Northernmost Frontier

Marine Fisheries and Eco-tourism


The island-province of Batanes is the smallest province in the Philippines with a land area of 230 square kilometers and was created by a series of volcanic activities and other geologic forces when Mt. Iraya erupted around 325 B.C. It is bounded on the north by the Bashi Channel, on the east by the Pacific Ocean, on the west by the China Sea and on the south by the Balintang Channel. Basco, its capital town is about 280 kilometers north of Aparri, Cagayan or some 860 kilometers north of Manila and about 190 kilometers south of Taiwan.

The pre-historic Ivatans who are nationally acclaimed as the “True Insulares” were boat-making and sea-faring people who lived in small tribal communities that lived on fishing, hunting, horticulture and raising root crops.

The Ivatans traced their roots to the early immigrants from Formosa (Taiwan) and the Spaniards who came to the island in the 16th century. To this day, they bear the features of their forebears – the Chinese almond eyes and the Spaniards’ aquiline nose. Their language is peppered with pidgin Spanish and is spoken with the rhythm of the Chinese language.

In 1782, then Governor General of the Philippines Jose Basco y Vargas sent an expedition to undertake the formalities of getting the consent of the Ivatans to become subjects of the king of Spain. On June 26, 1783, Joseph Huelva y Melgarjo became the first governor of Batanes. The new province was named Provincia de la Concepcion and Governor General Basco was named “Conde de la Conquista de Batanes” and the capital town was named after him.

By 1799, the Manila government was convinced that the Batanes provincial government was unable to support itself and it was decided to downgrade it. The office of the governor was abolished and Valerio Bermudez, a Cagayano was appointed alcalde.

By 1855 the Itbayat Mission was formally recognized the same year when the era of the alcalde also ended and the governorship was restored indicating a mode of political and economic upswing. Fernando de la Cueva was assigned Governor.

Around 1890 a mail boat was coming every three months increasing the contact of the Ivatans with Luzon especially Manila. The export of pork, lard and cattles increased. Galvanized iron became available.

On September 18, 1898, Katipuneros from Luzon hoisted their flag at Radiwan. Gov. Julian Fortea became the last Spanish governor.

In February  1900, the USS Princeton landed in  Batanes to begin American rule. The province became a mere township under Cagayan. Batanes became a province again by the provision of Act 1952 enacted on May 20, 1909 with Otto Scheerer as the Governor. A wireless  telegraph tower and station  was set up in Basco before 1920.


When the Japanese arrived in Batanes on Dec. 8,1941 they bomb the airport and destroyed the wireless telegraph tower. Ivatan resentment turned to aggressive resistance in 1945. After the war and the Philippines got its Independence, contact with the rest of the country increased. The airport was rehabilitated; media and radio communications have lessened cultural isolation. Infrastructures, electrification and deep-sea fishing improved and a shift to rice from root crops as traditional subsistence was effected.

Batanes today boasts of undisturbed and unspoiled beauty of nature preserved by the peace-loving Ivatans. A complete ecotourism destination, Batanes offers a kaleidoscope of natural beauty and ecological attractions from its rich marine resources of its verdant rolling terrain – all ideal for outdoor sports. Because fires and typhoons routinely destroyed government and mission buildings, lime and stone churches began to be built around 1795 with the help of imported masons, stone cutters and carpenters from Cagayan. Today, houses built of meter-thick limestone walls and foot-thick thatched/cogon roof whose main architectural consideration is its resistance to typhoon still stand.

In 1989, President Corazon Aquino visited Batanes while President Fidel V. Ramos celebrated his 65th birthday in Basco in 1993.  In 1994, the Island Province of Batanes was declared as one of the 10 Integrated Protected Area System (IPAS) sites in the country.

Visiting the island province is best during the period from March to June. The airline companies flying to Batanes include Batanes Airline, Chemtrad, Sky Pasada and Seair.  The entire Batan Island can be toured using a Sarao Type Jeepney at a rate of P1, 200.00 per day. Boat fare to Sabtang Island from Ivana Seaport is P30.00



BATAN ISLAND – is the most populated island of the province. It is composed of four municipalities namely  Ivana, Mahatao, Uyugan and the capital, Basco, is the seat of commerce, education and provincial government.

SABTANG ISLAND -  is a 30- minute  rocky ride from Ivana Seaport on a round-bottomed falowa, fourteen-kilometers southwest of Batan Island. It has intermittent sand beaches and is dominated with steep mountains and deep canyons with small level areas sporadically found along the coastline. It is one of the most beautiful islands in Batanes. Visit Chavayan and witness the rolling of the seven waves: Sumnanga or the Little Hongkong; Nakanmuan, the fishing Village; watch the “Kuyab” or Migratory Birds from China that flock by the hundreds during the month of October.

ITBAYAT ISLAND - has the Sarokan Cave, the orchids that abound in the island to discover and the burial caves to see. It is four hours away by Falowa from Basco Seaport. The island is surrounded by massive boulders and cliffs rising from 20-70 meters above sea level. Shaped like a giant bowl; it is the least visited island of the province. It has no beach and no pier. It has a dirt airstrip for private aircraft and a “regular ferry” runs the Batan-Itbayat route.

Y’AMI - is the northernmost island of Batanes where one can see Taiwan on a clear  day. “Tatus” or coconut crabs abound in the island, which is surrounded by rich marine life.


01. MT. IRAYA is a dormant volcano standing at 1,517 meters above sea level. It is good for mountain climbing and trail blazing and is a few kilometers from Basco. Its last eruption was in 505 AD and has become the source of  fertile soil in Basco and parts of Mahatao.

02. RADAR TUKON is an abandoned United States weather station located on a hilltop and is only 2.75 kilometers away from Basco. It offers a magnificent 360-degree view of Batan Island, the South China Sea, Mt. Iraya and Basco proper on one side and boulder lined cliffs and the Pacific Ocean on the other side. At present it houses the Basco Radar Station.

03. KANYUYAN BEACH PORT at Baluarte Bay in Basco is the port of call of cargo ships bringing goods from Manila.

04. SONGSONG IN CHADPIDAN BAY is an hour of exhilarating trek from Basco proper and offers a beautiful sunset view of Batanes.

05. STO DOMINGO CHURCH was built in 1812 under the supervision of the Dominican friars. It is one of the first limestone buildings to be built under the Spanish regime. The convent beside the church was built in 1814. Buildings in Batanes are traditionally two storey LIME AND STONE HOUSES AND CHURCHES with meter-thick cogon roofs believe to last about 60 years. These buildings were built around 1795 with the help  of imported masons, stone cutters and carpenters from Cagayan.

06. NAIDI HILLS is walking distance from Basco proper.

07. VALUGAN BAY has a kilometer long stretch of fine white beach with multi-colored rocks and is only three kilometers from Basco proper.

08. FUNDACION ABAD or PACITA ABAD MUSEUM - home of the world renowned artist Pacita Barsana Abad is now open for publc viewing, it houses her paintings located at Brgy. Chamarian-Tukon. It is a Pension House with de luxe facilities.


01. SAN CARLOS BORROMEO CHURCH  was completed in 1789 and still retains its centuries old features. It has been declared  by the National Historical  Institute as  Heritage Site

02. CHAWA CAVE is for the adventurous. An enchanted cave with natural salt beds whose mouth opens to the South China Sea and is accessible through the boulders of Chawa Point. It is four kilometers from Basco.

03. SITIO JURA AT RACUJAIDE is the Fishermen’s Village in Mahatao located along the Mananoy bay. Within the area is the legendary spring of  youth and crystal cave with living limestone formations and RACUJAIDI old settlements.

04. DIATAY BEACH is a cave with multi-colored rocks and white sand located along the highway of Mahatao conducive for swimming and excursions.

05. COMMUNAL PASTURE LAND is 25 minutes on good road from Basco. Also called RACUH A PAYAMAN, it offers a panoramic view of the hills and the sea; in this area, the cows outnumber the people.

06. WIND TURBINE FARM SYSTEM - installed at Mt. Sumhao in Mahatao was launched on August 7, 2004. It is the first commercialy operated hybrid system in the Philippines. The three units of 60-kilowatt wind turbines complement the diesel generator system that Batan Island is using.


01. RADIWAN POINT and IVANA SEAPORT are  historical spots where the Katipuneros landed in 1898. It is also the ferry station of falowas plying the islands of Sabtang and Itbayat.

02. SAN JOSE CHURCH was built in 1814. It has a crenellated fortress-like campanile. The church faces the Ivana Seaport where an Honesty Shop is open for buyers who get their goods and leave their money on a wooden box.

03. MT. MATAREM is an extinct volcano 495 meters at its summit.

04. WHITE BEACH at Vatang, Hapnit and Mavatuy Points.


is one of the oldest  houses in Ivana open to visitors who sign the guest book and give donations and take pictures.


01. RUINS OF SONGSONG is a ghost barangay, which feature a cluster of roofless shells of old houses abandoned after the tidal wave that hit the island of Batan in the 50’s and is a one hour road trip from Basco. It has a good stretch of beach recommended for swimming.

02. OLD LORAN STATION used to house a US Coast Guard detachment for almost two decades and is only 45 minutes from Basco on good roads.


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