Capturing the Beauty of Batanes with Asus Zenfone 3

Note: Majority of the photos are taken with Zenfone 3 except those with red * asterisk.

Last October 24-28, 2016, Asus together with some fellow bloggers and a select number of Asus fans flew to Batanes for a 5-day, 4-night getaway. Having cemented its place in one of its largest markets in the Asean region, the Philippines, the multinational PC and electronics giant celebrated another milestone with its online media partners by bringing them to one of the country’s most sought after destinations – Breathtaking Batanes.

Basco Airport Terminal
*Basco Airport Terminal

Out of Town Travel Blog is one of those privileged media partners who were invited to the said event. Asus invited us not just to celebrate its success as one of the top mobile and computer brands in the country, but also to allow us to test the new Asus Zenfone 3, especially its upgraded “Incredible” camera features.


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Zenfone 3 invades Batanes
*Zenfone 3 invades Batanes

Asus ZenFone 3’s design is inspired by the beauty of nature. Hence, there is no doubt that the best location to test its extraordinary camera is Batanes, a beautiful island where the mountains meet the sea. To showcase the amazing photography capabilities of the phone, Asus took in Aaron Palabyab, a local travel blogger and photographer, and invited him to conduct a workshop on galaxy photography.

Melo in Vayang Rolling Hills
*Melo in Vayang Rolling Hills

Who would have thought that a mobile camera can now be used for long exposure shots? Through its simple manual settings and with the aid of a sturdy tripod, someone who has an Asus Zenfone 3 would be able to take his/her own shots of the Milky Way galaxy. This only goes to show that the Asus Zenfone 3’s smartphone camera is really built for photography.

Allow me to feature in this photo essay my wonderful experience in Batanes with Asus Zenfone 3!

Capturing the Beauty of Batanes – Day 1

Upon arriving in Batanes, we proceeded to Batanes Seaside Resort to check in and have breakfast. After relaxing in our respective accommodation, we trooped to Fundacion Pacita for a short briefing and distribution of travel kits and, of course, the Zenfone 3 that we will be using for the entire trip.

Asus in Batanes
*Asus in Batanes

Then, we went to Batanes Octagon Bed and Dine where yummy meals were served. Octagon is a famous local restaurant that offers authentic Batanes cuisine. Among the dishes offered, we sampled turmeric rice, Uved Balls, Luniz, and Pako salad.

Mr. George Su, the Country Manager of ASUS Philippines welcomes the participants at Fundacion Pacita
*Mr. George Su, the Country Manager of ASUS Philippines welcomes the participants at Fundacion Pacita

Our sumptuous lunch was immediately followed by a rolling tour. First stop was at Mt Carmel Chapel, popularly known as Tukon Church. The design of the chapel resembles that of traditional Ivatan stone houses. This makes the church a top choice for wedding and special mass celebrations.

Tukon Church aka Mt Carmel Chapel
Tukon Church aka Mt Carmel Chapel

We also had a side stop at Basco Didawud Idjang, an ancient Ivatan fortress. An Idjang is used as a lookout point to protect the town from foreign invaders. Just knowing the history of such structures mesmerized us.

Dipnaysupuan Japanese tunnel
Dipnaysupuan Japanese tunnel

Hidden by the hills of Tukon, the Dipnaysupuan Japanese tunnel is a five-door tunnel, complete with a series of chambers, a bunker that serves as a lookout spot, and a water reservoir. It was constructed during the Japanese occupation for defense.

Next in line is Valugan Boulder Beach. This place is locally known as Chanpan, but is popularly known as Valugan, which literally means “east”. It is a sacred fishing port for the Ivasay fishermen, particularly those from Barangay San Joaquin. Valugan Boulder Beach has been a subject in a number of award-winning national photography contests.

Basco Cathedral in Black and White
Basco Cathedral in Black and White
Basco Cathedral
Basco Cathedral

After seeing the beach, we headed to Basco Cathedral. Also known as the Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception Cathedral, it serves as the seat of the Roman Catholic Church in the province. It is the first parish church to have been built in Batanes (in the early 18th century) with cogon grass roofing on it. It was also the first to have galvanized iron roofing in the 1890s. Every 8th of August, the Ivatans celebrate the feast of its patron saint, Sto. Domingo de Guzman.

Afternoon Light at Vayang Rolling Hills
Afternoon Light at Vayang Rolling Hills
Cow at Vayang Rolling Hills
Cow at Vayang Rolling Hills
Vayang Rolling Hills
Vayang Rolling Hills

Basco Rolling Hills, also called Vayang Rolling Hills, boasts of a perfect combination of landscapes and seascapes. It’s gotten its name from how its appearance–what seems to be an endless wave of rolling hills. It is the best site within Basco town proper where the three major island municipalities–Batan, Sabtang and Itbayat–can be viewed all at once.

Basco Lighthouse
Basco Lighthouse

The last stop in our first day trip around Batanes is the Basco Lighthouse, in Naidi Hills, which is a popular landmark in Basco. Standing at 66-feet, this lighthouse was constructed in March 2003 to serve as a navigational facility for local fishermen and at the same time as a tourist attraction.

Participants in Basco Lighthouse photo by Anvey Factora
Participants in Basco Lighthouse photo by Anvey Factora

Then we headed back to Fundacion Pacita and had dinner at Cafe De Tukon. As we delighted in the café’s delicate dishes, ASUS Philippines’ Country Manager George Su proudly shared the accomplishments of ASUS in the Philippine market. Also, that same night, our fellow travel blogger Aaron Palabyab shared his expertise in taking pictures of the Milky Way galaxy. This capped off our first day in Batanes. Such an awesome experience!

Day 2

We had an early morning call time to catch our Faluwa boat schedule to the island of Sabtang. Instead of going to the usual port, we took the Mahatao shelter port as there was ongoing repair of roads leading to the port of Ivana.

With the sea calm and the weather cooperative, we were able to reach the port of Sabtang in less than 40 minutes.

Faluwa at Mahatao shelter port
Faluwa at Mahatao shelter port

We headed first to Morong Beach, a spot famous for its white sand and the iconic Mayahaw Arch which is perfectly suited for pictorials and selfies. The area also has a zip line, although it was not yet fully operational when we went there.

Mayahaw Arch
Mayahaw Arch

Our next stop was the quiet village of Savidug. This village, just like Chavayan, is known for its vernacular houses and picturesque coastline. After touring around the village, we enjoyed a traditional lunch by-the- beach experience.

We also visited Chamantad Viewpoint, a place with rolling hills and a panoramic view of the sea. This is great place to buy souvenir items like shirts, local tea, key chains, miniature Batanes stonehouses, and a whole lot more! I took the opportunity to follow the trail and get close to Chamantad Cove. Too bad we only had limited time. I would love to walk down towards the beach cove and play with the waves again, just like the old times.

Chamantad Viewpoint
Chamantad Viewpoint

Due to the time constrains, we had to cut our trip short. We headed back to Sabtang port for our boat ride back to Mahatao shelter port. Our faluwa boat ride back to Batan was not as smooth as our morning ride, but it was definitely better than my previous trips.

Rock Formation at Chamantad Viewpoint
Rock Formation at Chamantad Viewpoint

For dinner, we all gathered at Fundacion Pacita and proceeded to Basco Lighthouse for our Galaxy photography workshop where we put to test the Zenfone 3’s capabilities.

Astrophotography at Fundacion Pacita
Astrophotography at Fundacion Pacita
Astrophotography in Batanes
Astrophotography in Batanes

One of the most impressive features of Zenfone 3 is its built-in Manual mode that allows any user to take long exposure shots. With this features, we were able to take impressive Milky Way galaxy shots while feeling the cool ocean breeze in Naidi Hills.

Basco Lighthouse at Night
Basco Lighthouse at Night
“Who would have thought that a Zenfone 3 5.2 smartphone can produce beautiful Milky Way photos? I was truly impressed! Zenfone 3 is upping the standard in smartphone photography and to be honest, photos taken using Zenfone 3 are more than just impressive. They are INCREDIBLE!!! Impressive is an understatement.”

Day 3

Batanes was recently affected by typhoon Ferdie (Meranti). To help our Ivatan brothers and sisters, Asus together with its media partners, gathered clothes and relief goods and distributed these at the multi-purpose hall of Barangay San Antonio.

San Carlos Borromeo Church
San Carlos Borromeo Church

After spending quality time with the locals in Barangay San Antonio, we proceeded to Mahatao and visited San Carlos Borromeo Church. Also known as Mahatao Church, this Roman Catholic Church’s patron saint is Saint Charles Borromeo whose feast is celebrated every July 4. This church is considered as a National Cultural Treasure by the National Museum of the Philippines since 2001.

Marlboro Hills Batanes
Marlboro Hills Batanes

Our next stop was my favorite spot in Batanes. Popularly known as Marlboro Hills, the locals call it Racuh a Payaman, which serve as communal pasturelands for cows, carabaos and horses. It’s also a perfect place to relax, unwind, and view postcard-perfect sceneries.

Carabao at Racuh a Payaman
Carabao at Racuh a Payaman

Before heading back to our respective hotels, we dropped by at Honesty Coffee Shop. This place is a one-of-a-kind store located in Ivana, Batanes. It’s originally named Honesty Cafe way back in 1998. Some local residents now call it Honesty Store. Want to know why? It’s because in this shop, no one looks after the merchandise so each customer is pretty much free to move inside. Customers are expected to insert the total purchase fee (payments) inside a wooden box after having chosen the items they’d like to buy. All items have price tags and everyone is expected to pay the exact amount. Interestingly enough, you can find a sign on the wall that says “This store is too small for dishonest people.” An honesty system definitely works here!

honesty coffee shop
honesty coffee shop

Our dinner was served again at Cafe De Tukon in Fundacion Pacita. This was followed by an ASUS Quiz Night at Sidewalk Grill and Bar. Each group of media partners and fans was asked to gather in one table. I and my fellow team mates–Mark Marcelo, Lea Cruz, Chris Hidalgo, and Arcee Miranda–were given a few minutes to read the marketing materials provided by ASUS before the quiz started.

#TEAMEstacioKnows
#TEAMEstacioKnows

I’m not that techie, to be honest, but I’m glad I was able to contribute correct answers for non-technology-related questions haha! Despite the lack of preparation, our team still got the second highest score among the 6 teams that competed that night.

Many thanks to ASUS Philippines for this truly incredible experience!

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