How I got to be known as the Hero of Sabtang.

Taken with the Ricoh, photo before we left Batan and when we arrived in Sabtang.

“Ang tubig! Ang tubig! Mamatay ang makina!” was the frantic call by our boat’s captain. “Manong balik na lang tayo!” said our event coordinator. “Lumulubog tayo!” I heard a fellow passenger shout. “Kahoy po ito hindi tayo lulubog.”, reassured our tour guide but his facial expression betrayed what he just said.

Flashback 20 minutes earlier when I started to get that sinking feeling that all was not right. We just ended our tour of Sabtang island, one of the big islands of Batanes. The sea was rough, that is to be expected as Batanes is right smack where the Pacific Ocean and the South China Sea meet. Because of the waves, the boat’s crew was finding it difficult to turn the boat to face the sea. It also seemed that there was a problem with the rudder as the boat captain ordered one of his crew to dive and have a look see. On our first attempt, one of the port hands released the rope early and we stopped halfway, parallel to the waves. A medium wave hit us which caused a few of those seated on the side to stumble. In all this the captain was barking out orders in Ivatan which made it difficult to gauge if this was a cause for concern. The captain decided to return to our previous position and had the diver swim back to port to tie the rope. The second try was as difficult as the first but the boat managed to make the turn.

Mimi, Joey and AJ were seated at the back of the boat while I was seated on the side next to Mimi. I was facing Mimi looking to see if she was alright when I saw fear in their eyes. I could see in my peripheral vision a wall of water approaching the front and I could feel the boat lift up to the wave. I remember I grabbed on the railing and curled up in a fetal position. As Mimi saw it, the boat rode the first wave but there was a second wave just as big and this time the boat rammed smacked towards that wave. In hindsight if this was the wave that hit us while we were just turning, we’d have capsized for sure.

When I looked up, the hull was a third filled with water. There was steam coming from the engine and what seemed like a water fountain, you know the one you saw in old cartoons which signaled a hole in the boat.

That’s when the captain shouted “Ang tubig! Ang tubig! Mamatay ang makina!”. Mimi saw a pail and gave it to me. I was still shocked and I knew I should be bailing out water with that pail but I only managed to scoop up probably around 200ml of water which Joey and Markku said was more like 10ml. Hahaha. But like Markku said… it was the first 200ml! One of the boatmen took over; but the thing is, in his confusion he threw the pail overboard! It would have been hilarious any other time but I was already thinking of what to do next if the boat sank.

They say your first visit to Batanes is spiritual and we have to definitely agree! Was it worth it? Yes absolutely! Batanes is bea-u-ti-ful! And the people we were with was an extra bonus. It was nice to share this experience with these guys.

Despite our scare I’d recommend Batanes as a must place to visit. Here are the reasons in photographs.

Mimi’s Bicycle series.



Markku and Hana at the Rolling Hills.

The lone bull.

Basco Lighthouse

Ricoh photo 1

Ricoh photo 2

It was Baguio cold in Batanes and the wind was relentless.


View from the Marlboro Country.

Ruins in the Ghost Village.

Ivatan Lola.

Sunset in Basco.

Time to go home.

Sabtang Lighthouse



Sabtang can definitely be a stand-in for the island in Lost the TV series!

Hana the giant.



His and Hers…

Mimi’s version

Karl’s version

We would like to thank Epson Philippines and Geiser-Maclang team for the wonderful opportunity and for the printer Mimi won in the photo essay contest. Also please visit the Batanes blog entries of our travelmates: Markku, Joey, AJ, Juned, Ferdz,
Eric, Rain, Jayvee