A heaven on earth. A piece of paradise. A beauty to behold. Welcome to Basilan!
Discerning travelers in search of their next unexplored destination need to look no further than the Province of Basilan.
Why visit the place?
One of the Philippine’s best-kept secrets, Basilan reflects the true description of an island paradise. It never fails to wow locals and tourists alike with its natural bounties and picturesque attractions. No wonder why it is touted as “An Island of Hope” since its early years of existence.
The province is a part of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) and is the largest and northernmost of the major islands of the Sulu Archipelago.
A gateway to business and a key leisure destination, it was once considered the trading center of the metropolis.
What to do while in Basilan?
At this most sought-after sanctuary off the southern coast of Zamboanga Peninsula, life is lived and laughter is shared over a laid-back and stress-free lifestyle.
Places like Basilan are truly a step back in time. Being there seems like you are drawn back to the olden days where you can experience spearfishing in a lake in the Panigayan fishing village and go swimming in the waterfalls of the Kumalarang River.
You will see mangroves and Samal houses on stilts aligned all throughout the kilometer-wide channel that opens to the port of Isabela, the provincial capital.
Its pristine white and windswept Sumagdang Beach entices you to take a dip, gather shells, and perhaps never leave. Its cool inland resorts also dare take you away for a respite.
Basilan also boasts of a peninsula point called Punta Matangal in Tuburan. It offers a haven for surfers very similar to that of the north shore of Hawaii.
Spend your holiday by visiting some of its notable tourist sites such as Taguime Shrine, Santa Isabel Cathedral, Calvario Peak on which the Chapel of Peace stands, Kaum Purnah Mosque, Caves, White Beach, Rubber Block Plantations, Bulingan Falls, historical landmarks and museums.
Or join in the fun in Lamitan as it celebrates its “Lami-Lamihan Festival,“ highlighting the preservation of Yakan Cultural Heritage and showcasing the unique colorful Yakan cloth and cultural presentations.
How to get there?
If you are from Manila or Cebu, take a flight to Zamboanga City. Then, ride in a jeepney bound for Canelar and walk towards the port.
From there, a boat ride of 1 hour and 45 mins (for conventional passenger ferries), or 1 hour (for a fast craft), will take you to Isabela and Lamitan.
The fare ranges from P20 (student and senior citizen’s discounted fare on some conventional ferries) to P70 (first-class with aircon).
Fast craft usually charge P140 for ordinary and P170 with aircon. Terminal fee is 11 pesos in Zamboanga City and P4 in Isabela port.
A one-way ticket to Basilan via Weesam Express’ fast craft costs P140 and P170 for ordinary and first class (air-conditioned) fare respectively.
Before entering the Basilan road, you will come across the Malamawi Island, where the Badjao, Samal-Luaans-Banguingui and Muslim cemeteries are situated.
Although the official language is Filipino and English, the lingua franca in the province is Chavacano, a Spanish-based creole dialect.
So when you visit Basilan, greet everyone your warmest “Buenas dias” (Good morning), “Buenas tardes” (Good afternoon) or “Buenas noches” (Good evening/night) or simply say “Gracias” to express your gratitude for the Zamboangueños’ hospitality.
An oasis combining adventure and relaxation for the most perceptive traveler, there is indeed a lot to discover in the island. So, seize the splendor of the place. Please say “Si Si” (Yes) to Basilan!