You want to experience the Ivatan way of life, in a fishing village? You can have your most unforgettable experience. Live it at Diura fishing village in Mahatao, Batanes, either only overnight or perhaps a few days. You can stay at Monica’s Cottage in Diura. Here are some of what you will see and experience.
Monica’s Cottage is a traditional Ivatan house made of cogon grass (both roof and side walls).
The bedroom at Monica’s is a vast improvement of the traditional bedroom, which is simply a larger house where you sleep on pandan mats spread over wooden floors.
The kitchen area is usually where you find the traditional Ivatan stove, comprised of three rocks in triangular arrangement, and uses firewood. This kind of stove is thermally inefficient. Today, more and more Ivatans use LPG burners and fuel. In the traditional system, however, Ivatans usually store firewood above the stove to keep the wood ready for use, and warm and dry, especially during rainy days.
These are glazed clay jars used to
age cane juice wine called palek (basi in Ilocano). After a year of aging, usually at the back of the stove where it is warm and dry, the palek turns into dark wine. It tastes very good, like the aged basi of La Union.
This is the traditional corn grinder. It’s made of hard limestone. On top of the stone is a hole where you put in the corn, then you turn the grinder counter-clock wise to grind the corn. You grind the corn only when it is dry, otherwise it sticks to the stone grinder.
At Diura, this is how your neighborhood looks like. There is a village hall, which is really a place with benches and cogon roof, where villagers gather in the evenings to discuss issues they are interested in.
This village church is where all of the residents of Diura hear mass every Sunday morning. If one misses hearing Sunday mass, everybody knows about it. Everybody knows one another in the village. It’s common that members of the community are blood relatives as well.
Since there are not many interesting events in the village at any time of the day, you can spend some time on the beach, only a few steps away, trying to explain why the Pacific Ocean looks the way it does. For older visitors, they might recall Brenda Lee’s song in the 60’s titled End of the World … why does the sea rush to shore? Could be an interesting philosophical discussion.
You may not have experienced this yet, but you can eat the flesh of a ripen almond nut, called by Ivatans savidug. After eating the flesh of the ripen fruit, crack the nut open and eat the nut – presto, you just had your almond nut. This tree thrives in places near beaches in Batanes.
These are tataya, or fishing boats usually about 3-4 meters. This is what fishermen use when they go out to sea to catch arayu (dorado). Imagine a fisherman, all by himself, going from 100 to 200 kilometers out to sea just to catch dorado using hook and line. When lucky, he might bring home three or more fish catch. When one is not lucky, he would come home with one or no catch at all. The fisherman in Diura, as in any other place in Batanes, is called “mataw” and the fishing season lasts for three months from March to May. The fishermen still go through their traditional practice known as “mayvanuvanua,” which means the head fisherman has to seek permission from the sea to catch arayu and not suffer any accidents while at sea. Oh, I just made that up, but this fishing tradition has a complete story by itself. I would like to relate that story some time.