Batanes is like walking into a dream but you are wide awake and the experience is both so real and surreal.
This is about the journey I made with my friends in May 2011 which memory lingers, and whenever it crosses my mind I long to step into that dream-like moment and take pleasure in it once more.
It is an adventure of a lifetime, an ultimate travel destination in the remote island of northern Philippines that remains hardly reachable up until the present time due to limited flights available and severe weather conditions for most parts of the year. Although my experience is already quite old, I still choose to write about it with a hope that it finds its way to those who are wishing to visit this place. However, this is not an entry about my whole Batanes adventure — this is solely about a piece of heaven on earth that goes by the name of Fundacion Pacita.
Fundacion Pacita is a house made of stone that sits on the edge of a hill against the backdrop of an ocean meeting the sky, just like a scene in a painting. It is a boutique hotel that was once the home studio of the acclaimed Filipina artist Pacita Abad. It is found on the hills of Tukon, in the midst of the vast rolling greens of graze land and hedgerows and boundless blue of the Pacific Ocean.
Fundacion Pacita is a social enterprise, which proceeds are used to fund chosen arts, tourism, and education projects in the island of Batanes. What makes staying in this place most worthwhile is the thought that a part of the amount you pay for the accommodation supports a cause.
The lobby-cum-dining area is in itself a gallery of Pacita Abad’s works. Every corner of the room immortalizes the aesthetically vivacious life of Pacita. Imagine what a joy it is to partake of your morning meal in this space, enveloped by its calm and artsy ambiance or to sip a cup of freshly brewed coffee while you bask in the soothing blue stretched before you.
I wished that those wonderful moments would never come to an end. If only I could tie a hammock to both ends of those moments and lie down on it in my most comfortable position, I would never pass up the chance, every single second of it. If there were no interesting spots to see in Batanes but this, I would still say that it would be worth the trip and the money spent because this place alone had so much to give to the wandering soul who was seeking some peace and quiet. I am speaking to those whose purpose of travel is to rest, relax, and rejuvenate.
Batanes is a group of islands so tranquil and teeming with beauty of nature, and the best way to enjoy the spectacle that presents itself as far as your eyes can see is to be still, be in awe, and be thankful of the overwhelming comeliness that you are blessed to relish right at that moment that you are there.
Fundacion Pacita is the premier accommodation in the whole of Batanes. It is yet unrivaled in any way. You don’t ask why, because you have to experience it at its best for you to know. Its physical appearance alone speaks volumes of the kind of experience that it can offer.
I and my two friends were roomed at the Family Terrace Suite. It was equipped with mattresses, sheets and pillows that were at par with those of the luxury hotels and a split-type air conditioner. Despite the weather getting typically cold at sundown, the wind would also become extremely strong it could topple you down or blow you away. So windows should be tightly shut, and the air conditioner turned on.
The side of the wall facing the ocean was a huge glass with a sliding panel, so we got a breathtaking view of the ocean. The room, especially the bathroom, was squeaky clean and some of the toiletries were of the eco-friendly kind. I remember that the shampoo and shower gel provided were sourced from a Philippine eco-brand called Human Nature. Overall, I was impressed. More so with the view deck or terrace adorned with the hotel’s signature blue bench chairs and table. I had a grand time at the view deck drinking French pressed coffee and exchanging ideas and funny anecdotes with my cherished friends.
You don’t set your expectations too high on the food that you get to be served. You are on an island, and what is served on the table depends on the catch of the day or the available ingredients that are mostly flown from mainland Luzon.
As much as I can remember, the breakfasts I had were far from the best but were all delightful. We had a full itinerary that we were always out all day hopping from one tourist spot to another, so we only reserved one night of dinner and revelry at Fundacion Pacita. The food was not that remarkable but the experience was, because it was with the best people that I was blessed to be with in the entire trip. The food may have not left a lasting impression but the stories and laughter shared did, and the thought that the food that was laid on the table that night was lovingly prepared by gentle hands who were working for a cause.
Thank you, Pacita, for leaving a legacy that is Fundacion Pacita. You gave us an extraordinary experience that we will never forget. We will be back.