Supertyphoon Meranti and the Forgotten Islands of Batanes

A thunderstorm in Manila is a headline, a flood in taft is news., a typhoon elsewhere is a national concern, but a supertyphoon in Batanes is gone with the wind issue… Our provincial hymn is always true “forlorn country though they say, orphans of the motherland…” But whether Manila would care or not, whether help will come or none, the stone houses of Batanes and its people molded by fierce weather thru the ages will stand strong and proud… Ivatans will bounce back in a matter of days. We are a nation on our own, we have always been…

After 3 days since the onslaught of the Supertyphoon, there was no initiative from the government,. C130 of the military is waiting for a rainbow, until a private aircraft finally decided to conduct an aerial assessment of the farthest island.

 

 

Lamentation

From my great grandfather to my very parents, our Ivatan blood is never pure. But this is not a reason to love the island less. In my heart I’ve always considered and love to call my self as a full-blooded ivatan. I grew up very well ingrained in my heart the strong foundation of Ivatan culture.

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When I was younger, stocked in Itbayat, I thought industrialization and commercialization is what Batanes needs. As a young ambitious  man, I thought Itbayat must develop like any other place, like any other city.

But as I came to see development and its costs my point of view changed radically. I learned to appreciate the unique and seemingly slow life in our province. As Dan Seals in his song rightly describe, “Night life and big cities is alright for awhile, Sure makes you feel good when you’re there, But the country’s so pretty it goes on and on for miles, Takes away my troubles and my cares”. We are so blest that we have the luxury of peace and tranquility which in many places in the world is absent. We have been blest to have the opportunity to find relaxation in the nurturing care of mother nature.

Our province is indeed blest with the splendor of nature’s beauty, it is God’s master piece. I don’t think high rise buildings would make it more beautiful. Neither resorts nor bars would make its beaches or hills look better. I cannot help but hate this people who wish to exploit this pristine and sacred land of the Ivatans, and I cannot condone the betrayal of some ivatan for a few pieces of money.

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I do not understand why are they so willing to sell something that is priceless. I do not understand why some would want to take a small lump sum  income by selling away pieces of the island, an amount they can earn in a short period of time if they keep on protecting the land. Some clamor for rapid development, be at par with the cities, be like boracay or the other major tourist spots… why? There will only be one Boracay, you cant imitate it, but why do we clamor to be like Boracay if we can be uniquely and simply be Batanes.

Batanes is where nature and culture are married. It is in this union that gave birth as well to the uniqueness of the Ivatans. This is who we are, this is what we are.

Ivatan behold the beauty of the land God has given us. Let us keep our hospitality but not to the point of selling away the precious land we have. Let us not be the very person to light the torch of the trailblazers. Let us not trade our valuable treasure. Let us not sell our best spot under the sun.

N.B. First picture not mine: see more at https://www.facebook.com/groups/ivatanphotographers/