The Ivatans are found chiefly in the Batanes group of small islands. Most of them are on the islands of batan, Sabtang and the Itbayat. There is solid evidence for believing that present Ivatans are the Christianized surviving group of an ancient people who once occupied all of the islands Luzon and Taiwan, and who are probably reperesented in the purest from today by the natives of Botel Tobago. However, there probably exists a fairly strong cultural element on batan derived from Chinese contact which is absent on Botel Tabago.
The people call their language Chirin nu Ibatan, but it is better known as "Ivatan". Its dialects are the northern (Basco), Itbayat (Itbayat Island), the southern (Sabtang Island), and possibly Yami.
The dominant physical type is the Malay belnd - short, squat, with a strong mixture of the short Mongol type. There are some individuals who seem to have physical characteristics peculiar to the Ainus of Japan. Their general culture is markedly different from the Spanish-Filpino, but their economic and social life does show ceratin differences. The persistence of these cultural survivals are most probably due to their geographical isolation. They have several unique customs related to marriage and death. Many ancient beliefs have been preserved to this day.
In the past, their small houses of wood, bamboo and cogon were located in small villages on rocky hills. Each cluster of houses was under a mangpus, a sort of chief. Their boat sheds as well as their ornamentation and design demonstrate the primary characteristics of their culture.
The Basco and elsewhere in Batan Island, the houses are made of coral and lmestone cement; some have roofs thatched with grass (vuchid). They are almost always square structures that have big windows as big as doorways. These are closed with heavy wooden bars. Because of frequent typhoons, the walls and roots are built almost a meter thick, while the floor is raised about two meters high.
On the whole they are peace-loving. They are very clannish and cluster together in kin groups. A problem the Ivatan face is their geographic isolation from the rest of the country, a problem made more difficult by rough seas during most of the year.
Among the Ivatan, courting takes the form of service to the family of the girl. If later the girl agrees to marry the man, the would-be-bride-groom proceeds to look for and engage a go-between. A woman go-between means that the man is humble and places the social status of his family below that of his intended bride.
The wedding itself takes place in the church, after which the wedding feast follows. On festive occasions like this, the native delicacy (uvod) is served with wine (palek). Dancing is very much a part of the occasion.
Today, most Ivatans like most Filipinos, are Catholics. However, the early Ivatans and those who have not become Christians have held on to a form of ancestor worship, which venerates the dead as anito, responsible for the maladies and misfortunes of men as well as their successes and good fortune.