Batanes 2015: Day 1

A post two years in the making.. I know, right? Better late than never!

My then-boyfriend/fiancé, and now husband – David, suggested we take a trip to Batanes, since I told him about how it has been a long-time dream for me to go there. Up until that time, I couldn’t find a “suitable” travel-mate to Batanes. I was actually planning to go alone before I met David that year. So I was planning to go there for my birthday in September 2015. I met David early 2015 and ended up getting engaged by August 2015! I ended up spending my birthday in Batanes – with my fiancé! (insert hearts and flowers here hehe!)

Okay, so here are 5 photos from Day 1.

We woke up early to catch our 7am flight from Manila to Basco thru Philippine Airlines. I am happy to have enough Mabuhay Miles to get a free round trip ticket (David paid for his at around PhP 13,000.00 roundtrip). there are other carriers to Batanes, but I personally recommend PAL because I have heard of other carriers cancelling trips with no definite schedule or compensation or refund.
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When we arrived at Basco, we found out that tricycles are booked thru a cellphone number which we can call or text! Wow! Move over Grab and Uber, Basco has an efficient tricycle booking system! We got tricycle number 32, with kuya Severino as driver (we later booked him to tour us around Basco, as he turned out to be the brother of the housekeeper at Rapitan di Vasay)

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Tricycle #32

David and I had breakfast at Rapitan di Vasay, and took a nap before we headed out. We woke up around noontime, and decided to walk around town to look for the lighthouse. We got there in a few minutes, all hot and sweaty, but the view was so beautiful – it was so worth it!

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Lighthouse
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View of the capital

We roamed around Basco to find a place to eat. The town isn’t as commercialized as the other islands in the Philippines that are visited by tourists, and there are only a number of places that serve lunch. While walking around, hungry and hot, we bought some biscuits, soda and cassava cake from a sari–sari store. We chanced upon a newly-built hotel (I forgot the name, but it’s painted light green) and they served lunch! Upon asking, we also found out the hotel owner has a boat that takes passengers from Basco island to Sabang island. We were planning to go to Sabang the next day, and we asked the lady at the hotel to book us. It was just by chance, but it worked out!

We went on to walk around town, saw a police pick-up with goats at the back (we learned that Batanes has a zero crime rate, and police officers usually take stray animals that destroy properties instead). We found a restaurant at the edge of town where we decided to have dinner. I was disappointed with the lobster which cost us PhP 700.00, turned out to have two spoonfuls of meat. So lesson learned – ask the locals first!

We ended up buying snacks at the sari-sari store for midnight feedings. Hehe. End of Day 1.

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Beautiful Batanes

Batanes is a province of the Philippines which is composed of islands at the northern most part of the country. It is actually closer to Taiwan than mainland Luzon.

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Since I was in college, I have dreamed about going to Batanes, as I have seen some photos online that were simply beautiful. Although I live in the city, it is more of the necessity of being close to my job and my son’s school, but if I have the resources to live wherever I want, I’d want to live in the province, as I have grown up in the province as well. Being so close to the sea and the mountains in Sual, Pangasinan, made me appreciate nature even more. And having lived in the city since I went to college, I have this hunger to be close to nature when I have the opportunity.

So going to Batanes was more than a decade in the making. It is an advantage that airfare costs have dropped in the past decade, and that there is a regular flight to Batanes via Philippine Airlines.

Since I travel a lot for work, I was fortunate to have accumulated Mabuhay Miles points that were enough to get a free round trip ticket to Batanes. My then-boyfriend (now husband) had to buy his own ticket, but it was still a bargain at that time. The Batanes trip was a promise he made before we got engaged. It was also his birthday gift to me, and I celebrated my birthday in Basco 🙂

So, on with our Batanes trip!

Before the actual trip, of course we planned our itinerary and looked for accommodations online. We used Tripadvisor in our research, as well as blog posts of those who have gone to Batanes and were generous enough to share the details of their trip, including the expenses.

We chose to stay at Rapitan di Vasay, a bed and breakfast at the heart of Basco, the province’s capital. Rapitan di Vasay, which means “a place to stay in Vasay”. It is an old house that was converted to a B&B. It is a quaint, homey place, and it felt like we went home to our ancestral home 🙂 They only cook breakfast, which we had to confirm a day before since they only cook for the guests. At that time the breakfast was PhP250.00 per head. Seems expensive, but so worth it! The serving is generous, the ingredients were fresh. My husband liked the fresh pako salad (fern salad). If you have a late breakfast, the meal is good enough for brunch 🙂

Food in Batanes is quite expensive since they have to ship everything from the mainland. And with the rough weather in Batanes especially during typhoon season, they do not have much fruit trees or haciendas or farms. It was a good thing that we were in the center of Basco, close to the St. Dominic College where they have a canteen that is open all week. Food is cheap and enough to fill our tummies. They even bake cakes, so on my birthday, we ordered a slice and 2 plates of pancit 🙂

For our tours, our tricycle driver, Kuya Severino, who was also the brother of one of the katiwala at Rapitan di Vasay (tricycle #32!) knew exactly where to take us. We didn’t take a guided tour with a travel agency, since it was awfully expensive, and it’s Batanes! Who needs an air-conditioned van when you have fresh air from the mountains and the sea? Each tour with Kuya Severino was PhP1,000 to PhP1,200. There is the North Batan tour, and the South Batan tour. Each tour would be around 4-5 hours, so we had them on separate days. For the Sabang Island tour, we chanced upon a person who arranges the boat ride and tricycle tour when we had lunch in one of the newer hotels in Basco. I have forgotten the name of the hotel, but its building was colored light green and was close to the talipapa that sold fresh fish. The Sabang Island boat ride was around PhP 150.00 per head, and the tricycle tour was PhP 800. The arranged lunch at Sabang Island was an additional PhP 300 per head. It was necessary to pay for the arranged lunch since there are no carindeira in Sabang that served food to tourists.

We will certainly go back to Batanes in the coming years, and we will book a longer stay so we can also explore the Itbayan Island, where we need to stay in the island overnight since the one-way boat trip is already 4 hours long.

I am blogging about our tours separately so I can post more photos.

Can’t wait to go back! Explore Batanes, it’s awesome!

 

 

 

 

The Unexpected

Another year has passed, and now it’s 2017!

My Memories on Facebook showed my new year posts from way back 2009, and through the years I could see how drastically my life has changed. Well, my profession is almost the same since I work in the same industry. But on a personal level, 2015 has made the biggest change so far. It’s surreal that I actually “toasted” to it back in January 2015!

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My 2015 start of year post: “A toast to a phenomenal year ahead!”

 

So the post was made in January and I met my husband in March. We got engaged in August, had our first out-of-town vacation in September and ended 2015 with plans to get married in 2016 🙂

So indeed, 2015 was a phenomenal year!

2016 was great and challenging at the same time. Planning a small wedding was probably easier than the traditional 100 plus guest extravaganza, but it was not without bumps. Nonetheless, we made it happen. We got married in March, on the anniversary of our first date!

Who knew in January 2015 that by March 2016 I’d be married??? It was the most unexpected thing.

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So for 2017, we are going to work on our next project: Project Baby K! 🙂 Join us in our prayers!

Worth it

“You are worthy…”
For a long time I couldn’t grasp what that phrase meant. I knew that I was loved by the people who mattered to me – family, close friends.. but I guess there came a time that I gave up on finding a lifetime partner because simply, I wasn’t worth loving for a lifetime.
I was actually imagining to be dating at age 50 just like those movie stars do. Hahaha. Assuming I have the looks and the money.
So meeting my now-husband wasn’t expected, but at the back of my mind, I have always hoped for it. At that time, I was obsessed with reading romance novels, typically the shorter ones with an average of 300 pages. Most of the leading men in the novels are dominant, almost cave-man like, possessive and passionate. Of course they were loyal, loving and they lived for their woman. Then there is always that conflict – they vary but in the end the message is always — I choose you and no one else. If I have to go through it all over again, I would, because you are worth it. 
I never thought that I was already attracting MY leading man. But only a few days into the relationship, he was already talking about marriage, about proposing to me, which I evaded and tried to look for faults in. I mean who in their right mind would propose to a new girlfriend? The only thing that prevented him from proposing earlier was his financial status at that time, since he was transitioning to a new job after getting off the grid due to a personal crisis of losing his son to cancer. (That is another story, which is not mine to tell)
So yes, I dated a guy who was almost broke at that time. But I knew he was working hard and that he found a new reason to do so (yes it was me hehe haba ng hair). I am so glad to have been part of that transition in his life, and now that I look back on it, I knew I stayed because he was worth it. He still is and always will be! (and he is no longer almost broke 🙂 )
Which leads me to the realization – and he never failed to say it especially when he was convincing me to marry him — that I was worth it, and this was my time to be happy, like my friends and family who have found their happiness ( and who I envied all the time). 
Yes now I accept that fact – I am worthy. And so are you. 

Back to Blogging

Wow, it’s been a long while since I last blogged. My attempt at maintaining a paid blogging platform failed since I wasn’t able to track my subscriptions and failed to renew them. (I also wanted to have a blog that earns money, like some of my blogger friends, but I guess that really needs focus and commitment!) Haha! I know it’s a lame excuse for someone who wants to be a “blogger”. But anyway, here I am on a free webhosting blog to start fresh and just be real.
I started blogging back in 2006 at The Real Me (zahflo.wordpress.com). It was all about my experiences as a single mother, with the consistent support of my own mother. So my family was my mother and my son.
Fast forward 10 years – just this year, in March 2016, I got married to the man who made (and will continue to make) my dream(s) come true. I will blog about our story in another post. But let me just say that I never expected that I would ever be married after being a single mom for 10 years. I thought I was going to be single until I become a grandma!
Anyway, with the popularity of Facebook, a lot of people find that posting there is enough. But for me, blogging is still a better way to share my thoughts, even if only a few people will be interested to read.
So here I am, back to blogging! I will not attempt to make this a money generating blog (at least not yet). But of course I will be open to doing that when an opportunity comes. In the meantime, let this be my official announcement to the blogging world that – Lisaflor is back! 🙂