Monday, February 10, 2014

Traveling the Philippines

I got stymied by typhoon Yolanda. It was hard to write about trips or meals when there was just so much sad news coming from the Visayas--which is the reason for my 2-month hiatus.

Then I saw this in the papers...Bangon Tours! What a great way to help our country.


There are so many beautiful places in the Philippines--and we didn't go on our annual "More Fun in the Philippines" trip last year. Now would be good time to jump start it again.

Two years ago we went white water rafting down the Chico river. I should post about that trip before I forget all the details. Abangan.

I didn't ask about a "Bangon Tour", as this ad suggested, because I like to research and do things on my own. After a few weeks of reading blog and reviews, we're finally booked for Batanes!

 Photo from

A lot of friends who have recently visited Batanes told me Fundacion Pacita is the "only place" to stay. They didn't mean it the literal sense because Batanes has lots of lodges, inns and homestays. But Fundacion is definitely beautiful and wonderfully interior designed--but they were fully booked.

I wasn't deterred because our "More Fun in the Philippines" trips are more about authenticity and not luxury anyway. 

Then I heard about the newly opened Bernard's Hotel, which only has a FB page and not a website. They only have 7 rooms, and they were also full!

So I continued to research and found Rapitan di Vasay, a 3-bedroom house in Basco.

 Looks like a simple, comfortable and tasteful home, devoid of clutter of commercialism.

We have the whole house to ourselves. I just hope the lighting is good--because there's nothing more depressing than dim white bulbs at night.

Actually, this place looks like the Ritz compared to Mama Lily's, which in 1995 (on my one and only trip to Batanes) was literally the *only* place to stay! Even if her place was spartan, it was comfortable and we were warmly hosted by Lily herself. I remember her telling me she had a daughter in the States who would send her bedsheets for the inn. I wonder what happened to Mama Lily's place.

So far, the best part about planning all this has been Yolanda. That's the name of the lady from Rapitan whom I've been emailing about our booking. She's been very responsive and accommodating.  In my experience, when booking online anywhere in the world, if the communication is good from the start, the experience will also be good.

I sure hope so. I also booked our Ivatan guide, a lead given to me by Yolanda.

photo from here

After securing the house, we booked our flights. Only 7 of us got our flights sonline, the other 4 got locked out, panicking us for awhile there.  We went through a travel agency and were able to get 4 other seats on the same flight by paying a bit more. Flights to Batanes are expensive by local standards, and after booking this Batanes flight, I realized that flights to other islands are great deals! I think I'm going to book another local trip.

Meanwhile, I'm looking forward to our fun, authentic Batanes trip--our official MFITP trip for the year.


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