The ZamBaSulTa Journey
Our ZamBaSulTa (Zamboanga-Basilan-Sulu-Tawi-Tawi) journey started in the province of Basilan even though we landed in Zamboanga first from Manila. Zamboanga City was not our first destination. This was just a conduit to other provinces that we will explore.
We flew from Manila to Zamboanga via Cebu Pacific for 2 hours.
Our group chat was quiet on the day of our trip. Only me and Jerome, whom I met in the airport, were the only active ones in the group chat. We thought they were just shy or since they were a group of friends, they did not need to meet the other joiners.
First time in Mindanao
I was excited because this was the first time I would visit Mindanao. I have always wanted to visit Mindanao and finally, it became a reality.
I was not afraid to visit Mindanao. I was actually more curious about the place and its people. I only read about Mindanao in textbooks and heard stories from my uncle when he was assigned in Sulu way back in 1980s so my curiosity was bigger than my fear.
We arrived in Zamboanga City airport safe and sound, and finally met the other joiners.
Off to Basilan
From Zamboanga airport, we rode a tricycle to bring us to the seaport. From the seaport, we rode a ferry going to Isabela City, Basilan.
Our sea travel was about 2 hours from Zamboanga City to Basilan. Since I haven’t had a decent sleep due to our early flight from Manila, I took the opportunity to get some rest until we reached the seaport of Basilan.
Time to explore Basilan
Right after we reached Basilan seaport in Isabela City, we went to Sofia Hotel where we left our bags before we travelled going to Malamawi White Beach. We just changed our clothes and brought our gadgets for photo ops.
Going to Malamawi White Beach was quite easy. It was a 15-minute boat ride from the main island and another 15-minute mini van ride.
Malamawi White Beach
Since we were travelling for almost a day, the only place we visited in Day 1 was Malamawi White Beach. This was the place where we rested for a while, ate lunch and ‘broke the ice’.
The group started to get to know each other by telling their own stories – their origins, places visited, interests, etc.
The sand was pure and the water was so clear in Malamawi White Beach. I was amazed with the beauty of the sea. The vibe reminded me of the beach in Dinadiawan, Dipaculao, Aurora Province.
We enjoyed the beach and left at around 5:00 PM.
Sakayan Festival and Night Market
We did not know that the Sakayan Festival was being held that night. We were surprised because when we reached the hotel, there were drums and loud music in the street.
The first item in the itinerary on Day 2 was the Tulip Garden in Lamitan City.
The Tulip Garden is composed of thousands of plastic bottles painted in various colors. This is one of the initiatives by the government to intensify the waste management campaign in the province.
Local delicacies market
After a 20-minute drive, we reached Lamitan City’s Public Market where you can buy local delicacies like Lokot-lokot (Yummy!).
If you visit Basilan, make sure to try their local delicacies as they are really delicious!
Lamitan Bulingan Falls
After filling our empty stomach from Lamitan’s Public Market, we pushed forward to our next destination… Bulingan Falls.
Bulingan Falls looks like it is man-made but it is not. According to the locals, the falls is natural. The only man-made in the location are the cottages.
We did photo ops only in the falls and did not go for a swim as we need to leave immediately for our next itinerary.
Yakan Weaving Center
Yakan Weaving Center is quite near the Bulingan Falls that’s why we reached the weaving center in just 15 minutes. From here, we saw our Muslim sisters weaving effortlessly (as it looked simple for them if you watch them closely).
We also made a short visit to the camp to see the historic peaceful pact between the Armed Forces of the Philippines and our Muslim brothers and sisters.
And before we went to the main event of our Day 2 trip, we visited Sumisip Mosque where we made some photo ops inside the compound of the mosque.
Tinuse Beach is a 10-minute boat ride from main land. No one aside from our group were occupying the island that day. We felt lucky to have this paradise for a day.
We were accompanied by Ma’am Leni from Sumisip Tourist Department that’s why our stay in the island was extra special.
We left Basilan with a smile. Basilan was indeed a beautiful province.
I am hoping that the peace and order will continue so many tourists can visit Basilan and experience the beauty of Malamawi and Tinuse Islands.
Is it safe in Basilan?
According to Ma’am Leni, Basilan is generally safe for all tourists. In fact, our group didn’t have police or military escort when we arrived and left Basilan. We walked around too early in the morning as we were looking for pandesal and I felt safe the whole time.
Of course, one must respect the culture and religion of our brothers and sisters in Basilan at all times.
Go and try visiting Basilan for you to witness the beauty of the province!
Off to the next destination - Sulu
From Basilan seaport, we rode back to Zamboanga to catch the ferry that will take us to Sulu… to be continued.