Tuesday, May 15, 2012

seventeen not so secret things about basilan

now that you already know that i spent my first seventeen years in the island province of Basilan. there's more to being photographed in front of the capitol and going to White Beach of Malamawi island. so here are seventeen of not-so-important but could be interesting things that you might want to know about my island province.
[1] heard of a beach river? it was way back when i was still 8years old when i visited it. the view of the beach captured my memory until now. i've been there only once. access to this part of Basilan is not recommended. it is located on the coast of Lantawan. if you thought Malamawi island's White Beach is the best beach in Basilan. it's not.

[2] Tilapia is rarely seen and eaten in the island province. some locals might not even recognize it as the bountiful kinds of sea fishes are available everyday in the pier. go to the pier as early as 4am to see the fishing boats unload.

[3] Lamitan used to be a town with calesas as main mode of transportation. we would even travel on a weekend just to be able to ride one around the town. so when you go there, you will be fortunate enough if you can spot one.
[4] the church of Sta Isabel in the island could be too ordinary from outside but did you know that its backdrop is a large Italian brick mural similar to those seen in St. Cyril church in Ukraine? when you're there, ask permission from the church office for you to be able to see it up close and check the details. you will be impressed.
[5] along the Isabela channel, there's a military camp and navy dock site that transforms to a resort during the weekend. it is called Fuego-Fuego which when translated to the local dialect, Chabacano, means "Fire-Fire".

[6] though Isabela City is in Basilan island, did you know that it is not under the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM). it belongs to Zamboanga Peninsula (Region IX) apart from the rest of the municipalities of the island. so when you travel from Isabela City to the municipality of Lamitan, you are actually crossing to another region.
[7] often missed out by tourists when they are in Isabela City it would be the Aguada River. its outlet is just in the city center and a cruise to this river will include a view of fish ponds, coconut trees and a mosque by the river. this is not a usual activity. the locals will even be surprised if a traveler would want to do this.

[8] the island of Malamawi does not have energy source to support its small communities. so if you have keen eyes, when the ferry from Zamboanga enters the Isabela channel, you will actually pass under this electric high-pole wire that connects from the main island of Basilan and Malamawi island.

[9] when i was in high school, we did boating on mangrove areas in Eslita and it was a surprise when we met sea dwelling Badjaos who wanted to trade our fruits with their fishes. the local term of  the Badjao for this is "sambi" which means "exchange" or "trade". not sure if they are still doing this. you might want to find out.

[10] Basilan is the second largest island in Mindanao and the largest island in the Sulu archipelago but it is generally mountainous and hilly. so on top of a mountain range is an abandoned airstrip. now a site for motor racing. this is about 30mins away the city center only accessible by a private vehicle.

[11] natural golden pearls including blackish pearls are often sold on mini-kiosk like shops in Isabela. too bad that on my return, these shops were already out of sight. could they have found better buyers somewhere? if you see one, let me know.

[12] the house where i grew up is just behind the Grandstand which is a large open track and field area. most of the helicopters coming from Zamboanga would land on this site. from our house i would run out carrying a camera to take a shot of the helicopters landing. this site also has a great view of Malamawi island and the Isabela channel.

[13] during Holy Week, people would trek Monte Santo in Ubit in Lamitan. it has the station of the cross. the hike up includes passing under a natural tunnel-like bamboo trail.

[14] back when i was 10years old i was fortunate enough to be a junior member that won the national level of the Magnolia Youth Achievement Awards. the project was to expand the thin and slim footpaths of the Badjaos that connects houses in their community. coordinate with the city tourism to bring you to the site.

[15] being apart from the greater Mindanao island, Basilan highly depends on the floating power barge. it can be seen from the main sea port but to see it uplcose, you can either take a small power boat from the dock site to Malamawi.

[16] apart from huge rubber and coconut plantations in Basilan, on the outskirt of the city there's a huge area of oil palm trees. we would go there to get fallen seeds and used it for playing as an alternative to shell fight. you can find this area in between Isabela and Lantawan.

[17] on most province in the Philippines, the market day is on a weekend. not in Lamitan when the Yakan farmers coming from nearby municipalities would converge every Thursday bringing their crops. during our time, they would even come in their traditional clothes. i heard, they still do this.

on your next trip to Basilan. you might want to find out more. 
for tourist assistance, you can directly coordinate with 

Mr. Gerald Louise Tubil - Isabela City Tourism 0917-6344989


XoXo said...

Interesting facts... Thanks for sharing.

Traveling Hawk said...

A lot of interesting facts! I confess I know almost nothing about your country, dong ho but I can learn here.


are you muslim?

Edmar Guquib said...

Very interesting. Laking Basilan po pala kayo.

Hope the power shortage in Mindanao's island provinces like Basilan be given a long term and sustainable solution. :)

Also interesting to know that in the city of Lamitan, calesa is being used. Wow!

Axl Powerhouse Network said...

ggrrr... so much interesting... ako na naiinggit sa pag gala ninyo...
thanks sa mga facts may mailalagay na ulit ako sa aking mini travel notepad.

killerfillers said...

interesting facts indeed.

nuts said...

i have quite a number of friends who live in Basilan. husband also had a short vacation in Basilan when he was young and had a lot of stories to tell about the place. indeed, tilapia or even galunggong is not recognized while fresh and live lapu lapu, which is kind of rare and expensive in manila, is just a common fish in Basilan.

maybe you could also make a post of your old photos like the scene of helicopters landing. that must be great and memorable childhood experience!

jeanny said...

Interesting..actually hindi ko alam ang mga facts na to. Basilan is a lovely place.

Thanks for sharing

docgelo said...

this post could land in the lonely planet ASIA as an intelligent contribution.

nice take, dom.
iba ka talaga!
you always make an effort to be a cut above the rest.

sheng said...

I still have to be very adventurous in order to taste Basilan, i was so unsure of going there before but I am afraid, your post interests me to go places where I have never dreamed of going.

Anonymous said...

i will have a first hand experience of this on june. may similarity na tayo sa amin sa batangas. market day is also thursday and we call it hwubesan. :)

Chyng said...

when you told me youre going to write 17 things about basilan, naisip ko bakit 17? oo nga pala, 17 yrs you spent in basilan. kakainggit naman, you have these things about your hometown to talk about. abangers kami lahat.

make sure isama moko pagbalik jan, lesgow sa Lantawan. yes? ^_^

escape said...

>Prem and Traveling Hawk, thanks!

>Kulapitot, no.

>Edmar, yes i am. the power problem has been there for quite some time. the barge actually cannot support the entire island. still hoping that a resolution will be made to counter power shortage in Basilan and the rest of Mindanao.

Lamitan is an interesting place. you will know more when you get to read the history of the town.

>AXL, byahe na rin. sana nga mapuntahan mo rin ang Basilan.

>killerfillers, thanks!

>nuts, nice to know that. would love to hear some of those things. that's true. i also dont know galunggong until i went to Manila. masarap ang galunggong.

nice idea. let me think about it as all those photos are actually in Basilan. i think it's time to bring some here.

>Jeanny, thanks! just a small way of sharing the better side of my island province.

>DocGelo, hahaha... salamat! i just thought that other people deserves to know things like this from a local's perspective.

>Sheng, that's nice. let me know if you're going there.

>mylifemyrunmytravel, that'll be great! i didnt know that. something i learned from you today. i think you should also share more about Batangas.

>Chyng, hahaha... salamat sa pag-abang. medyo madami nga pero natapos din. sige pagbalik ko. kaya lang kung yung expedition baka hindi ako magsama kasi medyo delikado. kung pasyal lang sabihan kita. dami ding gusto sumama.

Ichan said...

Very interesting facts sir. konti lng po tlga ang alam ko about Mindanao. Thanks po for sharing

lakwatserong tatay said...

wow...kaabang-abang talaga tong series na toh...sana isa po ako sa pwedeng sumama sa inyo sa pagbalik mo sa basilan...kahit ilang araw lang promise...lam nyo naman po email ko..send lang kayo ng invite...isa kagad ako sa positive na sasama..^_^

soloflightEd said...

ayos yung helicopter landing! i remember pinapa-ba-bye kami ng mga adults sa mga helicopters. hehe.

i miss rubber plants/trees, gusto kong tinatanggal yung nakadikit na rubber sa mga rubber trees. hehe

journeyingjames said...

can relate to some of your experiences pre. the last time i was there was 6 years ago pa, gusto ko ulit pumunta.

doi said...

wow! ang dami ngang secrets! i bet you had a wonderful childhood din Dom. exciting yung kalesa as modes of transpo. sana makapunta din ako sa hometown mo balang araw :)

escape said...

>Ichan, really hoping that the mindanao series will give some good reasons for you to visit and learn more about our region.

>Lakwatserong tatay, sure. ill let you know on the next open trip to basilan. salamat ng marami sa pagsunod sa series.

>Ed, grabe nga din yung fascination ko sa helicopters that time. uso yang kaway kaway.

tama. kahit mabaho yung rubber pero masaya pa rin puntahan kasi ganda ng lugar.

>James, tagal na rin pala. sana makaballik ka. salamat nga pala sa pagdaan sa mindanao ngayong taon.

>Doi, yes. exciting nga kasi daming nangyari pero dami din mga di malilimutang mga lugar at byahe. sabihan mo lang ako pagpupunta ka.

OLAN | The Travel Teller said...

Ang daming kong reasons ngayon Dong para bumalik ng Basilan. Di sapat yung day tour ko dun para makita ang kanyang ganda. :) and that RIVER BEACH sounds interesting. :)

Photo Cache said...

very interesting. it pays to hear this from a local/native.

how is the tourism industry in the province now? has it seen increased in number of visitors?

Pietro Brosio said...

Seventeen interesting points, Dong.
Thanks for sharing this information about your beautiful country.

Unknown said...

Mindanao is one of the places I wanna see, thanks for sharing your 17 points and this makes me more interested in going to your homeland.

dominic said...

i just called mr tubil for my basilan adventure on june! thanks for this helpful info.

Elal Lasola said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Elal Lasola said...

gusto ko mag basilan one day! nainggit ako sa malamawi nyo last time :) interesting facts you've enumerated kuya dong!

The Nomadic Pinoy said...

Wow, impressive trivia for all the 17 years you've spent your life there. I suppose mas masarap pa sa tilapia ang nakakain doon since the locals have more choices - dito naman sa NYC, mahal na nga ang tilapia LOL!

Pinoy Adventurista said...

ah,... kaya pala 17, kasi 17 years of your life, you were in Basilan... Very informative post... Hope to visit Basilan again... thanks for sharing... :)

Pinoy Adventurista said...

saan yung house na malapit sa grandstand? yun ba yung haus ng Kuya mo? pinakita nya rin kasi yung ancestral house nyo yung malayo sa city...

Micamyx|Senyorita said...

Gusto ko rin bumisita dyan pero sana kasama kita para mas special :D

Yung tanong sa #11, mukhang yung iba sa kanila lumipat dito sa Greenhills hehe

Reena said...

this is very interesting.


Monte Santo interests me. Magoogle nga to know more about it and to see photos of this.

Thanks for sharing, Idol! Field with choppers when you're growing up, ang saya naman.

Christian | Lakad Pilipinas said...

great tidbits about your hometown dom! good to hear na may pwede rin pala ma contact na tourism officer in the area

Dave Pascht said...

I love your blogs!

Spencer said...

Looks like a great place to visit. Might have to put it on my travel wishlist!

Raft3r said...

pinaka-interesting sakin ay yun #6

thepinaysolobackpacker said...

nice write up Dong! dameng interesting facts about Basilan. so much more to see. cant wait to go back. and yeah, it's not really as scary as most people think.

P.S pakopya ng numero ng tourism ah, lalagay ko sa post ko abt Basilan. thanks! :)

Heart of Rachel said...

Thank you for sharing all these wonderful and interesting things about Basilan. It's a refreshing change from all those negative things I hear on the news.

witsandnuts said...

Very informative. We also have a market day in Laguna pero every Wednesday and Friday yata.


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