Draft 19 May 2009
Batanes: Sites, Communities, Human‐Ecological challenges1
MJ Paluga (UP Mindanao)
The Province of Batanes is the northernmost part of the Philippines,
comprising ten officially named islands, namely (from north to
south): Mavudis, Misanga, Tarem, Siayan, Itbayat, Dinem, Batan,
Sabtang, Vuhus, and Adekey islands. (As in any areas there are local
and usage variations in the name and spelling of many Batanes
places.) Of these, only the top three biggest islands are inhabited at
present (Itbayat, Batan, and Sabtang).
Straddling midway between Taiwan (and mainland Asia) and the
Philippines, the seascapes and
landscapes of Batanes figure
prominently in linking physically and culturally these otherwise
1 Geographic and anthropological briefing submitted for the API Regional Project (Batanes) Working Group, 19 May
2009. Ethnographic and field‐site data are taken from the API scoping mission conducted last March 29 to April 5,
2009. All ground photos are taken by MJ Paluga.
Draft 19 May 2009
The seascapes between Taiwan and the Philippines are layered by three sea channels: the Bashi,
Balintang, and Babuyan channels.
Situated between Bashi and Balintang channels, the Batanes group of islands served as a critical link in the
bidirectional prehistoric migrations between mainland Asia and the Philippines (diasporic movements
from Batan Island upwards to Taiwan and downwards to the Babuyan Islands).
Such prehistoric links and movements of peoples across these channel areas of South China and Philippine
seas explain the very close cultural and linguistic similarities among indigenous groups of Babuyan Islands,
Batanes Islands and Taiwan (Formosa).
Linguistically, the indigenous inhabitants of Batanes are speakers of the Ivatan language, which divides