Monday, February 9, 2015

Our Batanes Adventure Day 2 : The Faluwa Ride to Sabtang

After exploring the many attractions in Batan Island, we are now hoping to explore Sabtang.

We were up as early as 4:30 AM to catch the boat that's supposed to leave at 6:30.  As the morning breaks, we can see that the sky is clearer compared to yesterday when passengers were allowed to cross.

The Church in Ivana.  God granted our request to visit Sabtang.
Not only that he let us arrive safely, he also made the journey exciting!

Our glimmer of hope, a Faluwa preparing to leave!
We left Villa Bella on foot to Radiwan Port, the Gateway to Sabtang Island. The small road led us to Ivana Church, where from the entrance, we can see a boat loading items in preparation.  We approached one of the crew, and found out that they are actually going to Sabtang.  We wrote our names on the manifesto, and were asked to wait as they secure clearance from the coast guard.  Although the weather improved, the waves were still strong as the docked boat sway from side to side.  Other passengers started arriving in hopes of getting across.
The breakwater of Radiwan.

A few minutes later, the boat crew broke the bad news that all trips are cancelled because of the strong waves.  We were all disappointed because for Ar. Allan, Eileen, Ryan and Me, this is our only opportunity to cross.  Our flight back to Manila is scheduled the next morning.  Ar. Ana and Mark still have 3 extra days to spare.

These looked like giant jack stones!

We stayed at the port a few minutes more hoping for a miracle.  Ar. Joseph, his wife Wendy and their son Jason went back to the house to prepare for our breakfast, since were not having them at Sabtang anymore.  Ar. Ana and Marc took the opportunity to explore the church and surroundings.  Ar. Allan and Ar. Eileen realized that the best place to ask for a miracle is right in front of us, the Church.  They went inside to offer prayers as I walk around the port area looking for cigarettes.  I went inside, what looked like a store not knowing it's the popular Honesty Coffeeshop.  Inside, I found other tourists drowning themselves in coffee to get over the disappointment of the cancelled trip.  They don't sell cigarettes though.  I guess smoking doesn't compliment honesty.

I went out and head towards the direction of the port again looking for small stands and to catch up with our group.  On my way back, I saw the crew who assisted us and I smiled at him.  By this time, I have gotten used to the Ivatan culture of everybody acknowledging everyone with a smile or a greeting.

He asked me the whereabouts of my companions.  I told him that they're still around taking photos of the church.  He told me to ask them to wait a bit more, because the Mayor of Sabtang arrived trying to convince the coast guard to let us cross.  It turned out that he himself is a passenger.  I alerted the group of the news and we found ourselves at the port again.

The other passengers who stayed in the vicinity came back, as the boat crew hands out our life jackets confirming our departure.  I immediately called Ar. Joseph informing him that they allowed us to leave.  They arrived just in time for boarding.

The boat, called locally as Faluwa is large fiber class boat with the bow designed higher than normal for rising waves.  Cargoes and motorbikes are placed in front while passengers occupy the stern and the sides around the steering section where the captain maneuvers the boat.  The boat is roofed, leaving an opening above the captain's seat, so he can stand to see above the bow in cases when the boat tilts upward.

The Faluwa!

As soon as everyone was boarded, the Captain maneuvered our way out of the breakwater.  We know we're in for a rough ride as the boat sways to exit the opening.  I've heard stories on how hellish Faluwa rides can be, and this was a trip originally (and might still be) cancelled.  How can you describe something worst than hellish?

The ride was the longest 30 minutes of our lives.  The waves were huge as we move further away from Ivana.  They even got bigger, (as high as our boat) as we approach Sabtang.    It reminded me of Anchors Away, the theme park ride at that rocks you forward and backwards sending cramps to your stomach.  At this point, we were questioning our decision to push through, but there's no turning back now, and were not leaving Batanes without setting foot on this island.

The passengers including me applauded the boat driver as we enter the breakwater in Sabtang, in gratitude of having reached the destination safely.  I was relieved to finally set foot on stable ground.  We thanked the Captain and the Mayor for making the trip possible and boarded the van waiting for us at the port.
Land! Finally!

What's ironic, is that right across the port is Sabtang's Church just like the one in Ivana.  Those waters are really treacherous, and I think, especially in times like this, you really need divine intervention to guide you safely.  You really need to offer prayers every trip and be thankful for every safe docking.

Once in Sabtang, all tourists are asked to pay a Tourism Fee of 200 pesos that allows you access to the many attractions in the Island.  In front of the tourism office is a beautiful stone house with bright green doors and windows.  We were taking photos when the owner showed up and invited us in so some of us can look out the window for that perfect shot.

The lovely house in front of the Municipal Tourism Office.  While they're busy registering our names, some of us went busy coming up with a perfect FB cover photo!

Also, unique to the island are their Cogon roofed tricycles.  It's their way of adapting tradition with modern transportation.

Before the tour, we went to a locale eatery near the port to have breakfast, but since most of the stores are still closed because people are attending the morning Sunday mass, we settled on what's available, coffee.

To be continued....

This is now the 4th of Our Batanes Adventure Series
Our Batanes Adventure Day 1 (Batan Island)
Our Batanes Adventure: The Preparation
Our Batanes Adventure: Helpful Tips

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