Batanes like Orchid Island
Legend has it that the Tao tribe actually moved from Batanes, and that is the reason their language and rituals are similar.
I finally got a chance to visit Batanes.
The vast and magnificent landscapes are quite an experience.
While I have only lived in Manila for four years, I have been told that I have visited more places in the Philippines than most of my Filipino friends (think Cagayan, Vigan City, Coron, Bacolod and Siargao Island).
Batanes is similar to these places in terms of the cultural and social aspects.
But, in terms of natural landscapes and the culture of indigenous people, Batanes actually reminded me of the Orchid Island (Lanyu) of Taiwan.
During my stay, Chamantad-Tinyan Viewpoint in Sabtang Island left the deepest impression on me.
Up the high hills, visitors can see spectacular and stunning array of mountains, and the bays and the Pacific Ocean are just below their feet.
Surrounded by the view of the mountains, the coastline and the ocean is breathtaking. But tourists have to watch out, lest they’ll step on raisin-like excrement of free-range goats around the hills.
For most Taiwanese, it is uncommon to see free-range goats in the countryside; thus, scattered goats are one of the features of the Orchid Island and tourists in Lanyu like to buy souvenirs with goat images or cute goat figurines.
A tour guide in Batan Island told me that, each year before the fishing season starts, fishermen in Batanes hold a ritual for good luck.
Similarly, in Orchid Island, the local Tao tribe holds the Flying Fish Festival each year in February or March to bless the boats, summon the fish and pray for a bountiful catch.
It is an important traditional ceremony and flying fish products and souvenirs are also popular among tourists.
Another similarity between Batanes and Lanyu is the language.
The tour guide told me that he met visitors from Orchid Island and, when he spoke in Ivatan (the dialect in Batanes) and the visitors talked in Tao dialect, they could understand each other 50 percent.
Legend has it that the Tao tribe actually moved from Batanes and that is the reason their language and rituals are similar.
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