Love it. Got it! Rogers (yes, with an S) is such an adorable tour guide. We had him for 4 days and there was simply no chance of any mind-numbing boredom with this Ivatan. Before this trip, I only have 2 personal friends who are Ivatans. Rogers makes 3. Dan, his assistant, makes 4.

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Rogers With An “S”. That’s what he’s called!

 

 

Rogers loves punctuating his statements with “Got it?” that we all too soon adopted it as the group’s tag line. When anyone asks anything even vaguely hinting of a complaint (like why can’t we buy coconut crabs to take home?), Rogers is quick to plead to spare him of any misdirected protest (“Please don’t get mad at me…..”) and accordingly ends his statement with “I love you”. Once, there was this Caucasian who approached him and I overheard Rogers bidding him farewell and the perfunctory “I love you, Sir”. I waited for the man’s reaction, but he must have gotten used to Rogers (as we were, after only 24 hours) that the mechanical endearment was accepted without much fanfare.

 

 

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And that’s Rogers’ able assistant……..DAN. No “S”

 

 

His assistant, Dan — that’s Dan in green shirt atop the jeepney! — is just as gracious but not given to the same endearments. I’d give him a few years before saying “I love you’s” without blushing. ๐Ÿ˜‰ Much like Rogers, Dan is quite adept with cameras too. SLRs, P&S, iPhone or iPad cams. I learned they also serve as guides in many Photo Safaris and Photography Workshops conducted in Batanes. Rogers said they learned by listening to the lectures and simply watching the pros. No wonder they know the best angles and photo spots.

 

 

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Welcome to Batanes….. sung by these friendly Ivatan students.

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Choir of the San Carlos Borromeo Church in Mahatao singing ” We Welcome You to Batanes”. So heartwarming!

 

 

 

 

 

When we visited the San Carlos Borromeo Church in Mahatao, we spotted the Parish Priest standing by the 2nd floor window. He came down to welcome us just as the church choir sang a Welcome to Batanes song for us. Just as beautiful was the song number by Ivatan students who sang for us after our dinner at the Lighthouse overlooking Basco Bay. So heartwarming!

 

 

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The hardworking Ivatans in action. Sabtang Port.

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The Old Man and His Carabao. Sabtang Island, Batanes, Philippines.

 

 

Being in Batanes and with these hospitable Ivatans is a refreshing experience. From the hardworking men at the Sabtang Port to the old man with his carabao to the old lady by the road. Some of us even borrowed bicycles from smiling children who took our hands to touch their foreheads as a show of respect. It’s nice to be OLD here in Batanes where respect for elders is still fashionable!

 

 

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Buko or Young Coconuts For Sale.

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The Old Ivatan lady by the road. Sabtang Island, Batanes. Philippines.

 

 

Some skeptics think Honesty Cafe is really just all-hype. This untended store allows you to take whatever you like and simply deposit your payment in a box. Nothing can be simpler than that. I would love to retell this story to such skeptics about how one of us lost his room key, cell phone and eyeglasses in Rakuh a Payaman a.k.a. Marlboro Country. We already boarded our jeepney, well on our way to another destination, when my friend missed his stuff. Our Tour Guide Rogers directed his assistant Dan to take over while he mounted a bike to motor back to Marlboro Country. No luck. After all it was near sunset by then, so Rogers summoned some of his friends to continue the search as we were leaving early the next morning. No high hopes they’d be found.

 

 

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You make the Ivatans proud. And so with the rest of the Filipinos. Batanes. Philippines.

 

 

Hey, skeptics. See that photo above? Between Rogers and my friend Tony is this fine young Ivatan lad who found Tony’s cellphone, eyeglasses and room key. He motored all the way from Rakuh a Payaman to the airport where we were getting ready to board for our homeward flight. He was in a hurry to leave after returning Tony’s stuff that Rogers had to hold him for this posterity shot. Makes us all admire this young Ivatan, but truly, we weren’t surprised at all about Ivatan honesty and admirable character. How about you? Were you surprised? Love it? Got it?