Unraveling the beauty within Ivatan’s Culture

I. Ivatans are ethnolinguistic group that live in the Northern part of the Philippines, Batanes. There are different cultures and traditions that can be seen and observed. Some of these are being preserved up until the present. Batanes group of islands came in late into the folds of Spanish colonial power. Natives of Batanes are called Ivatans. Ivatans already lived in Batanes before the Spaniards Regime. Their native language is called “Chirin nu Ivatan” but it is commonly known as Ivatan. The culture of Ivatan is being influenced by its surrounding especially that it is surrounded by large mass of water. Houses in Batanes are made up of stones in which they called the “Dakay House” with thick cogon roof, these houses can withstand and survive any calamities such as heavy winds and typhoons.

VAKUL-KANAYI FESTIVAL. The Ivatans are known to be skilled farmers & fishermen whose livelihood styles have been honed by their extreme weather conditions. Photo by Potpot Pinili/Rappler
The people of Batanes, also known as the Ivatans.
FROM AGES PAST. The Dakay House is the oldest house in Batanes
The Dakay House

Many traditional foods entice the sights of the tourists too such as the famous “Dibang”, which are salted dried flying fish, the “Uvud”, which are made in banana stalk pith, “Lunvis”, which are salted pork. One endemic clothing of Ivatans is called “Vakul”, it is a headdress that protects their head from the heat of the sun; it is usually made from abaca fiber of the “vuyavuy” plant. The Ivatan have three different folk songs: the “laji, “kanta”and “kalusan. The “lajiare ancient lyrical songs that are supposed to be sung when they finished work. The “kalusanthe other hand is sung during work. The Ivatan also have legends that are called “kabbata. They also have the “rawod, chants the adventures of the Ivatan’s forefathers as they escape a disaster.



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II.  Different Rituals and Festivals can also be observed like the “Kapayvanuvanua” which is a ceremony, opening for the fishing season, it is often referred as “Ceremonial and Ritual Opening of a fishing port to obtain the favor of the spirit-dwellers of the sea” the ritual came from the belief that some superior beings own and control the sea and its riches. Fishermen sacrifice “sadiew” of the fishing port. How they bur the right to use the seaport? There is a ritual that’s need to be done, it is to sacrifice a pig and let its blood spill into the water.

Kapayvanuvanua: Fishing Ritual

There is also “Kulay Festival” which means “anything dried” this festival highlights the simple yet colorful food heritage of the Ivatans; they display their traditional food such as dried onion, dried fish, dried garlic, dried pork and anything that is dry.

They also have a 5 day festival which is the “Payuhan” which simply refers as “bayanihan”, it starts with choosing which day is good to start the festival then coins are being buried in the first hole of the chosen foundation then an animal is allowed to be dripped in the place. On the set day, neighbors and friends usually come to help, those who cannot do any actual construction offer “akhad”, anything that can be served and “tudung”, any drinks but the preferable one is wine.

Image result for payuhan festival

In sabtang Island, there is “Vakul-Kanayi” Festival, it is a parade of traditional clothes such as the vakul, they also hold street dancing competition and a colorful parade and the famous “Palu-Palo”, the term came from the stick, the Ivatans used against colonizers.  This festival is an annual celebration which showcase the livelihood and culture of Ivatans in Basco. Rituals for wedding include “mayprisinta” it is when the groom-to-be personally visits the family of his soon to be wife; “manukud su churin” it is the time when the groom-to-be selects a spokeperson who will confirm the young man’s intention to marry the girl, “kapaychakuvuyut” it is the traditional Wedding day, the selected women and men serve as “manaynay” whose duty is to get people to dance the “fundanggo” Moreover, “Kapayretiru” is the celebration of the sixtieth birthday, from the word “retiru” it also means that it is the time of retiring from government service. “kapachianyitu” is the practice of acknowledging spirits especially when heading to the farm.

 The Vakul-Kanayi Festival. Photo Credit: RapplerThe “Vakul-Kanayi” Festival

Image result for palu-palo festivalPalu-Palo

Batanes is also known for having good sceneries such as the Morong point and the Honesty store which was featured in one of the famous movie in the Philippines, “You’re my Boss”. It also has good attractions which are really enchanting and can take your breath away.

Some of the Tourist Spots in Batanes

III. Batanes is known for having good tourist spots, some visit the place to find inner peace or for relaxation and to unwind. Behind its beautiful sceneries and tourist spots, hide a rich culture; throughout the years, these culture has been preserved and passed generation to another generation of the Ivatans. Indeed, people of Batanes have surpassed other tribes because of their unique and refreshing traditions. They may be a small tribe but their culture is magnificent and any people who will visit the place will be surely enchanted by the things Batanes and Ivatans can offer Therefore, go visit Batanes and be amazed with its people, culture and place. Dios Mamajes!



  • Judith N. Agorto, 46, Sunkist St., Pallua Rd, San Gabriel, Tuguegarao City, March 2, 2017
  • Emma Nanud, 79, Uyugan, Batanes, March 5, 2017

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