When you hear the word “Batanes”, what is the first thing that comes into your mind? Can you imagine yourself enjoying its breathtaking landscapes and blue waters? Seeing the popular images of Batanes would certainly inspire and motivate you to include it in your must-go-and-experience list. No wonder Batanes has become one of the favorite travel destinations in the country.
But, Batanes is more than just a weekend getaway. There is so much more to admire about these northernmost Philippine islands. A project of Musueo ng Kaalamang Katutubo (MusKKAT) reveals why in the book entitled “A Delicate Balance: Batanes Food, Ecology and Community.” This book explores how food, ecology, nature, and tradition, have shaped the Ivatan and Itbayat (people of Batanes) way of life in the last 4,000 years. The book likewise presents an explanation how these beautiful people managed to husband resources without compromising nature.
The book was written by two authors -- Corazon S. Alvina and Marian Pastor Roces. They make sure to point out in their literary piece that food habits are radically changing as years go by. A quick browse of the book would show you insightful photographs taken by Neal Oshima. Taken as a whole, the book depicts the intricate but robust relationships within the communities of the Batanes, and how traditional Ivatan and Itbayat food is interconnected with the islands’ microsystems. In one of the notes in the book, Roces writes that while “A Delicate Balance: Batanes Food, Ecology and Community” is a food book, it is not necessarily a food book. Food is only an access point into the Batanes human-in-biosphere ecosystem.
"A Delicate Balance: A Window to the Batanes Way of Life", launched last November, is a result of collaboration, consolidation and substantive research work of known professionals in the field. There are archaeologists, anthropologists, boat makers, botanists, Ivatan experts and cooks, a professional urban chef, nutritionists, geologists, sea current specialists, and zoologists.
To those who are interested in peeking to the window to the Batanes Way of Life, do not hesitate to get a copy of this book. One copy costs Php 3,850 and it can be ordered via www.phfoodecosystems.com.