Philippines places to See
ANOTHER WORLD. Boats sailing along the main canal of Sitangkai. All photos by Glen Santillan
Are you dreaming of an adventure in the southernmost part of the Philippines? Let me take you through this visual tour to the province of Tawi-Tawi. Parts of Mindanao are known as conflict areas, but the province itself is home to some of the most beautiful peace-seeking and friendly people in the country. (READ: 9 spectacular places to visit in Mindanao)
With this, the province has always kept its beauty intact.
Let's begin with Bongao.
SILENCE. Spectacular sunrise in Sanga-Sanga Channel from the bridge connecting Bongao and Sanga-Sanga. All photos by Glen Santillan
Most travels to Tawi-tawi start off in Bongao, the capital and the most densely populated municipality of the province. The flurry of colors and movement – from the tricycles to the merchandise of fish, vegetables – all point to the vibrant life in the province.
A short hike up the island is Bud Bongao (Bongao Peak), the highest peak in the province. The grassy peak of the island is perfect for watching the hustle and bustle of the town below while waiting for the sunset.
BLUEST BLUE. Another view from Bongao Peak
REFLECTION. Stunning view from Bud Bongao Peak
There are also friendly monkeys on the hike to the top, so pack extra bananas for sharing. Bongao also has dive sites, particularly in Pahut, where you’ll see not only corals and fish, but a World War II plane wreck as well.
How to get there:
From Manila, Cebu or Davao, take a plane to Zamboanga City. From Zamboanga you can either take another plane to Tawi-Tawi for about an hour or you can opt to take a boat that will bring you to Bongao in less than 24 hours. The airport in Tawi-Tawi is located in Sanga-Sanga so you will have to take a tricycle to bring you to Bongao.
PART OF HISTORY. Front view of Sheik Makhdum Mosque, the oldest mosque in the Philippines
Southeast of Bongao is Simunul, an unassuming island that is most famous not for its beaches or its beautiful waters, but for being home to the first mosque in the country. In 1380, Sheik Karimul Makhdum built the first mosque in the Philippines at Bohe Indangan. (READ: Beautiful mosques in the Philippines)
The original structure, made of wood and other light materials, was destroyed by a fire after about 500 years of existence. It is now replaced with a concrete mosque, which houses the pillars of the original mosque. The mosque is now declared as a National Landmark after President Benigno Aquino signed R.A. 10573 declaring Sheik Makhdum Mosque a National Hstorical Landmark.