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   BATANES: "THE MARLBORO COUNTRY"
 
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The island of Batanes is in the northernmost waters of the Philippine Archipelago. It actually lies nearer Taiwan than the Philippine mainland, being only 222 kilometers from the tip of Taiwan, and 224 kilometers from Claveria, a town at the north of Cagayan province. It is also nearer Taipei than Manila.

The province of Batanes is composed of 10 small islands, the total of which makes it the smallest province of the Philippines in terms of area and population. To the south of Batanes, across the Balintang Channel are the islands that compose the Babuyan Islands group which politically falls under the jurisdiction of the province of Cagayan. 

During the early years of the Spanish occupation Batanes was completely ignored and enjoyed complete freedom from colonial rule. In 1685 Dominican missionaries arrived and undertook evangelization as well as colonization of the Ibatans, the natives of the place. A century later General Jose Basco explored the area in search of tobacco-growing regions. It is in his honor that Basco, the capital town of Batanes is named.

Towards the end of the Spanish era Batanes was made a part of Cagayan. But during the American regime it again became a separate political unit. During the Pacific war Batanes, because of its geographical location, was among the first areas of the Philippines to be occupied by Japan.

The land area covered by the Prelature of Batanes-Babuyanes is 71,784 square kilometers with a population of 23,995 of which 93 per cent are catholics. There were 54 persons per square kilometer in Batanes when the national average was 122 in the seventies. English spoken by 65 per cent of the population, Pilipino by 55 per cent, Spanish by 5 per cent, but Ilocano is the most prevalent dialect.

Because of frequent typhoons that batter the islands, only small-scale farming and fishing are possible. Root crops, vegetables and fruit trees are common, supplemented by hog and poultry raising. Batanes is completely rural, having been completely bypassed by the upheavals of urbanization. Whether boon or bane, only the inhabitants of Batanes would know. 

 
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MUST-SEE IN BATANES
 
Everywhere in Batanes is a pretty picture. Oddly enough, postcards aren't popular in the northernmost part of the Philippines. But then everyone who visits is prepared with a camera - whether it's a bulky professional SLR or a simple phone camera. It doesn't matter much what youíve got, because Batanes is simply beautiful.
 
Marlboro Hills: The Payaman, also known as Marlboro Country, offers a breathtaking view of farm fields and the Pacific Ocean. The hills got its name because it looks so much like the setting of the commercial of the Marlboro Cigarette.
 
Naidi Hills: This place offers one of the most picturesque sites in the island of Batan, where the first lighthouse of Batanes was built. Naidi affords a unique panoramic view of Baluarte Bay, Basco town, Mount Iraya and the rolling hills of Batan Island. On a clear day, one can view the whole of Batanes from end to end plus the islets beyond Itbayat.
 
House of Dakay: The oldest surviving house in the town of San Jose de Ivana in Batan Island, the largest of the 3 inhabited islands of the Batanes island group that lies off the coast of Northern Luzon in the Philippines. It is a traditional structure with thick walls made of stone and lime and with a roof thatched with cogon grass. Named after the family that owned it, it is known as Vahay ni Dakay in Ivatan. It has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Building.
 
Diura Fishing Village: A tiny village facing the Pacific Ocean around three kilometers east of Mahatao town. Site where local fishermen perform the Kapayvanuvanua ritual to signify the start of the fishing season. The local government maintains a traditional house that it rents to visitors. Perfect site to escape crowded town centers.
 
San Carlos Borromeo Church: Built in 1873 A.D. by Onesimo Polo using limestone for wall and cogon roofing. Declared by the National Museum and the National Commission for Culture and the Arts as one of 26 churches in the Philippines recognized as cultural icons.
 
San Carlos Mahatao: This town holds the Ivatanís birth certificate. First town from Basco. Rich in Cultural Heritage sites & practices.
 
Sumhao Wind Turbines:  You come here not to see windmills. You endure rough roads and an uphill trek to be on the finest spot to relish a 360-degree of Godís magnificent creation. The islandís two highest peaks stand guard on opposite ends. On a clear day, you can view the northernmost islands of Batanes.
 
Dipnaysupuan Japanese Tunnel: Site of an elaborate Japanese-constructed World War II tunnel around three kilometers from town center. 
 
Torongan Cave: The most ancient dwelling place in Batanes. Believed to be the first landing place of the Austronesians from Formosa, 4000 BP.
 
Tukun: Location of the countryís northernmost PAGASA station, reason why Batanes is frequently associated with typhoons because Basco station is usually used as a reference point. It has a spectacular view of Mount Iraya and Basco town with a commanding view of Batan hedgerows. It is the home of endemic flora & fauna. One can view 360į of Batan Island in Tukun. 
 
Song-song Ruins:  What remains of this village wiped out in a 1954 tidal wave are ruins of a once vibrant community. This group of destroyed lime and stone houses is seen a few meters from the beach in Songsong.
 
Nakbuang Beach:  The Ahau Arch, found at Nakbuang Beach, Sabtang Island, one of the most photographed tourist spot here in Batanes.
 
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