This is a journal of my first trip to the beauty that is Batanes.
I remember the cold air in the small aircraft where I alighted from fogging up my camera’s lens. I tried shooting into the sun and I realized that I had to quickly wipe away the condensation that it left on my glass. I remember looking at an airstrip and seeing nothing but greenery and a proud mountain towering above the landscape–greeting me with a crown of clouds.
I remember not being pre-booked into any hotel, being greeted personally by the owner and being welcomed into an orange-hued room and realizing that I had gone on this trip with no one else but Providence beside me.
I remember the name of my guide: “Jacklord Labrador”. Don’t worry, I laughed too–in my head, of course. He was the kindest man and he knew the history of Batanes. He was a certified tour guide who had to go to school and read up on history lessons regarding the humble island that he had guarded for a good number of years now.
I remember being a motorcycle passenger, holding on for dear life with a wide-angle lens in tow–asking my faithful guide to stop every now and then so I could take home a memory that rivaled the best of wallpapers that any digital artist could craft.
I remember the goats, lazily lounging at a steep angle while grazing on a choice patch of grass. No fear.
I remember how trusting people could become. That Honesty store was a highlight in and of itself. If it had a CCTV camera inside, it would have probably been unplugged.
I remember mountain after mountain, series of clouds, the lovely gradients that my eye saw across changing sceneries and landscapes. It was simply too much to take in. I had to pause, get down from my mode of transportation and just steal memory after memory.
I saw a beach littered with boulders instead of sand. Impossible, you would say. But it stretched as far as my eye could see and the mighty rocks only met the ocean’s unforgiving waves…and all I could do was stand and photograph the majesty in front of me.
I remember the night sky bidding me goodnight as the crescent moon hung itself along with a lonely star, trying its best to stick to her. The ghostly sea, desperately grazed the seashore and the immovable rocks that had planted themselves from long ago. I remember the different hues of the color blue: turquoise, aqua, prussian, cerulean and sapphire.
I remember meeting adventurers on my second day. Brave souls who also wanted what all of us want at some point in our lives–a spur-of-the-moment trip, an I-don’t-care-attitude…the thrill of the unplanned and the unknown.
I remember discovering that vegetables and boiled fish can help bring you to old age–with no need for glasses and no hearing problems, the second oldest person in Batanes had outlived the word “centennial” and still had the strength to make straw hats whenever he felt like it.
I remember swimming in the South China Sea…and knowing about it only after our guide pointed it out as we grabbed our towels.
I remember so many things and I realized that memories are powerful. I realize that photographs are powerful. They do more than store memories. The ones that are most memorable…the ones that are most powerful…are the ones that move hearts.
The photographs that you see here chronicle an important time in my life…one in which I was wrestling with God to tell me what I should do with a very significant decision in my life. I had prayed with nothing but silence as my only reply. And one day, I booked a flight to one of my dream destinations in the world and I decided that I would take no one with me. What I had not realized was that it was here where my faith would be given an answer and provide me a promise that would level my proud and unbelieving heart.
Months ago I asked for a rainbow. And within four months before my first day in Batanes, I had seen one on the television and I had even dreamt of two rainbows in a technicolor dream. Yet I relented in calling it an answered prayer. And as my guide and I were drawing to the final minutes of the day’s tour, it lightly drizzled while we were conquering a steep hill and ever so slightly, my answered prayer started to emerge in front of my eyes…
I saw a rainbow. A real one.
I quickly asked my guide to stop and I wiped the water from the front element of my lens and looked back up. And it was during this time that a miracle looked back. I not only saw one rainbow…not two…not even three rainbows. I saw four! And it was as if God knew I had been waiting for this exact moment.
Should any one of you reach this part in this entry and feel discouraged about an unanswered prayer, there is beauty in waiting. And the beauty lies not in the answer after the wait…the beauty is manifested in a humbled heart…a heart that has learned patience and contentment and trust in the Promise Keeper.
May you always have open eyes to find your own rainbows amidst the rain and the clouds.
This is my story of Batanes. I now invite you to write your own. <3