Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Don't Tell My Mother I'm In Basilan

It is unfortunate that only the brave can travel this part of the country. I wouldn't have dared too, if not for the Basileños I've befriended in Zamboanga. They said Basilan is not as dangerous as the media projects, so long as we stay away from certain unsafe, off-limits Abu Sayyaf areas. This was back in 2006. The month we visited, Khadaffy Janjalani was reported dead.

We took a fastcraft from Zamboanga to Isabela, Basilan (one hour). We were greeted by an insanely hospitable group of fishermen selling their fresh catch.

basilanfb1

Can't believe I'm actually here!

We politely declined and walked to the other side of the pier where boats to Malamawi Island depart.

My kind hosts did not let me pay for anything, so I have no idea how much we paid for the boat ride. When we docked Malamawi's makeshift port, we hired motorcycles to get to the beach. I was surprised how beautiful their white beach is. I guess I was captivated by its charm of isolation. Admission fee is P10, small cottage P50, big cottage P200.


Left: Sending an SMS to the whole family, "I'm still alive." Right: Uber excited to take a dip!

While the others grilled our seafood (we bought from Malamawi White Beach Resort), I stripped down to my two-piece and everyone just gawked. I was terrified I did an illegal thing! One of my hosts laughed and said, "I think this is the first time they've seen someone in a bikini". I was relieved, but only did a quick dip since some guys started taking videos of me with their mobile phones.


Malamawi Island's White Beach.

After lunchtime, we headed back to mainland and I was introduced to another Basileño. In Lamitan, I met Toto, a cycling enthusiast who used to join small fashion shows and modeling contests alongside model/actor John Estrada (a Basileño himself). Toto said that my hosts were 'showing me off', not just showing me around. Apparently, one of them told him, "You gotta meet this sporty, suicidal Manileña".


Bulingan Falls, a 15-minute ride from Lamitan town.

He agreed to come with us to Bulingan Falls, where we spent our afternoon before catching the last fastcraft back to Zamboanga. We decided not to spend the night in town just to be safe.

I was able to know my hosts better while we were lazing by the falls. Most of them have never been outside of Basilan and Zamboanga, and the only other girl (aside from me) Karen, had a crush on Khadaffy Janjalani when they were still in school. Such a shame I don't have any form of contact with them now. It would be great to visit their hometown once more - and I might still not have enough guts to go by myself.

I hope more Filipinos would have the chance to see the humble beauty of Basilan, don't be afraid that 'breathtaking' might just be too literal.

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30 comments:

flipnomad said...
November 17, 2009 at 3:08 PM

wow! what an interesting trip... would love to go to basilan and tawi tawi in the future, i heard alot of nice things about those places...

☮Pinay Travel Junkie☮ said...
November 17, 2009 at 5:36 PM

yeah, interesting indeed - and in a scary way! really hope you could visit basilan, stay safe.

Glenn Paolo A. Goopio said...
November 18, 2009 at 1:10 AM

Holy crud! You went there?! I live in Mindanao and not once have I ever thought of going to that place! How were the people? I heard the all wear guns in public... Hehehe. =/

☮Pinay Travel Junkie☮ said...
November 20, 2009 at 10:02 PM

Haha! Well, I saw a lot of military men roaming around with guns, but not the civilians. When I was invited, I took it as a dare. But seriously, I sent my funeral program to my sis while I was on that ferry from Zamboanga to Bailan :)

hezron said...
January 12, 2010 at 8:35 PM

I also want to visit basilan. Many are saying that this is a very beautiful place.

☮Pinay Travel Junkie☮ said...
January 13, 2010 at 1:21 PM

basilan is definitely beautiful, and the people are friendly too. hope you get the chance to visit there someday.

pinaysolobackpacker said...
January 19, 2010 at 5:17 PM

wow! I have to gather tons of courage to brave this town alone. I guess when one mentions Basilan the 1st thing that comes in our mind is "dangerous" ,it's sad that,somehow with all the news we see on tv it's been instilled in our minds that this beautiful town is chaotic. Thank you for depicting Basilan in non-traditional way, you just showed that like any other islands in the Philippines,Basilan has it's hidden charm -->it's natural wonders and it's people. I'd love to visit this place in the near future. Saludo ako sayo Pinay travel junkie! =)

☮☮Pinay Travel Junkie☮ said...
January 20, 2010 at 1:14 AM

thanks for that wonderful feedback. it really means a lot to me. honestly, until now i could not believe i was able to step foot on basilan. guess i was just really lucky to go there at a peaceful time, and the locals i have befriended gave me all the courage i needed.

hopefully you get the chance to visit there soon. mabuhay ang mga pinay!

pinoy boy journals said...
April 14, 2010 at 2:46 AM

no better title than don't tell my mother..
my God, you're brave!!!

☮Pinay Travel Junkie☮ said...
April 14, 2010 at 2:05 PM

Haha! I have been watching a lot of episodes of that show lately, and I just suddenly thought of changing my blog title since it sounds more apt. No copyright infringement intended!

arze arce said...
April 17, 2010 at 10:38 AM

don't tell your mother that your in basilan... but most probably dahil mataas ang page rank moh, baka nakitah nah ni mader moh e2... hehehe :) I had dream of going into that place din in the future... di naman akoh nata2kot kasi I look like dem, may mukhang indian... hahahaha :)

☮Pinay Travel Junkie☮ said...
April 17, 2010 at 5:24 PM

Hahaha! Yeah, she already found out. I heard about the recent bombings in Basilan. So it's too risky again to go there. Hay.

Anonymous said...
June 10, 2010 at 6:11 PM

tnx for promoting our beautiful basilan. It such an honor that you loved our place thou. As im looking for a pic of bulingan falls because i never had a chance to visit my homeland due to heavy works, i accidentally hit pinaytraveljunkie. and wow i was amazed by your courage to visit my place. because many people believed that basilan is not a safer place to go. And I want to thank you for that. Anyway, miss ko na ang basilan 4 yrs na ako hndi nakauwi dun.huhuhu. Sana guys visit kau sa place namin and to miss travel junkie,thank you again for sharing your wonderful words about our place. visit ka ulit dun ha. :)

☮Pinay Travel Junkie☮ said...
June 10, 2010 at 9:53 PM

The pleasure is mine. Thanks for taking your time to write a comment. I really feel sad that only a few travelers make it to Basilan. It's such a beautiful place. I sure hope I could visit again!

Anonymous said...
July 31, 2010 at 8:02 PM

My wife is from Lamitan. I will probably never get to visit Basilan or the in-laws, so stories like this help alot to understand the people and country. Keep up the good work and be safe in your travels.

☮Pinay Travel Junkie☮ said...
August 2, 2010 at 10:04 AM

Perhaps someday you will still have the chance to visit Basilan. Let us hope our new government can help solve the issues of this province. Thanks for dropping by!

saggi said...
August 20, 2010 at 12:02 PM

Hi. Nice post. The many provinces in Mindanao could sure be at par with other famous tourist destinations in Luzon and Visayas. I hope our government would work double time to secure peace and order in troubled areas. Meantime, there are also other great places worth visiting for like Lake Sebu and Gumasa. Safe trip on your future travels :)

wanderlass said...
August 20, 2010 at 2:14 PM

I was so close--Sta. Cruz Island, stone throw away from Basilan. One day I'll get there too. Bulingan Falls is awesome.

☮Pinay Travel Junkie☮ said...
August 20, 2010 at 7:22 PM

Hey Saggi! I would love to visit Lake Sebu someday. And I agree, the government should really do something about our country's not-so-peaceful areas.

Thanks for dropping by. Safe trips!

☮Pinay Travel Junkie☮ said...
August 21, 2010 at 6:47 PM

I so loved Pink Beach, Lil! Yeah, it is indeed very close to Basilan. Hope you could visit Bulingan Falls soon, it's way more awesome up close.

ahgarcera said...
June 4, 2011 at 6:40 PM

whoaaaa I would definetely visit this place in the future, the question would be just when... hehehehe :) Media Please Please! Isolate your news, not all part of Mindanao is dangerous.

Pinay Travel Junkie said...
June 4, 2011 at 9:30 PM

Arze, so true! Media should give Mindanao a breather :)

IamDP said...
June 5, 2011 at 3:16 PM

hay gusto ko pumunta din jan.... then jolo.... I always hear from susan calo medina how beautiful the beaches are there in mindanao....

Pinay Travel Junkie said...
June 5, 2011 at 3:18 PM

Me too! So curious about Jolo. I wonder if I'll have the chance to visit Sulu someday...

adventurousfeet said...
June 5, 2011 at 7:58 PM

very imteresting :) this is a relief, made me want to go to basilan.
baka may video scandal ka na nyan hihi. ikaw na sexy! :)

Pinay Travel Junkie said...
June 5, 2011 at 8:12 PM

Haha! Video scandal talaga. Sana naman wala, that's so early 2000!

Anonymous said...
January 7, 2012 at 7:56 PM

Hi!im a resident here in Basilan.im happy you find basilan beautiful.You should have stayed longer coz there is still a lot of nice places here you haven't seen.Before my wedding our pre nup pics were shot it lots of beautiful spots here.It was more like an ad of Basilan.Hope you drop by next time and explore some more! <3

Che said...
January 10, 2012 at 4:04 AM

The best to! hahaha. I wanna do the same trip someday. :)

Elal Jane Lasola said...
February 29, 2012 at 6:17 PM

Waaaa. Gusto ko sana i-include to pero sabi dangerous daw if walang host. Hehe Pag iisipan ko muna. :D Heard about the yellow polka dot bikini story sa bagets so I searched for this! Hehe

Kika Laurico said...
November 23, 2012 at 7:37 PM

taga dyan ang parents ko and lagi akong nakakabisita sa mga relatives ko dyan since 45 minutes lang ang byahe from Zamboanga City to Lamitan. safe po dyan. di nakakaabot ang mga rebelde sa Bulingan kase maraming mga cafgus

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