Bata Batanes

APPARENTLY, Juan who is from Batanes will really show when in Batanes. I may not know much about Batanes, even before getting there, I was not sure until the day what to expect. All I would know was that I had had some friends get stuck because of the weather. And that was it.

I would also know that just like Baguio they were very much used to having inclement weather for even a number of days, sometimes weeks. Monsoons was normal then and there till now. Storms nothing.

Another was, like Baguio, and which I would like to highlight now was that every Juan knew every Juan. On our last day we were hosted by friends from DepEd, actually scouts they were. An immediate tour they did for us in the southern part of the island. Even though they did have work to do. I knew they were busy and they would always apologize. It was fine.

I realized that where ever we went there was a guard, some payment has to be made somehow. But with any Juan from DepEd it seems that it is all access and free. I know it's not very much but it seems every Juan recognizes them to be. Funny how they would relate that certain person would be, surely a former student of theirs.

It does so seem that like I would, I can recognize until today who my students are. A lot of them are now successful in their own endeavors but still they would know me as their teacher. I am proud of course. It is also the same in Batanes.

Our new found friends would even relate about a student of theirs a young boy who will be running for Congress against the former Secretary, an Abad in Batanes. Wow. Almost similar to what goes on here in Baguio except that this time I am the Baguio boy, just saying.

Back to Batanes, I find that when traveling to the islands, a fee of 350 pesos per person is to be paid just to set foot in the islands. No exceptions. Except of course if Juan is DepEd or its personnel, locals and their family but it has to be proven, married to a local would do too and if you wish to just get there for free, a medical or dental mission or donation to the schools there. In fact rubber slippers is what they would want.

Just like in Sagada, doing business is strictly for locals. Purchase of property is exclusive for locals only. Very much the same there too. How I wish it was still the same with Baguio too. I will remember how the locals would know every Juan and do business with a local too. Purchase of property would have also been nice if priority was given to locals too. Show of proof a must. Well I can still dream.

Funny but I do not own any property in Baguio of my own. Believe it or not. I have a small home I call my own and it's in a compound and not a detached piece of real estate. That's it. I would recall how, when a demolition order was issued, I would always relate how I wished I could just claim my own land being the Mayor if I just wanted to. But I would never do that. Legally, I couldn't afford it also if ever. I tried to apply for a very small piece of public land for a right of way to my mom's property but it was never awarded to me. That would have been my first a long long time ago. Never happened after.

Anyway I will continue to learn a lot more from the people of Batanes. It seems every Juan including the Mayor or any other officer will be a farmer or a fisherman. Believe it or not, titles are nothing in the island. It seems if you wanted to eat, you farm or fish and that was what every Juan would do. They will work in an office but after work they will be back as who they are. Their title is just a second job.

Everything is simple in the island. Surely every Juan will live longer than us in the big city. A driver we had said that if we didn't book him he would be picking up cow manure for his vegetable plot. Everything there is organic.

Everything there is expensive, all because money is just an amount for measurement. I was told how they would trade with some foreign fishermen who love our coconut. Yes it seems they love it so much and that they would trade with a flashlight just for it. Cost is just cost. If you want you pay, if not they just don't care. I like it.

Every Juan will smile and greet you. Well because they don't know you that's why. In some restaurants you just pay for what you feel it's worth. Fruits and vegetables that are extra are left in an area for Juan to get, just pay what you want for it. In Baguio a long time ago sayote, tops and kangkong can be had by just picking it up or asking your neighbor. Same there. Now everything has a price.

While I know that it is not advisable, but in my own compound where I know every Juan, I don't lock my cars. Yes. Nothing has ever happened. I love where I live. Every Juan watches out for me and my property.

Perfect. In the island all doors are left open, all motorcycles or scooters will have the keys in them. No Juan dares touch them even for any reason.

To be continued.

As tourists we are advised to just take pictures and leave memories. In fact taking away some stones or shells will be confiscated. And they will tell on you for this. We found a Pizza Hut there, yes pizza in a hut. They even deliver.

They are a very thankful bunch, so satisfied with what life brings. No complaints about the weather or anything. Food never a problem. The teacher who drove for us would after work or before it, go spear fishing. How I would love to be in their shoes. The waters to them are always calm.

The last night we were hosted in a Karaoke Bar. I know what you're thinking of, I thought the same. Apparently it's the only place open at night to have some fun. We were with principals and they knew every Juan there. Even the pretty ground staff of an airline was there in one table then later all tables were filled with their students from some time ago.

Food in the table freshly caught by them too.

Whenever I get to see my teachers or now my students I will always remember. I get nostalgic to the days when life was this simple. How I wish it still is. I walk to work or to my meetings. I meet people along the way, some chitchat and that's life. I wish I was a child again living in those times.


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