It was windy all throughout my short stay in Batanes and the condition at Sabtang Island made for an early winter setting. The scenery along the way to the old village of Chavayan was the best I've seen. Highlighted by endless and varying depths of green fields dotted by loitering chewing cows and goats while foregrounding the vast blue seas, it is unthinkable to even blink your eyes while you're here. When we arrived at the town, it was a full hour before sundown, giving us only a little time for exploration that day.
While some of my companions opted to rest at one of the homes, where a group of fellow travel bloggers stayed the previous night, I and Le Anne found some time to mingle with the kids from neighboring houses. I was always interested in observing how little kids live in their own environment. Being someone who have grown up in the suburbs, I always wonder about what it's like growing up in a provincial environment what more a sea-side town and what more than in Batanes or the mother of all 'what more(s)' - in a rustic and charming old town of Chavayan in Sabtang Island.
I swear it is among the most beautiful and well conserved town I've visited in the Philippines. It is a town where the locals still live in their old stone houses and even though hinges of modernity connects the past to the present, it doesn't depletes the town's character and heritage. You could sense that some kind of a #throwback vibe still lingers in the place, that takes you many years back.
So the adorable kiddos, after we stepped out to the narrow street, were all over us asking "Anong ngalan mo?" (what is your name?). All giddy with excitement, smiling while clowning with each other. They would ask me to take pictures of them and like kids in the big city exposed to high tech gadgets as they were probably introduced to it by previous visitors, they would automatically check the LCD of my camera and scroll at the screen using their fingers, mistaking it as a touch screen camera.
With never ending energy they wrestled, shadow boxed, played tag and jumped all over like little kids do in any places. Sometimes their parents would whistle at them and motion them to behave and order them in their local dialect to 'not bother the visitors' referring to us, but as they flash a smile we would affirm that 'its alright' and not soon after, the kids would be back to their playful selves.
They might not experience a city life most of us are accustomed to, there won't be any of those weekend trip to the malls or playing with expensive toys but what they have right now are much better than any of us had, or anything I've gone through my whole childhood. Theirs is set in a paradise, in a picturesque town where every angle deserves to be printed on a postcard. They don't starve nor appear as living under poverty line, as simple living in this part of the world is encouraged and lived to the full. Most of them are probably producing a standard of life miles apart in terms of quality over those deeply engrossed in the rat race of the corporate world here in the big cities.
The kids of Chavayan Village - even though still unaware of it this early, has that something great going for them. I imagine myself having thousands of things to do in between running around this town as a young boy. Amassing experiences that would infinitely guide and inspire me in the latter part of my life. While that never happened, I was glad that these wonderful kids have that kind of childhood right now. The next day when I saw them again, they were dressed in their school uniforms, waving and telling me that they were on their way to class. Down the road and a couple hundred meters from the crashing waves of the sea, a small school is planted by the foot of a rocky hill, and where the kids of Chavayan Village feed on new found knowledge.
I assume that when the bell rings signalling the end of a school day, their routine leafs to a repeating page once again - that of boisterous, mischievous, playful yet full of innocence little kids who are all game in milking every bit of their childhood to the max. If there would be a sequel to that bestselling book, it should be called "Everything I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten at Chavayan"
I have heard a lot of travelers swearing they can live or retire in Chavayan (given there is a consistent and fast internet connection), but for myself, it's about the reverse. Oh how I would give up everything to go back in time and have a childhood in a place like Chavayan Village.