanuvanua

fishermen preparing for the fishing ritual in batanes
Photo credits to Hendrix Vargas

One of the most interesting facts about Batanes that every traveler should know is about the Kapayvanuvanua. They perform the ritual before fishing for arayu (dolphin fish), a food staple in Batanes, by offering animal sacrifices to spirits of the sea to bless them with safe and bountiful fishing season. Fishing for this prized fish is only done during summer, between April to May. 

5. Closer to Taiwan than to the northern tip of Luzon

aerial shot of blue lagoon in batanes

Distance of Taiwan from the northernmost islet of Batanes is 218 kilometers while Manila to Batanes is 500 kilometers. Usually, airfares going to Batanes are more expensive than traveling to foreign countries.

6. House of Dakay is one of the only five structures that survived 1918 earthquake in Batanes

house of dakay in batanes

Built in 1887, the 133-year old House of Dakay is considered to be the oldest traditional Ivatan stone house in Batanes. The traditional Ivatan stone houses made of stone and lime with cogon roofs could withstand the strongest typhoon.

7. Basco lighthouse location used to be the site of the American period telegraph facilities

basco lighthouse in batanes

Among the interesting facts about Basco Lighthouse is this. It was the site of the American period telegraph facilities that connected Batanes with the central government until it was destroyed by the Japanese during World War II. Some buildings survived and some have been converted to Bunker’s Café.

8. You can’t simply buy a land or property in Batanes

marlboro hills in batanes

Unless you’re an Ivatan or you marry one. According to locals, only Ivatans can own a property in Batanes because the entire province is declared by law as a protected area and also covered by the Indigenous People’s Rights Act, which recognizes the province as the ancestral domain of the Ivatans. This is one of the surprising facts about Batanes.

9. Vakul and  Kanayi are not made purposely for fashion

a couple wearing ivatans' traditional head gear

Made from shredded leaves of voyavoy or Philippine date palm, Vakul is a headgear worn by women while Kanayi are vests worn by men. Locals use these to protect themselves from the sun and rain especially when they are farming. While modernity is noticeable in the province, some Ivatans still use these gears to preserve the culture and tradition.

10. Blowing your horns in Batanes is encouraged

alapad hills and rock formation

While blowing horns in other places is not allowed unless it’s an emergency, in Batanes, it’s even encouraged to avoid accidents because there are many curved roads. Hence, “Blow Ur Horn” signs are normal sights in Batanes. 

11. Bayanihan is still alive in Batanes

happy fishermen in batanes

Bayanihan (uniting to help one another) is one of the most important values in the Philippines especially during the olden times but since time passed and technology is rising affecting our culture, traditions, and values, bayanihan is slowly fading away. But in Batanes, it lives on up to this day! When Ivatans find out that a neighbor is fixing a house or preparing for a special occasion, the community will help that person without questions asked nor any expectations in return. No wonder they are dubbed as the kindest Filipinos!

12. Ivatans have a traditional way of serving food

food wrapped in kabaya leaves in batanes

And it’s called vunung. They wrap the meal on Kabaya leaves. Usually, these are served on special occasions like weddings where people help hand in hand in the preparations without compensation.

13. The local government gives free food to everyone on Batanes Day

people lining up for free food in batanes

Like any other festivals in the Philippines, Batanes holds a weeklong festival to celebrate their foundation day but the most awaited event is every June 26 where street dance performances and other sports competitions are held. But not only that, because on this day, the local government gives free food to everyone may it be locals or tourists! Usually, there are around four to five trucks loaded with Vunungs and people would line up for it after the main event and they would all eat together at the plaza for the “community lunch”.

Batanes, truly, is not just a feast for the eyes for its picturesque views but also a destination where visitors can learn culture, traditions, and good values. Ivatans are so lucky to call this place home.

For a more detailed Batanes travel guide, read this blog.

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