Wednesday, January 28, 2009

The beauty that is Bongao

The islands of Sulu and Tawi Tawi are almost always in the news. It seems that from the mainstream media's viewpoint, any of the islands beyond Zamboanga is strife country. So why did we venture here despite the bad press? Maybe it's a strange fascination with Mindanao. Surely, the country's second-largest island group hides beauty that seems to be gilded with danger. Maybe it's also an attraction to something distant and remote -- after all, it is said that Tawi Tawi got its name from the Malay word, "jaui" which means far.

Coming here, we wanted to look past the headlines and be more open-minded. so after nearly 17 hours on the sea, we finally landed in Bongao, the capital of Tawi Tawi. It was rainy. we were hungry. Oh, we were just eager to freshen up before finding something to make productive use of the afternoon.

The friendly people of the Tourism Council met with us as we were settling in at the Beachside Inn. We were in touch with them months ago but we thought it was just for mere formality. as it turned out, they were intent on taking us around.One morning, we surveyed the town from the Kapitolyo which is nestled on a hill. In the early hours of daybreak, the town appears a picture of tranquility (save for the many joggers who use the steep hill to test their mettle and perhaps work up an appetite). Bongao looks beautiful enveloped in the mists.

When the fog lifted, the lay of the land glimmered in the warming sunlight -- the Bajau village to the north and Mt. Bongao to the west. Ahh, this is indeed a beautiful place to be in.Visitors' info: The Tawi Tawi Tourism Council warmly welcomes guests, ready to provide assistance and coordination work. Contact Salvacion Rescadora, Provincial Tourism Officer at 0910.6716367 or Sirikit Arip, Supervising Tourism Operation Officer at 0919.4325553. Transpo precautions: Some motorcycle drivers we rode with early on charged us up to five times the normal rate so beware. Rides within town proper costs P20/pax. Outside, negotiate to get reasonable rates. Fuel prices in Tawi Tawi cost almost double than that of Manila prices which may explain the overcharging of some drivers.


escape said...

tawi tawi was never on my list of places to visit in the philippines but this post made me think twice. i never knew it was safe to travel there and that they are friendly. truly we are one in the attitude of being hospitable.

because of this post, ill make sure to visit tawi tawi in 2010.

Photo Cache said...

you have more of this post right? you just whet my appetite with these few photos. love the mist photo.

Anonymous said...

the place seems to be peaceful..

Lantaw said...

hay ka ganda ng ilaw sa unang piktyur!

Anonymous said...

Tawi-tawi is a really surprising place. Naku, that morning scene of Bongao is really breathtaking. I can still imagine being there seeing your pics.

Erick said...

love the 1st picture bro. looks very peaceful.

Sidney said...

Looking at your pictures is is indeed very tempting to go there... but... maybe I don't want to see my face on CNN ;-)
My favorite of this set is #2... extremely beautiful with the fog.

Unknown said...

i love the first pic as well :) kudos to you! you were brave enough to visit tawi-tawi :) thanks to you, we got to see how beautiful the place is.

lagal[og] said...

dom, if and when you go, will help you coordinate with the tourism council. matutuwa sila niyan.

photocache, that bongao in the mist is my favorite as well :) do watch out for future posts on tawi tawi

pao, i think the aim of this series of posts is to somehow tell people tawi tawi is a serene place to visit

bai allan, paborito ko rin yan :)

wulfriend, parang kelan lang 'no? would love to go back given the time and means to do so :D

erick, thanks thanks

sidney, maybe it's because you'll stand out over there :)

mitz, only too glad to share our travels with you. enjoy the ride!

kbongy said...


wow! nagulat ako dun ah. you brave tawi-tawi!

ang galing-galing talaga! good job!

your work gave the place a new perspective and your words, a new life to it.


lagal[og] said...

bongsky, you'll be surprised how quiet it is in tawi tawi. nadadamay lang talaga siya sa jolo and basilan. thanks for dropping by!

Happy Trails said...

it's really good that you featured tawi tawi. nice captures and stories.


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