Brief History

Batanes is situated in the northernmost part of the Philippines it consists of 10 islands and islets. The three largest islands, Batan, Sabtang and Itbayat, are inhabited by the natives. The indigenous people of Batanes Islands are known as Ivatan which they used two languages the Ivatanen which is spoken in Batan and Sabtang Islands is distinct from the the Itbayaten, the language used by the people from Itbayat.

Batan is relatively the most developed island in terms of commerce and tourism, especially in the provincial capital town of Basco, where most hotels and other tourist facilities and services are located and offered to visitors. It also have several attractions that one certainly cannot cover in a day. Both natural and man-made wonders on the island will surely astonish even local Filipino tourists, such as rolling hills, imposing cliffs, distinct sand and boulder beaches, old churches and vernacular dwellings, as well as local food and delicacies.

Biodiversity plays an important role in the life support system in the Batanes Protected Landscapes and Seascapes. While it is one of the few places in the country where balance between man and nature is being preserved mainly due to the low population pressure, it is nevertheless threatened by internal and external forces which can disturb this precarious balance that’s why the Ivatan was able to develop a set of indigenous knowledge and system of biodiversity conservation and management while adopting the particularities on their harsh environment which enable them to understand the nature of Batanes unique ecosystem. One manifestation of Ivatan ability to adapt to their environment can be seen in their design of the Ivatan houses built against strong winds and incessant battering of rain, equals sea, sea spray and storm. The Ivatan used their indigenous skills and knowledge in farming and fishing in conserving biodiversity. Such best practices are the Liveng and Mataw. The liveng is just like the Sloping Agricultural Land Technology (SALT). The liveng existed due to the harsh weather condition of Batanes, because the farmers planted forest and fruit trees, bamboos within their hedge rows to protect their crops from strong winds, to prevent soil erosion and to serve as monument of their farm lots. With regards to fishing, the Ivatans are also inclined to preserve their ethno-scientific and religio-mythical beliefs. Like the Mataw, a seasonal fishing practice takes place only in the summer months of the year from March to May. The main purpose of this is to catch a migratory fish they called arayu, a non-mammalian dolphin. Furthermore, cooperativism and self-help are apparent in the Ivatan’s fishing and farming activities. After a day’s work in the fields or in any activity, the Ivatan gather themselves in friendly reunions to informally celebrate a work accomplished over a pot of palek, a local beverage produced from sugar cane. There are three forms of work organizations in Batanes where men and women maybe members. They are the Kayvayvayanan, the Payuhwan and the Kapanidungan. The Kayvayvayanan is a work organization of elderly men and women. They work for the whole day for a member from early morning to sundown. The Payuhwan is a sort of a club for work purposes among teenage boys and girls and it lasts for only three to four months when weeding in the field is most needed. It is a seasonal work in the farm to do clearing, planting, and weeding, as well as preparation of trellises and fences. The Kapanidungan is another work organization that, instead of working regularly like the other two organizations describe above, the members of this organization meet to work only when help is needed like replacing the nets on the cogon roofs or shelter the animals.

The entire province of Batanes is a potential tourism area. The three main islands offer unique and sometimes contrasting attraction. The main island (Batan) is the most varied and interesting in terms of natural scenery. Its natural attractions include the dramatic rock formation along the coast, the Mt. Iraya, an extinct volcano half covered by clouds and wrapped in the deepest green throughout the year. Mt. Matarem at the southern part of the island also offers a unique features and oftenly trecked by tourist. Surprisingly, however, the trails to Mt. Matarem are beautiful, starting off with pasturelands then wide paths, lined with evergreen trees of unusual shapes. This surreal atmosphere, which gives the feeling of 'being on a fairy tale', is maintained even at the highest parts of the trail; there are fruits for the birds, flowers of different colors, and birds. In many ways, the mountain is like Mt. Iraya, only more benign and relaxing. Instead of a dense forest, the abovementioned features comprise woodland, with enough clearings to catch a view of Batan Island.

Owing to its unique features and diverse flora and fauna, the Batanes group of island was proclaimed as the Batanes Protected Landscapes and Seascapes (BPLS) pursuant to Presidential Proclamation 335 by former President Fidel V. Ramos in 1994, subsequently under Republic Act no. 8991enacted on January 2001. With this, there are at least 96 species of ferns and fern allies belonging to 49 genera and 25 families recorded in Mt. Iraya vicinities. Two (2) of these are found only in Batanes and eight (8) are found in the Philippine archipelago. Another biological richness is the flowering plants found all over Batanes. Forty two (42) are known to be found only in the Philippines. Seven (7) of these are found only in Batanes. These are Kanarem (Diospyros sabtanensis), Riwas (Drypetes falcata), Vua (Areca catechu var. sabtanensis), Voyavoy (Phoenix hanceana var. Philippinensis), Gagadang (Hydrangea subiregral), Tangaw and Vuhuan.

Batanes is affluent in Eco-cultural tourism sites such as natural, its religious practices, development initiatives and local events. Natural attractions and traditional structures found therein are the two Natural Bay that is commonly known to Batanes, one is the Valugan bay that has a boulder beach on the central port of the eastern side of Batan Island. The beach is divided into boulder beach and gravel beach. Boulder line in the northern portion while gravel deposits occur in the southern portion of the coastline. This indicates the energy level that prevails in the different section of the beach. One of its significance is an outstanding example representing major stages of earth history including the record of life, significant on-going geological process in the development of land forms, or significant geo-morphic or physiographic features. Second, the remote Duvek Bay in Sabtang Island is beautiful, isolated site that is harbor. It is an outstanding, rich in marine resources and virtually untouched sanctuary for the abundant marine resources of southern Batanes. The biodiversity of the site is extremely limited access. It is important for the conservation of marine diversity and fishery resources. In addition, tourist commonly called the Sabtang Island a Sleeping Beauty because of its shape and formation as if a beautiful lady is floating asleep in the sea. Aside from that, there are two marine sanctuaries in Sabtang Island, Nakanmuan and Chavayan. Would you believe that in Batanes, boat-shape burial grounds exist in Ivuhos, Batan, and Itbayat Island while a Japanese tunnel is seen in Basco. There is no wide river in Batanes but there is the legendary spring of Youth and Enchanted cave of Chawa in Mahatao. Another attraction of Batan Island include the 5-kilometer stretch of national highway cut out of cliff jutting to the sea and the rolling hills used as communal pasture where one could get a panoramic view of both east and west coast of the island. On the other hand, Itbayat is located north of Batan Island. It is surrounded by massive boulders and cliffs rising from 20-70 feet above sea level and has no shoreline.

Batanes offer a diverse attraction and special interest activities that include: game fishing, water surfing, diving, mountain climbing and trekking. Village tour, historical tour and visit to farm and ancestral houses are special ways of discovering Batanes wealth and rich culture. Likewise, with other festivities, Batanes also have its own local event that is celebrated on the 26th day of June each year. It is a weeklong celebration marked with playground demonstrations parades, games, the Palu-Palo festival and fishing boat race. Now a days, each municipality has its own unique festivities like in Basco, the Kulay festival during the first week of April. It emphasizes all kinds of dried crops, fruits, fishes (Dibang, Arayu) and vegetables, In Ivana and Itbayat the Akus festival. In Mahatao, the Rakanen Festival- highlighting all kinds of vegetables found in Batanes. In Uyugan, the Ańus (Squid) Festival while in Sabtang, the Amung (Fish) Festival.

Furthermore, the Ivatans managed to maintain a collective gentleness of character and politeness bordering on innocent that rarely seen in highly urbanized centers. This quality of the people and the province’s natural and man-made attractions combined to create a very positive image in the traveler’s consciousness. Aside from the provinces picturesque landscapes, the architecture of the Ivatan houses is also an attraction. Houses are made of limestone with a rough but interesting exterior finish, half meter to a meter thick wall, built to withstand inclement weather.

The Ivatan culture can also be attributed to the condition of the land and virtual isolation from the mainstream of Philippine society. The harsh climate, characterized by numerous typhoons visiting the area, has molded the Ivatans into a hardly, self-reliant and resilient people. They are used to hard work, depending on their toil for food and rebuilding their farms or homes the very next day after a devastating typhoon strikes.

The Ivatans have a strong social tie. The presence of stone houses and hundred-meter long livestock stone fence which were collectively built show their cooperative spirit. Despite the toughness of their inner character that is condition by harsh weather, the Ivatans are peace-loving and have a gentle and polite demeanor. Batanes is one of the few provinces in the country where there is a very low crime incidence and an absence of rebellious characterized activities.

Many investors and businessman said that Batanes is one of the places where greener pasture will prevail in the future, however the Ivatans believed that any changes or improvements which may be imposed for the province must always take into consideration the distinct quality and traits of the Ivatans. A comprehensive development intervention must not conflict with, but rather enhance the people’s custom and retain their unique cultural traditions.

As widespread information, most tourists can conveniently negotiate this challenging piece of paradise on Earth during the summer months in the Philippines. Such a short window Mother Nature has allotted for mere wandering mortals with priceless rewards of breathtaking sights and pristine cultural experience.

Both for local and foreign travelers, a substantial trip to Batanes will definitely realize one's dream of an amazing tourist adventure. As they say, it's more fun in the Philippines.

 

UPDATES ON PRIORITY PROGRAMS AND PROJECTS

A. FORESTRY SECTOR
  • National Greening Program (with breakdown)
  • Forestland Delineation Program (list of town and cities completed, pending …)
  • Community-based Forest Management Program
  • Tenurial instruments issued
B. LAND SECTOR
  • Cadastral Survey
  • Handog Titulo
C. PROTECTED AREAS AND WILDLIFE SECTOR
  • Protected Area Management Program
  • List of PA
  • Wildlife Management Program
  • Coastal and Marine Management Program
D. MINES AND GEOSCIENCES SECTOR
  • Geohazard Assessment and Mapping Program
  • Mining Projects
E. ENVIRONMENT SECTOR
  • Adopt-an-estero program
F. RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT SECTOR
  • Research programs/projects in the province

 

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TRANSPARENCY SEAL

GRAPHICS 4
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CITIZEN'S CHARTER
INVITATION TO BID
ENR STATISTICS

   FORESTRY SECTOR

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   PAWCZMS SECTOR

   RESEARCH SECTOR


 
 
TABLES      
  • Summary of Tenurial Instruments issued
  • Summary of Permits Issed/Per Sector
  • Summary of Protected Areas in the Area
  • Summay of Biodiversity Resources Thriving in the Area