these abundant skies

Beauty begets beauty because when we see it we must share it. Tim Keller

Hello Batanes! 162 km north of Luzon and about 190 kilometers south of Taiwan,in between vast expanse of waters where the Pacific Ocean merges with the China Sea
By God's grace, I have seen some amazing, unforgettable places in my lifetime. I have traveled to cities and countries I only read about in books. Eaten food  at places with Michelin stars and Zagat approvals. Drank coffee al fresco in cafes next door to famed sights like the Louvre and the Capitol Building and in Pike Market one chilly July morning. By the grace of God I  have explored the worlds of Picasso, Monet and the Impressionists, Warhol, Van Gogh and Michelangelo and loved every minute gazing and marveling at their amazing works. I have swam with whale sharks, walked on ancient bridges and historic streets and climbed mountains with amazing views of what lies below and I have been introduced to places I have not even heard of until my feet stepped on it.

 But Batanes has left me breathless.

Lighthouse. Hills. Vast Channels. Cows: Nothing here below is profane for those who know how to see--Pierre Teilhard De Chardin

The northernmost province of my country has no vibrant rhythm to its daily routine. No poignant or dramatic history to speak of. It neither has diverse sophisticated food  to offer  nor  art abounding corners and museums like Paris or Florence or Seattle or Venice. No hustle or bustle of city life can be found there and definitely no crazy party night scene that Manila, New York or Boracay offers.

What it has is stunning natural beauty that takes one's breath away. What it has is simplicity, an authenticity that is so very rare in  this world we breathe air in.  

O, God of wonder, enlarge my capacity to be amazed at what is amazing, and end my attraction to the insignificant---John Piper

It is unapolegetic for its temperament 

A hard downpour  and the windy condition did not stop us from conquering what is famously called Marlboro Hills

What it offers is its raw self filled with green earth and deep blue waters.  

It is content to stay pure.


Boracay like shores without the commercial stalls
The famous Fundacion Pacita, a legacy of an Ivatan artist

Valugan Boulder Beach in Batan North Island  offers huge stones, evidence of a powerful volcanic eruption ages ago

Seeing such beauty makes creationism make much sense: everything that naturally exist is brought about by the intelligent design of a creative, fun, bold, purposeful, colorful and wise Creator.

"O my God, if thy Creations are so full of beauty, delight and joy, how infinitely more full of beauty, delight and joy are Thou Thyself creator of all!" Nicodemus of the Holy Mountain
A sea lane between the Philippines and Japan, Taiwan, Hongkong and China, lighthouses are part of its post card perfect landscape

So are churches with dramatic back drops

And old bridges

Serendipity: meeting this engaged playful, well traveled couple 
Going there is like falling in love- it is dangerous  and risky. Your plane may not land or  you risk being stranded…. and don't get me talking about steep slippery hills to climb. Or the possibility that your ferry ride becomes a rescue boat albeit the mighty waves tossing it as if it were a paper boat...

Stranded in Paradise! I celebrated Christmas Eve for the first time away from family  and technology due to flight cancellation…it was a good way to reflect on what matters most.

Stranded and unpredictable weather notwithstanding, it is all worth it and  there is this feeling that stirs your soul  to linger…

I now know what breathtakingly beautiful looks like.

Be still  for longer... 

Sabtang is the southernmost island municipality of the Batanes island group abounding with Hawaii like vegetation and white sand beaches below.
Be disconnected  and undistracted for a few more minutes...

1 of its famous stone churches and the Honesty Coffee Shop!

Running around with abandonment and freedom!

Where traffic jams are unheard of

a typical Ivatan stone house in Sabtang island

Unlike kids in other parts of the country, Ivatan kids are camera shy
Be innocent. Again.
With the powers of persuasion, one looked just up in time :) 

Be carefree; 
child-like for a few more hours.
Kriza, my travel buddy, is a selfie expert but I went home not knowing how to perfectly take one...
except for this one...
…and this :) 
Hills and mountains merge in a majestic landscape!

If you can brave the huge waves and  a 4o minute ferry, Sabtang Island will offer you streets of  stone houses

...and rolling hills. I felt like I was in the set of Lost!

Be  unreserved and calm. Again.
Never took so many jump shots in any of my trips as I did in Batanes!
Keep calm and pose on :)  

It was so much fun to travel with someone who has no plans :) 

Be your natural self, stripped away of the pretenses that worldiness imposes

“I have found out that there ain't no surer way to find out whether you like people or hate them than to travel with them.” Tom Sawyer Abroad, Mark Twain

Be intentional about relationships. 
Be in meaningful conversations even with strangers... 
Party of  5 (including Kuya Manny, our wonderful tour guide and amazing photographer:) 
The customary picture with an Ivatan at work, yes, lola is carrying something on her back!
On the last day of the tour, all of us know how to pose for the selfie :) 

…in these abundant skies.

Now this was A road trip of a lifetime!

I breathe air in...

All I have seen teaches me to trust the Creator for all I have not seen---Ralph Waldo Emerson

….exhale deeply. 

And long for heaven now
 more than ever.

So fill up your lungs and just run. But always be chasing the sun!

Eucharisteo is how Jesus shows us how to fully live – take all as grace, give thanks for all, and all transforms into joy. Eucharisteo! Ann Voskamp, One Thousand Gifts: A Dare To Live Fully Where You Are

Banoy and Armin's picture perfect camera :) 

My photographers L-R: K. Manny, Banoy, Armin and coach K  

Samson, my iPhone 5, at work and yours truly for art direction :)


  1. I thought that the pic of smooth stones was a macro shot, until I saw a version of you in it (! You look like Thumbelina here. Absolutely love it! :-)

  2. Haaaay. Such beauty! Praise God. Ang ganda, Ate Liw. Ramdam ko ang lakas ng hangin. Haha.

  3. wonderful experience! love d dresses liw. bagay sa lugar, parang ang lamig lang.

  4. Kapag na sstress ako, ang sarap balikan nito :) And the song. To Itbayat and beyond! :-P

    Profound - “I have found out that there ain't no surer way to find out whether you like people or hate them than to travel with them.” Tom Sawyer Abroad, Mark Twain -


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