House of Dakay is said to be the oldest stone house existing in Batanes and considered as a UNESCO Heritage Building. Located in the town of San Jose de Ivana in Batan Island, the structure has remained intact over the years.
The edifice was built similar to the other houses in the old villages of the province. The walls are thick and are made up of stone and lime. Its roof is composed of cogon grass which is approximately 1/3 of a meter thick and lasts for 25 to 30 years. The roof is replaced every 30 years since 1917.
The Ivatans call the house as Vahay ni Dakay which was named after the family who once resided there.
Luisa Estrella founded the Dakay House in 1887, but she handed it over to Jose Dakay Estrella, her beloved nephew, whose name was the building.A devastating earthquake struck the island on 13 September 1918. Nevertheless, the House of Dakay survived the catastrophe together with four households and remains strong until today.
The house was eventually given to Floresida Estrella or “Lola Ida”, the only descendant. She looks after the edifice and entertains the tourists coming to visit. The 80-year-old lady was originally born in Silay City in Visayas, but later moved to Batanes to take care of the house.
Although her relatives live right next to the House of Dakay, Floresida feels more comfortable living in the house and believes that it will protect her from any unwanted catastrophes. As the caretaker, Lola Ida is the most photographed personality in Batanes and has appeared together with the home in magazines including Reader's Digest. In January 2014, she died.
Aside from the House of Dakay, there are several other attractions located in the town of Ivana. Among these spots is the Honesty Coffee Shop. It is an unmanned store where tourists can buy anything in display and put their payment in a box provided.
Near the town is another attraction called Marlboro Hills also known as Racuh A Payaman. It is a vast pasture land that gives a great view of the sea.