Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Our Batanes Adventure: The Preparation

Our chapter, the United Architects of the Philippines, Manila Corinthian have been yearning to go on a Batanes trip ever since we found out that one of our members, Ar. Joseph Barsana came from the province and is a part of the prominent families in the town of Ivana where his father Hon. Anastacio Barsana served as the Municipal Mayor for years.
Our gracious host, Ar. Joseph Barsana with his adorable 3 yr old son Jason.
The bigger challenge however, started on finding the right schedule for the trip. A lot of factors have to be considered, like the cost of airfare, availability of members and the weather condition.

We all agreed that the ideal time would have to be February, but in order to accommodate the National Events for the organization, and that airfares are more expensive during the summer months, I was forced to take an earlier schedule on the last week of January.

Since June of 2014, I was in the lookout for on-line promo sales for airfares, but it was only in September, when I heard the announcement for the Philippine Travelmart after having travelled with newfound friends who works for Philippine Airlines in Baler.

I waited in line for four hours without lunch just to get a ticket. I would have wanted to buy as many as I can for my officers at least, but I don’t have the cash or credit cards to make the purchase. Also, since it’s the last day, the promo slots are almost filled out, but I was still lucky to get my Manila-Basco at 1,299 pesos. My mistake is booking my return flight on the third day without checking the schedule of the flight. It was only after I checked the ticket that I found out that the return flies early morning leaving me with just 2 full days to explore the province.

After securing myself of tickets, I posted the event invite hoping that more would join. I said to myself, if in case no one would join, I would just go to ocular to better prepare for a bigger group on our next visit.

15 people signified their interest but only 6 actually went!
A lot confirmed their interests but it was only Ar. Alan Co, his wife Ar. Eileen and Ar. Ryan Fajardo who actually purchased their tickets. I was so relieved to find out I was not travelling alone. They were smart enough to book an earlier flight that allows them 3 full days to tour Batanes.

As the day nears, and with 4 confirmed participants, I made contact with Ar. Joseph to coordinate the details of the trip. It was then that I found out that he actually scheduled his annual vacation during the same week to accommodate us. He’s coming four days ahead of us. We were updating each other on what to expect thru Facebook. After a few days, I received a message that Ar. Ana Carangan – Valencia, and Ar. Marc Valencia (who came straight from Dubai) is also joining us.

We scheduled a meeting a week before our flight to finalize everything. Ar. Joseph presented options on where to stay and tour itinerary. We assured him that he need not exert so much effort with the group, and that we are flexible and are very much willing to adjust to anything, even the expenses. I have been to other adventurous destinations with Arch’s Alan, Eileen and Ryan and have seen them get dirty, sleep on the ground and get wet, so adjusting to any situations would not be hard for them.

We were updated by Ar. Joseph days before the arrival of the 1st batch on our final itinerary.

January 26, 2015
Ar. Joseph Barsana's arrival in Batanes
Arrival of Ar. Alan, Ar. Eileen, and Ar. Ryan with our Host Ar. Joseph and Jason
(Photo grabbed from Ar. Eileen's Album)

January 30, 2015
Arrival of Ar. Alan Co, Ar. Eileen Co, and Ar. Ryan Fajardo
Tour of Basco and Batan Island
ETA 9:35 AM
Airport to Villa Bella
Lunch at Vatang Grill
1:00 PM South Tour
Rock Formation
Marlborro Country
Tayid Light House
6:00 PM Back to Villa Bella
7:00 PM Dinner
8:00 PM Bedtime
Estimated budget: 6000php
Approximately 2000/pax

January 31, 2015
7:00 AM Breakfast for 3
7:45 AM Arrival of Ar. Omar Palero, Ar. Marc Valencia, and Ar. Ana Valencia
Tour of Sabtang Island
9:00 AM Start of North Tour
Tukon Chapel
Radar Station
Fundacion Pacita
Japanese Tunnel
Valugan Boulder Beach
12:00 Lunch at Octagon 350/head
1:30 Light House at Basco
2:15 Vayang, Souvenir Shops, Capitol Park
4:00 PM Back to Ivana (free time)
Dinner at Barsana Beach House in Kidpidan Beach
Estimated budget: 7250 php
Approximately 1208/pax

February 1, 2015
Sabtang Tour
6:00 AM Radiwan port
Boatride to Sabtang
Tour of Sabtang
11:30 AM lunch at Sabtang Beach
1:30 PM Back to Ivana (free time)
7:00 PM Dinner at Villa Bella
Estimated Budget: 13900 php
Approximately 2316.70/pax

February 2, 2015
Departure of Ar. Alan, Eileen, Ryan and Omar
Optional tour of Itbayat Island for Ar. Ana and Ar. Marc.

Tour Package Total: Approx 27,300
Estimated 3.5k - 5.5k/pax

February 4, 2015
Departure of Ar. Ana and Marc.

I was still at work on the day that Ar. Alan and company was scheduled to arrive. I was checking their social media accounts for updates, but no Batanes related news was posted. I figured, that probably there's no internet signal in the province.

I still have a party to attend to the evening prior, but was so excited of the trip that not even the lack of sleep nor the hangover would stop me from going to the airport.

I was able to catch up with Ar. Marc and Ar. Ana at the check-in counter.

I would have to continue with the story of our flight and my Day 1 adventure on my next entry.

Please stay tuned, because my 2 day stay in Island might be short but its filled with unexpected challenges and the unpredictability Batanes is known for.

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