The Houses That Stood Still


Architecture is an adaptation. Aesthetic can be disregarded but architecture must above all be functional. That being one of the basic commodities of human, shelter should give us comfort, rest, sense of dignity, and totality. After all life is about survival and we make buildings to give us protection.

On the north-est tip of the Philippines, where typhoons are harsh, winds are extreme, and weather is cold, we can see how the architecture adapt to these climatic condition. Considered to be of folk architecture, they may be old but definitely proves to be very effective building technology and traditional technique.

For the Main Houses, walls are made from layers of limestones and corals which are predominantly available in the area and are at least 0.6 meters thick. Roofs are 1 meter thick made of thatch or reeds which are used as windbreaks in the vast open fields. Hardwood floor planks however are raised above the ground, with slots in between to let the air come through the structure. Temporary Houses used for storage and for curing of fishes are called Chivuvuhung, which means cogon wall. Walls are therefore layers of reed supported by wooden posts.

Variations of houses resulted from innovations through time and modern techniques. When Spaniards came they brought about the use of masonry. Thus Sinadumpuran came, a variation of the old Ivatan traditions mixed with new technique. This also allows higher wall to be made, thus 2 storey Ivatan Houses are also exemplified. Types depend upon the use of the buildings and the façade of this structure.

These are Ivatan Houses, which has been in existence for hundreds of years, where hundreds of thousands of storms made its way to this humble island of Batanes. Its long existence proves not only its effectivity but somehow managed to reflect the culture of the humble Ivatans. Its thick protective walls shows Ivatans hospitality and warmth, those cogon roofs manifests Ivatans resilience,  and those houses that stood still shows Ivatans toughness.

These typhoons may have left a small scar upon those sturdy walls but these however created an architecture that is considered an architectural heritage and of magnificence, functional and nonetheless a beauty that have stood through time and age.

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2 Storey Houses on the Port of San Vicente Sabtang

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The infinite vistas going to Chavayana – the oldest settlement on the Island of SabtangIMG_20140111_183349

Welcome to Chavayana! Oldest settlement of Ivatans and cited as Unesco’s Heritage Site

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