Natural Stone Houses in Chavayan Village
Sabtang Island, Philippines
Natural Stone Houses in Chavayan Village Sabtang Island Reviews
The “Obra-Maestra” of Batanes Island… Jun 22, 2012
Walking through the tiny villages of traditional stone houses and quiet narrow streets of Savidug and Chavayan in Sabtang Island will make you feel like being flown to another country or to a place where time just stood still.
The best area to visit if you want to see an authentic vernacular or stone houses is in a small village called Chavayan, which is in Sabtang Island.
Getting There: Take a 45- minute ride through a fishing boat from Batan, Batanes. PPh 75.00 for boat fare. (You may read the entire account of my visit to Sabtang Island at: http://www.travbuddy.com/travel-blogs/108849/visit-island-Sabtang-3)
Is there a fee to visit the villages? Yes, a minimal amount of less than a hundred pesos to pay at the Municipal Hall of Sabtang.
How do you get around the villages? If you are hiring a tour guide from Basco Batanes, then the tour guide is responsible for arranging your transportation on getting around. I highly suggest you hire one since he/she knows better about the in and out of the places.
The stone houses in Chavayan are currently nominated for the UNESCO World Heritage List. I hope it will be included in the long run. Although, some of the houses are no longer in their original state since some walls are now patched or plastered using modern cement and not powdered limestone anymore. Despite of that, the houses still looks exceptionally stunning with the village nestled between the tall lush mountains and cliffs on one side and a spectacular view of the sea where the churning waters of the South China Sea and the Pacific Ocean meet.
It was also in Chavayan where I met “Lolo” (grandfather) Emilio, Bataneses oldest resident at 100 plus years old still strong and very much alert!
Like most of the houses in the islands, these vernacular houses are normally left unlocked while the home owners leave for the fields to farm or to the oceans to fish.
A tidbit of History:
The Philippines was colonized by the Spaniards for more than 300 years. Before that, the people of Batanes built their small but well-constructed houses mostly from the use of cogon grass. Cogon grass is species of grass, a perennial plant that grows mostly in Asian countries. The basic cogon grass is still being used up to these days as roofs. They are super thickly constructed not only to withstand the strong winds but also to give a cooler atmosphere inside their houses.
When the Spaniards came to the island they introduced a mega production of lime for the construction of their now well most visited stone houses. With meter-thick limestone walls, are also designed to protect the houses against the strong wind blows. Batanes province is known as endless passage of typhoons in the Philippines.
Besides limestone; natural stones and corals were also used as two of the sturdiest building materials for those iconic vernacular houses. Corals are abundant so they make a real good use and are very evident when you look closely at the walls. The limestone is pounded into powder-like texture and then mixed with water to make a paste that will bond the other solid materials together. Constructing a stone house is done in a “bayanihan” style!
“Bayanihan (bah - yah - nee - han) is a Filipino or Tagalog term taken from the word “bayan”, referring to a nation, town or community. The term bayanihan refers to a spirit of communal unity or effort to achieve a particular objective. This good custom is widespread in the Philippines. The Ivatans of Batanes call it kapanyidungan”. By saying that it literally mean all the people in the community are involve in building a house. Some men would gather stones and corals from the seashore, another group of men will work on the constructional materials (thatching cogon grasses, pounding limestone, etc) while another set of men build the foundational structure. The women also volunteer to help – they prepare and cook meals for their men! And the children, they too share in any little way they can. At times they provide entertainment to their parents through games, singing or dancing. So when you look at a particular vernacular house in Batanes try to picture in your mind a beautiful history of community who worked together to form a monument of solidarity.
Most of the photos on this review were edited by no other than Mr. Roger (X-Drive), himself! Thank you, sir Roger!
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