Joseph and Tanj: Postcards from Batanes



Travel always teaches me something. Whenever I go home from a trip, I bring home realizations, smiles, treasures–a knowledge which cant be found in any guidebook.





I came to Batanes for a wedding and engagement shoot, and in a week of work/vacation in this very simple, charming, breathtaking province, I found love in a lot of forms. Love for nature and conservation, love for culture, love for self, for neighbors, families, friends, love for God. It has reminded me to appreciate the simplest of things, those taken for granted because of distraction of the city and materialism. My experience was a perfect testament of Mies Van de Rohe’s “Less is more.” We got less favorable weather during the wedding, rain and winds welcomed our day, but it didnt stop our bride from marching up the church. Our couple had only 29 guests, but there was warmth of a thousand. We got less signal and no wifi, but it led us to get to know new friends and clients. The couple didn’t have any program for the reception or the usual traditions (except for the cake cutting and toasting), but it was alive and far from boring. There were laughter and story-telling (and good food); an ambiance that felt like a casual happy family reunion.

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My couple, Joseph and Tanj, were travel buddies. Though they both understood they were just friends, those close to them knew they were gonna end up together.


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Initially they thought of getting married in New Zealand, an elopement type, but they thought it would be better to share their wedding with their very close families and friends. And there’s no other local place that’s closer to the mountainous image of New Zealand than Batanes.

A lot of people didn’t actually know the full story how they got together so they’ve prepared a storybook (and at the same time a guestbook) of how it happened. The couple had a storytelling session with their guests!

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No wedding is perfect. Forecast said it would be sunny just like the day before. But at 5am of Jan 31 when we woke up, we could hear raindrops on the roof. I thought, of all days, why now? Worry came out naturally to all of us, especially to Tanj. But these times do happen to remind us to hold on to God. I especially was reminded of it. I usually pray for my couples by myself before a wedding, but never in front of everyone. But as I see my bride worried sick about the weather, her gown, her walk, her guests, my co-photographer thought of praying with everyone in the room. And we did. Tanj was thankful for the prayer, and I guess it helped everyone calm down as well. I realized that it doesn’t hurt to share your prayer to people, and it blessed us as well to know that we were able to help in our little ways. I remember a December wedding I had last year in Tagaytay where traffic was crazy, and everyone, even the priest was late. The priest said that the imperfections of a wedding is but a glimpse of the much bigger imperfections of a marriage. Thats why a ring is the very symbol of marriage, the symbol of a never-ending God, the very reminder to keep Him at the center of the relationship.

In the afternoon, the weather became better, rain turned to drizzle, and for while, it stopped and we were able to shoot outside.

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