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Basco History, Philippines

While numerous spots are being too commercialized, a huge pie of the Philippine’s island jewels has remained untouched and pure. Basco is one pristine spot that has magnetized jet-setters to explore the “Home of the Winds”.

Centuries prior to Spanish colonization, this capital of Batanes province settled in protected areas called Idjangs on top of steep hills. Idjang came from the Ivatan word “Idi” or “Idian” that means hometown. The majority of the Ivatan tribes worked not only as boat-makers but also farmers and fishermen. An English buccaneer William Dampier came to Batanes in 1687 to claim the islands for Britain. There were several attempts undertaken by Dominican missionaries to Christianize the Ivatans but they were unsuccessful. Thus, some missions from Calayan Island in the Babuyan Group came to push the residents to resettle in Babuyanes. The scenario was worse until Philippine Governor General Jose Basco Vargas discovered the tobacco-growing region in 1782. It was Basco who led the Philippines to gain freedom from New Spain (now Mexico); hence, the town was named after him.

Being located on Batan (the second largest island among Batanes Islands), Basco quickly expanded the fishing business after Spanish era. Interesting to note that before the end of that period, Batanes was yet part of Cagayan and later a separate political unit during the American regime. It was among the first areas occupied by the Japanese when the Pacific War took place.

Basco is being surrounded by Bashi Channel, Luzon Strait, Balintang Channel, Pacific Ocean and South China Sea making the town prone to strong winds. Due to historical accounts that insular Ivatans were genuine immigrants from Taiwan and some Spaniards who came in the 16th century, this fifth class municipality has been recognized as the “Home of True Insulares” for that.

At present, people who reside in the entire province are referred to as Ivatans with strong cultural influences from Tao of Taiwan and Spaniards of Spain. You may notice that some of the locals have inherited the strong sense of belongingness and values of self-sufficiency, not to mention the physical features of bearing aquiline nose and almond eyes. A headgear called vakul is famous in Basco; it’s worn by locals to protect them from wind, sun and the rain.

Exporting native hats and other handicrafts has become a strong source of income among residents that reached to 6,717 in 2000. Moreover, families learned to maintain a super quality in garlic and sugarcane production as well.

There’s a single way to experience interacting with genuine people, sighting big winds, and appreciating the purity of Mother Nature—enlist Basco in your itinerary.

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