Afternoon Ramble at the Grassy Knoll of Racuh a Payaman (Marlboro Country) | Batanes

Blame western pop culture pandering outsiders for coining a needless also-known-as name of this jaw-dropping place in Batanes. Racuh a Payaman, as the locals refer to it, sounds more faithful to its appearance; of rolling hills showcasing the wealth of nature.  It takes a while before one's amazement is mellowed down by its spellbinding landscape stretching as far as the eyes can see. I missed out on going to this part of the island during my first visit here in 2014. On the morning when we were supposed to head to Racuh a Payaman, my friend Audrey suffered an accident. A tidal pool pulled her into the rocky bed while she was standing on a rock formation at one of the viewpoints situated along the road.

Marlboro Country

It was a no-brainer. We ditched the day’s itinerary and rush her to the hospital where the caring nurses treated and dressed her wounds immediately. Fast forward five years later and on an uneventful media trip with the Tourism Promotions Board of the Philippines, I finally had the opportunity to walk, lay down and jump over the fine grassy knoll of Racuh a Payaman.

Valian Urag

Okay fine. I get it when people described it as Marlboro Country as most of us—pre-travel boom days—have only seen bounteous grasslands and hills on those classic 80s and 90s Marlboro TV commercials. I did too when I was a kid and I can still remember a Marlboro-smoking cowboy shepherding dozens of cows across a vast hilly farm.

Audrey Tangonon

There were a dozen cows, goats and a couple of dogs lying lazily on the wavy mounds the afternoon we arrived there. A few other tourists appear like dots from a distance. I sensed the world has gotten bigger as I sat on the grass. Ditching the urge to take photographs, I stared at the cloud-covered tip of Mt. Iraya towering across Diura Beach. An idea came to mind; I shall return and scale that peak next time.

Hannah Villasis

Lost in thoughts about life in general and my uncertainties of the future, I let the picturesque surrounding took over my mind. Not long after, a Zen-state of well-being reigned over me. Why worry? I asked myself. The answer presented itself through the place itself. Racuh a Payaman or an affluence of pasture, gazes back at me as if telling me that experiences such as this—being in that moment—enriches my life already.

Jomie Naynes

I stood up and joined the rest of my group as they huddled seated on downward slope of grass. I thought about rolling myself like an 8-year old kid would do but settled to lie down again. I looked at the sky and as I listen to the sound of laughter from my fellow travel bloggers. In that moment, I feel reassured by kindred souls who appreciate good karma—the kind that brought me to Batanes again.

Audrey Trinidad