INTRODUCTION TO BASILAN
Let me start by saying that there is Jollibee in Basilan and there are no Jollibees is some Luzon provinces say, Aurora, Benquet, Apayao and Ifugao among others. Also, Basilan has two (2) cities and some Luzon provinces have none or only one city. That being said, Basilan is economically well-off and worthy to visit even without mentioning its huge ecotourism potentials.
Basilan is the largest of the many islands in Sulu Archipelago. It has 11 towns and 2 cities. Though majority of its population are Muslims, there is a good number of Christians in the province which is indicated by the presence of the Diocese of Basilan.
HOW TO GET TO BASILAN
The gateway to Basilan is Isabela City, its capital.
To get to Isabela City, take a 45-minute fast craft from Zamboanga City Port. The port in Zamboanga is near the old Post Office Building. Weesam Express operates daily from Zamboanga to Isabela and vice versa.
Conventional ferries (1 hour 30 minutes) and RORO (6 hours) also operate from Zambonaga to Basilan Port and Lamitan Port.
WHERE TO SLEEP IN BASILAN
Though I did not stay here for a night, the following are some of the accommodation facilities in Basilan:
- Anson’s Hotel (Located in Barangay Sumagdang)
- Basilan Hotel (Marketside)
- Casa Rosario ( Near the Port)
- Farmland Resort (Mountain Resort located in Barangay Lanote)
- Royal Issra Hotel (Marketside)
- Sofia Hotel (Near the Port)
WHERE TO EAT IN BASILAN
Sugbahan sa Basilan
There are some small restaurants in the market side and city proper
WHAT TO SEE IN BASILAN
Basilan offers a wide array of natural wonders. In Isabel City alone, the following can be easily accessed:
- Balagtasan Falls in Barangay Balagtasan is the biggest in Basilan
- Basilan Capitol
- Busay Falls in Barangay Busay
- Calabasa Beach in Barangay Latuan
- Calvario Peak in Barangay Calvario
- Fuego Fuego Beach
- Isabela City Hall
- Kaun Purnah Mosque located beside a Muslim village of stilt houses
- Kumalarang Falls in Barangay Kumalarang
- Malamawi White Beach in Malamawi Island
- Menzi Agricultural Plantation has hundred of hectares of Rubber trees
- Sta Isabel Cathedral has a beautiful mosaic altar imported from Italy
- Sumagdang Beach in Barangay Sumagdang
- Tabiawan Falls in Barangay Tabiawan
- Twin Parks in the City Proper
- Balas Cove iin Barangay Balas
- Bulingan Falls in barangay Bulingan is just along the highway
- Calugusan Beach in Barangay Calugusan
- Datu Kalun’s park and Shrine
- Lamitan Museum
- Tumakid Beach in Barangay Tumakid
- Atong Atong Beach in Barangay Atong Atong
- Guanan Island
- Salakot Hill
- Luuk Bair Beach in Barangay Luuk Bait
- Mangat Beach in Barangay Mangal
MY BASILAN ITINERARY
I just did a Day Tour with the assistance of my two local guides given by the City Tourism Office.
I took the first trip of Weesam Express from zamboanga to Isabela. In Isabela Port, I was fetched by my tour guides and they showed me around the City and Malamawi Island. We did not go as far as Lamitan than time because of the heavy rains. I went back to Zamboanga taking the last trip of Weesam Express.
Not for anything else, check the peace and order situation before deciding to set foot in Basilan and make sure, I repeat, make sure you have local guide who has been referred by a reputable person to you. Trust your instinct and no one else. Safety and secutiry should be of primary importance.
Check out the blog of Dong Ho who hails from Basilan – http://www.escapeislands.com for a more detailed and personal stories about this home province.
Don’t be afraid to visit Basilan. Just be very extra careful.