Sunday, June 26, 2011

road trip to lamitan and kumalarang basilan

as early as 1914, Basilan was already exporting rubber to the United States as led by American businessman James Strong, who established American Rubber Corporation in the island. President Manuel L. Quezon and General Douglas McArthur visited the island when the exportation boomed.today, more than 50,000hectares of the island produce latex saps, rubber's raw material but are now handled by several local cooperatives. a road trip to the municipality of Lamitan, East of Isabela City would bring you to the great expanse of these rubber trees. the rubber produced in Basilan contributes a small portion to the 94% of Asia's source to the global requirement. among the island's main agricultural industry, coconut, coffee and black pepper are also distributed to the archipelago.Kumalarang, the West side of Isabela also holds large areas of coconut palm oil fields and rubber trees. a usual weekend of the residents of Isabela City would be doing road trips to this part. popular spots includes the water district swimming pools, some fine waterfalls and the old airport.
it is odd that one of the country's National Park is actually part of the war thorn areas of the island of Basilan. established as a National Park since 1939, the Basilan National Park covers 3,100hectares of dense flora and fauna.on our trip to Lamitan, we visited the site of the unforgettable 2001 Lamitan siege. just one of the events that has captured the country's attention. an island so rich with natural resources yet because of the tensions it has kept the island isolated giving the island a weak image.
photo below shows travel buddies Tzed, Erick and Oman during the road trip. you can check out their posts on this trip. this ends the Basilan series and up next a short visit to some of Zamboanga City's tourist spots.
how to get there:
there are regular flight from Manila to Zamboanga with the major airlines - 1hour 20minutes
from Zamboanga, take a taxi to the pier of the ferry that goes to Basilan. better if you ask the taxi to bring you directly inside the pier.
option 1: cheaper way is by ferry to the pier of Isabela. 1hour and 40minutes.
option 2: taking the fast craft which is less than an hour to the pier of Isabela.
for this road trip: one has to rent a van to make stops to the rubber plantations or take the bus to Lamitan going East and Lantawan going West which can partly show some of the rubber tree plantations.


important note:
it is advisable to check first the situation in the island before setting a visit. i also recommend that you know of someone from the island who can guide you around.

location:
island: Basilan
province: Basilan

GPS location:

6^ 42" 22' N
121^ 58" 20' E

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

mangrove swamps malamawi island basilan

if Iloilo has Guimaras island, Davao with Samal island, Zamboanga with Sta Cruz island, Cebu with Mactan island, Tagbilaran with Panglao island. Isabela City's main coast is enclosed from the open sea by Malamawi island.
most people think that it's just one island but if one sees it from Google Earth, it shows another enclosed island within the mangrove swamp on its Northern coast. this is the island of Marang-Marang. connected to the main island of Malamawi through the vast areas of mangroves.
just recently, a view point on the island's peak was opened to the public with a great view of the island of Marang-Marang and the main island of Basilan separated by the Basilan Strait. on its West side, it gives the view of Malamawi's White Beach. one can reach this peak by taking a jeep to the top.
one can actually cross these two islands by boat through the swamps during high tide and can walk over muddy soil during low tide. a small community hidden between Malamawi and Marang-Marang can only be seen from this peak.
these shrubs extends to the Basilan strait protecting the main coastline of Isabela from big waves coming from Sulu sea. thus a large area of stilt houses are found within the Basilan Strait. only when i was in high school when i started to explore these mangrove swamps by boat.
how to get there:
from Isabela city:
option 1: take a boat trip from Isabela city's boat dock site for Malamawi bound trips. it is just a short walk away from the main dock site of ferries coming from Zamboanga. Isabela dock site to Malamawi pier (10minutes or less). from the pier, if you've arranged in advance for a pick-up, they will pick you up from here for an hour or less trip to White beach.
option 2: rent a boat from Isabela city pier Malamawi bound that will bring you directly to White beach. warning: this can be risky as waves are most of the time big for this route. this less recommended.
one can then arrange a ride to the peak for the view.

important note:
it is advisable to check first the situation in the island before setting a visit. i also recommend that you know of someone from the island who can guide you around.

location:
island: Malamawi
province: Basilan
take off point: Isabela city

GPS location:

6^ 44" 45' N
121^ 57" 54' E

Thursday, June 16, 2011

white beach malamawi island basilan

i have never been to any beach as many times as i did in Malamawi island's White Beach. there was not one summer that i missed going to this beach years back. we would usually go there twice a month during summer.
the best thing is it only takes about 10minutes boat trip and less than an hour road trip to this beach from the city. isolation on weekdays but one busy beach during weekends. on this year's trip, since we arrived in Basilan on a Friday, immediately we went to White Beach as i knew how people would flock to this beach on weekends.
while doing this post i'm holding one of the old pictures taken there. in the photo, my father, uncle Noli Hizon, uncle Amado Lim, uncle Danny Lim, Danny Tan and uncle Joy Eisma and the rest of the family. my father's usual companions who were there for one thing. snorkeling.
growing up going to the beaches with our father was the major reason why i love the beach. why i love snorkeling, shell picking, sand forming, jumping on waves, picnic, swimming.photo above shows erick taking photo of the beach coast. photo below shows lawstude checking the sand quality.but like most part of Basilan, safety remains to be the most important consideration. one needs to check the situation before going there. when one books a ride from the island dock site to the beach, some armed security are usually provided.
this was different from my trip years back. i remember that we would bring motorcycle to the island and drove our way to the beach. at once we even tried walking from the dock site to the beach. after my high school graduation, our whole class actually went by boat directly from the city. it took about an hour.
the beach has not changed much after years. clean water, fine white sand and the sea breeze of the Basilan strait. only some new cottages, new road route, some beach flags. still one of my favorite beach in the country.
how to get there:
from Isabela city:
option 1: take a boat trip from Isabela city's boat dock site for Malamawi bound trips. it is just a short walk away from the main dock site of ferries coming from Zamboanga. Isabela dock site to Malamawi pier (10minutes or less). from the pier, if you've arranged in advance for a pick-up, they will pick you up from here for an hour or less trip to White beach.
option 2: rent a boat from Isabela city pier Malamawi bound that will bring you directly to White beach. warning: this can be risky as waves are most of the time big for this route. this less recommended.

important note:
it is advisable to check first the situation in the island before setting a visit. i also recommend that you know of someone from the island who can guide you around.

location:
island: Malamawi
province: Basilan
take off point: Isabela city

GPS location:

6^ 44" 45' N
121^ 57" 54' E

Sunday, June 12, 2011

isabela basilan

i am born and raised in the island of Basilan. spent the first seventeen years of my life there thus i consider it as my island province. lived in the former capital city of Isabela, which is now part of the Zamboanga peninsula.
there are no direct commercial flights to the island, making Zamboanga city as the gateway to the island. there are a number of trips of ferries and fast crafts to the island every day. with two major ports going to the city of Isabela and Lamitan.of the many years of conflict and unwanted events, very few has dared to cross Basilan strait, the water that separates Sulu sea in the west and the Moro gulf in the East. home to the Muslim ethnic group Yakan and Tausug and a number of sea gypsies, the Badjaos.
among the most usual sight when one enters the Isabela channel are the stilt houses of the Badjaos. occupying the shoreline of Basilan island on the left and Malamawi island on the right. something usual to islands of the archipelago of Sulu of which Basilan island is the largest.i grew up seeing Badjaos begging for coins from the ferries of the pier of Isabela. they would usually ask the people to throw it to the waters while they all jump from their wooden boats to get the coins. a display of their expertise in deep sea diving.
with the continuous conflict between the military and the terrorists in the archipelago, military detachments are also positioned in the channel. it serves as dock points to navy boats, watch towers and on weekend are turned into picnic sites.
Isabela city is a component city since administratively it belongs to the Zamboanga peninsula while the rest of the eleven municipalities including Lamitan is part of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao or more known as ARMM.
the city is divided by the Aguada river with the central and commercial area in the east and the large residential area in the west. main source of livelihood is agriculture which includes rubber, copra, coffee and palm oil which are often exported.
the main seat of government in the island is the new provincial capitol in the central city area. the old capitol was on the same location which was burned in 1993. few knew that Basilan before it became a province, was as a whole declared as Basilan city along with Zamboanga city but was later divided into seven municipalities and now to twelve to extend leadership.
a park away from the capitol is Sta Isabel cathedral, the church that has been bombed several times through the years, thus most of the time it is guarded by military soldiers. some of the gates are regularly closed to control the people entering the church. it was accidentally burned in the 1960s but was rebuilt with an altar with an intricate mosaic which came from Italy. one of the best that i've seen which i believe every visitor in the island should closely see.though the long conflict in the island lead it in isolation to tourists, it is a misconception that Christians and Muslims cannot live together. i grew up having Muslim barkadas, really good friends and we get along together even now. we knew our differences, we knew where we can go together.
how to get there:
there are regular flight from Manila to Zamboanga with the major airlines - 1hour 20minutes
from Zamboanga, take a taxi to the pier of the ferry that goes to Basilan. better if you ask the taxi to bring you directly inside the pier.
option 1: cheaper way is by ferry to the pier of Isabela. 1hour and 40minutes.
option 2: taking the fast craft which is less than an hour to the pier of Isabela.

important note:
it is advisable to check first the situation in the island before setting a visit. i also recommend that you know of someone from the island who can guide you around.

location:
island: Basilan
province: Basilan

GPS location:

6^ 42" 22' N
121^ 58" 20' E

Sunday, June 5, 2011

my island province

if one would trace why i love crossing islands, going to the beaches and embraces the many cultural aspects. you have to look back and see the island where i spent the earlier years of my life. out of the many islands in the country, one would consider our island as one of the most dangerous. earlier this year i had the chance to go home, this time to feature my memories of the island of Basilan. my island province.

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