Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Stopover in Ivana on the way to Sabtang, Batanes

I went to Batanes for the third time, now with only one companion who is visiting for her first.  Because my brain hasn't been defragged for sometime i was left by the plane on the designated day. The ETD in my brain was wrong, as the schedule for Palawan for April 2018 is left lingering there, so i left home late for the 6:15 flight. That means i purchased another ticke for the next day, while my companion went ahead. From the airport she proceeded immediately to Sabtang Island by boat, slept at the Lighthouse Homestay on her own. The day i arrived she fetched me from the airport in Basco, because she wants the roller-coaster boat ride between the two islands and of course to give me company as i am scared of these waters. Her fancy for the boat ride is the opposite of my fear for rugged sea trips. 

The view of the very beautiful clouds at sunrise even if i am under the plane's wing.

We just took a regular passenger tricycle from Basco to Ivana because we are just going to the port. It is common in Batanes to have van or tricycle drivers who double as tourist guides. These days, the local Tourism Office conducts formal tour guiding trainings and licensure examinations. A guide told me that her batch has more than 200 trainees, but only 58 passed the examination. They are now the supposedly "licensed tour guides". 

It was a circuitous ride from Basco to Ivana, following the contour of the island along the coast

We took the noon boat to Sabtang as the first boat trip was very early in the morning. We were at the Ivana port a few hours before noon, so we had some time to look for the local Ivana views and of course searched for butterflies. The port of Ivana i saw last in 2010 looks almost the same now; except for some expansion of a reclaimed area at the town center to be their sports complex. The distinct landmark at the port is the jackstone concrete pile serving as breakwater. Our search for lunch walking almost 2km ended with a very sweet "sweet potato" sweets!  Can you imagine that? And fried sticky rice we call "maruya". That sufficed for lunch. 

Ivana port

the concrete jackstone pile as breakwater, the island at the background is Sabtang

There are two falowa boats plying this route, Sta. Ines and Sto. Tomas. Another boat caters to passengers at the other port of San Vicente. However, more passengers use this Ivana port. 

Sta. Ines falowa boat

The boat ride here is just 30-40 min., but during my first 2 rides in the past i remember the big waves that really got me scared. That length for me seemed to be 2 hours. Waters in these areas are famous because of the opposite currents at the middle, one from the Pacific Ocean and the other from the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea).  Falowa boats are designed such to conform with these currents. Outrigger boats will not do in these waters. That is what the residents told us earlier on. 

As in the previous trips here, we laso saw the flying fish flying along for a few seconds with the boat.  That is always an awesome pacifier when the going gets rough, for the spirits like mine. 

the church of Ivana is the most imposing landmark in town because it is on the high ground with long fascade facing the street and the port

inside the Ivana church 

This is the Ivana landscape viewed from the port. At the back is the church, and those cargo on a local jeep are the supplies for Sabtang, including food and other supplies. All cargo go to the boat including a few motorbikes and some long steel bars handled by a crane. 

Of course, i've told you we are going to Batanes to document butterflies. So every minute and opportunity counts.  My companion, Linda here, is busy and seriously using up the moments. The front of the church has lots of nectaring plants. We were curious as there are very few butterflies flying around, except for the low flying very tiny ones. We found 2 bigger ones, Catopsilia and another, but they are very flighty and did not alight on anything for us to photograph. 

We contented ourselves in chasing the very elusive little ones like those below, the Pale Grass Blue and the Lesser Grass Blue. There was still the tiniest among the blues, Tiny Grass Blue, which are also here, but they are truly difficult to pin on camera. 

Psudozizeeria maha okinawana Matsumura 1929
Lycaenidae; Lycaeninae; Polyommatini

Zizina otis oriens Butler 1883
Lycaenidae; Lycaeninae; Polyommatini

 We also scrutinized the plants and hedges near the church. We found this lovely moth larva on a vine. There are actually two of them there.

... and this lovely attractive jewel beetle also caught our attention. We exchanged positions and delve on trying to let it show its full good angle, until it flew where we cannot anymore follow. 

The few hours before our boat ride to Sabtang was productive, despite the really very few butterflies in the area during that time. Maybe the salty breeze or wind is harsh for them that they are obliged to stay at the higher vegetation. We intended to follow observations on higher elevation, but we lack the time. Maybe next time, on my fourth visit. 


  1. What an adventure! Being left behind on your designated departure is already a rabid indication of what awaits you in Batanes! But knowing you and Linda, nothing will deter you from relentlessly pursuing what your trip was intended for. I can only sigh in envy at your awesome trip but hopefully, will be able to join you in your next adventure, if my knees don't buckle down on me! Go, my friend where your spirits lead you!

    1. Yes Evelyn, true! I am lucky to have Linda as my buddy, she is fearless, relentless, strong and know a lot. You know me, i can't go with someone for a long time if she doesn't know much, hehehe!

  2. What a wonderful trip; this is in my bucket list. BTW, is there a way to avoid taking a small boat to get to the island? I'm scared of small boats.

    1. Hi Maria, hahaha, it is an island those boats are already improvements from the past, where "sagwan" or wooden paddles were used through those waters! You have no choice but to take it, anyway it is just 40min at most when the current is a bit rough. Our return trip was only 30 min because it was calm, said the driver.

  3. Wow...awesome photos & adventurous trip!

  4. Hello, what a great trip. I love the view of the sky from the plane, the water views and scenery. The butterflies are beautiful. Beautiful post. Happy Friday, enjoy your weekend!

  5. Great shots of the butterflies, and especially of the caterpillar. The beetle is terrific too.


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