HELLO DECEMBER! My, my, how time flies! Before you know it, we'd have to write our annual year-end feature! And for sure one of the things that will come out of that is our new found love for Batanes which we've featured several times this 2013. And here we are again with another feature on this majestic, memorable place. The bride already wrote a beautiful and inspiring story about their wedding so here it is!
My Dream Wedding is a Logistical Nightmare:
An Ode to Batanes by Cha
My heart knew it before my mind did. Even before my fiancé proposed, I knew I wanted to get married in Batanes.
There are obvious reasons, of course. The sprawling hills, the regal lighthouses, the vast and timeless oceans. It is a postcard-perfect photographer’s paradise. The moment you land on its beautiful little stone airport, the first to welcome you is majestic Mount Irayat – tall, proud and ringed with clouds, come to life from a fairy tale. It is like a veil has lifted and you are filled with wonder again. Wonder is hard to come by in this day and age.
More than that, this little piece of paradise – like many places in the Philippines – only proves you that you do not have to go very far to be somewhere that will take your breath away.
Besides, the Ivatans will steal your heart. Despite their simple lifestyle, no one seems to be living in abject poverty and misery. They labor and love at a slower cadence than what I am used to in hectic Manila. The Ivatans are fluent in their own dialect, in Tagalog, and in English. Local artists are nurtured and showcase Filipino talent with that distinct Ivatan flair. The locals are proud of their hometown and history, welcome visitors warmly, and yet are protective of their land. Non-Ivatan, or Ipula, cannot own property here. Children run up to you grinning, saying “hi, what’s your name?” without fear of harm or rebuke. Strangers nod and smile at you on the street. There is zero percent crime rate. Police roving the streets do not even carry firearms. Even the animals are happy – dogs sprawl lazily on top of parked vehicles, free-ranging cows dawdle on the hilltops, chickens that leave their home come back eventually.
These days, when you are a Filipino, it is so easy to fall prey to despair, negativity and cynicism – especially if you have to deal with pollution, heavy traffic, crime, corruption and garden variety bad news on a daily basis. This place is a little ray that shows how the Philippines can shine – if we just try a little harder, and look beyond ourselves.
A few years ago, when Marco said he wanted to go to this little group of islands in the northernmost part of the country, I was hesitant. I thought it was a lonely, desolate place. It seemed like there was nothing to do except climb hills filled with cow dung. When we got there, I was partially right, and absolutely wrong. The hills were indeed filled with poop, and there really isn’t much to do except feast your eyes on the surreal scenery and drink in as much fresh air as you can. Needless to say, I never loved being proven so wrong.
This is becoming a hallmark of our relationship: Marco wanting to take me somewhere or do something I am not inclined to do. Then I end up having the time of my life. How did I ever get so lucky – that I am blessed to have a lifetime of this?
The magic of Batanes, for me personally, is that it made me fall in love with my country again. It made me see how wonderful and diverse Filipinos can be. More importantly, it made me fall in love with my husband-to-be again.
It is a place I want my family and good friends to experience. It is a place I would want my future children to see. It is a place that reminds me that there are still so many places out there to be explored.
But do not be fooled. Planning this is a lot of hard work. It entailed (and will probably entail even more) gnashing of teeth, pulling of hairs and shedding of tears. We only have one shot (due to time and budget constraints) of flying there before the wedding to have our ocular and meetings and food tasting. We were constantly at the mercy of the whimsical weather. We have to give up so many items that are too bulky or too expensive to fly there. Flights do not come cheaply, and we have to burden our families and friends to take leaves and spend more than they should just to attend a wedding.
Still, for us, there is no other place to get married. No trouble in the world is worth more than getting this one chance to exchange vows in the one place that you’ve always dreamed of, with the one person you want to spend your life with.
We wish you all the best Cha & Marco! And when the planning gets tough, always remember to just have fun and go with the flow! :)