Dont Tell my Mother I Spent a Summer Day in Basilan


When my mom asked me where I was going, I told her I was heading to Davao.
Yes, I lied. I dont want her to worry about me. Come on, I don't think I (or anybody) can convince her why I wanted to reach Basilan. Any reason can never be good enough specially with the over-hyped news of kidnapping, massacre, and terrorism all over the province. Basilan easily became one of the most dangerous provinces in the Philippines, a place where a lot of people would not dare go.

As for me, every place has its good and bad side. The simplest idea of seeing the soft side and charm of Basilan already convinced me to go. Surely there is.

For the record, I wouldn't dare go if I didn't know someone who's willing to show me around Basilan.
Good thing I met Dom. And the rest is history.



Our Manila-Zamboanga round trip tickets only cost us P1996- which was already good for the two of us. The 1-hour flight to Zamboanga City was nice and smooth.

Southern Eskapo | Zamboanga -Basilan - Tawi-Tawi

Since we arrived in Zambooanga City beyond schedule, we had our breakfast in one of the fastfood restaurants in town. That's where Dom taught me my first precaution lesson - never seat beside the glass windows. If the place would be bombed, then we'll have less impact of the explosion. Second lesson, be where the people are but dont stay long with the crowd. The usual targets are the crowded areas. Great lessons eh? ^_^


Moving on, it was a nice walk towards the port area. I had a first glimpse of Plaza Pershing, Lantaka Hotel, Paseo del Mar, City Hall, and etc. Btw, I didn't bother to look like a local, surely they'll know right away that Im a tourist. Locals speak Chavacano- a hardcore dialect. It feels like I was in China, I couldn't understand them and I bet only a few of them understand me either.

We bought tickets bound to Isabela for P150 each. It would be an hour of ferry ride to reach Basilan. And at that moment, I was just waiting for Dom's instructions whether I could use my camera or not. Anyway, it didn't matter much as this travel would be beyond pictures and souvenirs. It would really be plain experience.

we walked thru the gate, may shuttle naman pala. toinks!

The ferry ride was comfortable. I still didn't have any doubts as we're approaching the island. Dom shared a lot of wikipedia-level information but I cant absorb them all. What I remembered is that there's a place that serves as a military base camp on weekdays, but becomes a family resort on weekends. A 360-degrees transformation!

hello Basilan!

We arrived in Isabela and honestly it looked like a normal town. Thank goodness there weren't any sign of the slightest commotion to worry about. Dom's brother picked us up and drove us home. It was a short 15-ride from the port. I met his other brother who's celebrating his birthday that day (okay, special mention to Mervin for reminding me to send my regards to kuya Ludwig).

Hormigos' residence, instant home of the bloggers who visit Basilan. ^_^
thank you for the warm welcome

After a quick rest, Dom together with his pamangkin (brother ni Faith), showed me around town. I was really uncomfortable to use my camera. But I wasn't shy to bring an umbrella as we stroll. Toinks.

Me: ano ba yung capitol?
Dom: equivalent ng city hall, pero buong probinsya ang covered
Me: ah ok, sensha na wala kasi nyan samin.


Across the capitol is the town plaza. It looked more maintained that the ones we have here in Manila.

town plaza

I knew taking photographs of these school girls might bring me trouble so I immediately stopped. Im not a spy, Im just a tourist. Dom and his sister-in-law talked about an ice cream vendor who was mistakenly accused as a spy. The Abu Sayyaf beheaded the vendor. Third lesson from Dom: it's important to change our location from time to time.

i meant no harm and im not a spy. im just a turista.

Just across the plaza stands a glorified church. It's nice to know there are at least 20% Christian residents in Basilan.

Sta. Isabel Cathedral

Since 80% of the residents in Basilan are Muslims, this church has always been the most favorite target for a terrorist attack. Having been bombed a lot of times, military soldiers are right outside the church entrance.


Two soldiers in uniform approached me and asked what I was doing. Dom talked to them and explained that I came from Manila and I was just a tourist. I fully understand the security, mejo scary lang yung heavy duty firearms. Hehe

Nonetheless, it's such a great pleasure to see and touch this Last Supper mosaic which came all the way from Italy.

the Last Supper mosaic - upclose

We also strolled inside the market area, it's pretty much the same as we have here in Manila. What's really noticeable was the vendors were never pushy at all. Maybe they're not really used to see tourists around.


After the town tour, it's time to visit some natural wonders. Initially, I planned to visit the White Beach in Malamawi and the Lamitan Falls. Dom discouraged me with the latter. Lamitan is a bit far from the city center and the falls is not that grand at all. He said I should pick the White Beach instead. Knowing Dom who has high standards on beaches, I immediately agreed. White Beach it is!

badjao kids drive the passenger boats

White Beach can be reached by crossing the island of Isabela towards Malamawi Island. Fare is just P5. After that, we still need to travel by land for about 30mins or less. Dom negotiated with some habal-habal drivers who can take us to the beach. We paid P100 for the round trip ride.

arte lang, ayoko talaga magbilad sa arawan ^_^

Very rare that I catch the news on tv that's why I dont really have any idea that an ambush can happen here in Basilan. Sometimes the less you know, the less paranoid you become.

Dom shared, once you're kidnapped by the Abu Sayyaf- they will torture you to death. If you beg to live, they'll make a bargain and ask you to join them. The first test would be an order to kill your own brother.

..ok, that's not hameeyzing.

Anyway... the road to the beach is a regular provincial sight. Unpaved road, high trees, fresh air, and a good number of houses can be seen along the way. And yep, nothing unexpected happened. We reached White Beach safe and sound.

almost there

I was in awe when I had my first glimpse of the beach. I felt very privilege to see this pristine wonder with my own eyes.
..and I bet it would still take a long time before outsiders would begin to visit this unspoiled beach.


it's just very ironic to see a serene spot in a terror town. this adds more beauty to this beach.

the beauty and charm of Basilan

Now I understand why Dom is continuously searching for the best white beaches in the country. Look at this beach where he used to go on weekends. No wonder he has set high standards.

im particular with the sand, and I can say this is one of the finest.

the water is very clear as well


Aside from us, there were only 2 girls who were at the beach that time.
Nevertheless, a lifeguard is on duty for our safety.

more fun in the Philippines! ^_^


For an outsider and a first timer, I didn't feel any tension or anything. A beach is a happy place, even if this one's located in Basilan. We had fun doing almost-candid shots of ourselves. Haha

Basilan, baby!
im more conscious of the sun than those men with shotguns ^_^



What's life without taking chances? Boredom kills, you know.
This Basilan trip may look risky but I didn't want to over-analyze things. For me it's just a plain matter of luck. As far as I know, there's not a red-alert advisory when we visited Basilan so it's safe to go. No one could really tell what will happen so just hope for the best and have fun at the same time.


After all - no guts, no glory.
This is surely one memorable summer escapade that I've experienced in my life. Thank you Dominic and your family for the warm hospitality. I will forever brag that I've met a good Christian family in Basilan.


Better to see something once than to hear about it a thousand times. - Chinese proverb

up next: Tawi-Tawi


for a very well written post of Basilan, please check Dom's blog

67 responses:

Chyng said...

so is it safe to travel to Basilan?

best to ask Dom. =)

Axl Powerhouse Production Inc. said...

ang ganda... tama tomng ginawa mo na mas pinakita ang magandang o posotive side ng basilan di lang puro gyera ang meron dun.. the beach was so nice.. and the heritage ng mga simbahan...

michi said...

i like the last photo. if i were your mother, hindi rin kita papayagan pag nalaman ko na sa basilan ka pupunta. =) ganda ng beach!

michymichymoo said...

Ganda naman pala sa Basilan, though safe nga ba talaga? :)

Roscel said...

reading your blog made me see the pros and cons of basilan. parang anytime something bad might happen but the beauty of the place is worth the risk. ang ganda ng beach. photos pa lang ang ganda na, what more sa personal.

:)

aileen said...

nakakatakot naman yung ginawa niyo. waaaaaaa

ardee sean said...

gusto ko rin yung beach.. ang ganda..

Tin said...

Lupet! Pwede rin bang maging friend si Dom para makapunta rin ako diyan? :P

Allen said...

e maganda naman pala sa Basilan e. halata nga lang yung tension dahil sa baril ni kuya. hahahaha.

dong ho said...

it was a pleasure Chyng and nice to see our province pride to you.

sumikat yung bahay namin. hahaha...

Berylle Kaye Hong said...

ganda ng beach!! Parang natakot nmn ako sa lifeguard.. Tapang mo chyng!! :) But u are right, no guts no glory :)

Glenn Encinares said...

wow ang ganda ng lugar kaya lang baka kapag pumunta ako sa lugar na yan hindi rin ako tatagal :) may pagka nerbyosa ako :)

Sayang ang Basilan napakaganda ng beach sana ma-improve at gawin tourist destination, kaya lang hindi safe sa ngayon. Sana dumating yong panahon na talagang pwede na siyang puntahan ng mga tao :)

chino said...

You must be very brave to travel in Basilan. Maganda naman siya talaga , there is really no question about it. Kaya lang ang dami kong contemplations marinig ko palang ang Basilan. And I am sure someone would agree with me.

Sheng said...

Tapang mo sis chyng. Pero worth it naman :) Ganda ng beach.

khantotantra said...

love the white beach.

ANg ganda. Parang ansarap magbabad at magpakanognog kapag ganyan ang tatampisawan ko. lols

Pinoy Adventurista said...

Thanks for the mention... :)

At may dalang umbrella? syempre! hehehe!!!

Yang Malamawi ang babalikan ko next time! hameeyzing!

bertN said...

Is that lifeguard a member of the military or a private guard? I imagined his job is to protect the beach-goers from the dual threat of kidnapping and drowning. Is the peace and order situation there that bad?

Chingky Quijano said...

Super risky pero super ganda nung white beach. Wala bang shortcut na dun na agad yung diretso? Hehe. Anyway, best experience din ang medyo kinakabog kabog ang dibdib sa posibleng maganap. Hihi. :)

Nicole said...

pangarap ko din makapunta diyan. :) Tapang mo teh!

Micamyx|Senyorita said...

I wanna go there too but i will only go kung kasama si Koyah Dom :D eversince bata ako curious na ako about sa way of life ng mga badjao din. that church is beautiful <3

MarLiesTravels said...

You're such a daredevil! Good thing everything went well! If only the place was safer, more people would be able to enjoy the beautiful beach.. :)

lakwatserong tatay said...

astig...panalo...excited na talaga ko..ililihim ko rin yan sa wife ko pagnagpunta ko sa Basilan...^_^ oks lang ba dom...^_^

gillboard said...

ganda ng beach, kaya lang medyo naturn off ako dun sa sundalong may baril.

katakot.

Sendo said...

haha....the less you know,, the less paranoid you'd become...but i'm learning a lot of things with this one...hahaha...but still the beach looks inviting..and with kuys dong's "high standard" on beaches.....might fly here anytime before 30... :) ayus ah...ok lang yan, let's go to basilan!! if it's your time, no choice...hehe... :) weeeh :)

marxtermind said...

Chyng, ang ganda worth it ang Basilan trip mo! Ganda ng beach... =)

Dom, pa-ampon din ako pag nag Basilan ako but not now or not too soon. Pag hindi na ako takot and pag may life insurance na ako! =)

Photo Cache said...

the beach is worth the trouble indeed. but i'm scared of men with guns.

Edmaration etc said...

So ang ganda pala ng terrorist training ground na yan! Hahaah.. Hope the governent will address problems of insurgencies in this beautiful island province :)

haaay.. Very nice travel with Sir Dom Ms Chyng!

blissfulguro said...

you're one brave girl...

hi dom! :)

hihi

Lea said...

Chyng, ang tapang mo!!! Di ko kaya yon. Bow ako sayo talaga. In fairness, I love the beach. Ang ganda... It's just too bad that Basilan has problems. :( Sayang!

Lloyd said...

Grabe Chyng...hindi ko kaya ang level na to..nakakabilib..pero still worried parin ako..kung ako nga si mommy palo ka! =) ingat ha...

I.wright... said...

ang ganda ng beach! though parang scary puntahan.. =)

Hoobert the Awesome said...

I understand kung bakit di mo sinabi sa mom mo na pupunta ka ng Basilan. Kahit yata mom ko magffreak out talaga. Pero like what you said, each place has its good and bad side. Much of these paranoia of Basilan being a dangerous place is brought by the media. Hay, nakakalungkot lang.

Pero medyo scary nga nung may 2 police officers ang nag-approach sa`yo dun. Buti na lang kasama mo si Kuya Dom. :)

Untied Escape said...

Hardcore trip talaga... Asteeeeeg!!! ayun lang masasabi ko dahil super stunned sa beach... :p

joy said...

As usual breathtaking scenery and a well written blog:) Hope you can join me in my brainstorming tags. Details in my post with the same title:)

Ichan said...

Hameyzzing tlga! may halong kaba at saya! wala akong masabi =)

Josiah said...

Ngayon ko lang nalaman na taga-Basilan pala si Dom. Akala ko may mga kapatid lang siya naka-base dun. astig!

Ganda sa Basilan. One of the best places are really the places where terror is. Hindi kasi madevelop yung lugar, so retained ang natural na ganda niya. :)

Arvin U. de la Peña said...

ang ganda ng mga kuha mong larawan.....safe naman talaga diyan sa basilan basta hindi lang mag alburoto ang mga rebelde....

Gracie said...

Parang Sagada trip mo ba yun Ms Chyng? Don't tell your mom din :D I wonder how your mom reacted dun sa Indonesia trip naman. Grabe. More extremes sa next adventures idol?

zherwin said...

agree, NO GUTS, NO GLORY. :)

and the White Beach is the reason why I want to go there.

this is one experience that you'll never forget and would want to share to your children and your children's children.

Makati Condo Rental said...

Wow nice adventure and pictures!

ken of fullpacked said...

wow!
as in wow.. superb!

Rizza said...

Very true, no guts, no glory! :) Amazing travel experience ito, Ms. Chyng. U got great photos as well. Keep exploring ♥ :)

joei ♥ said...

Grabe! Hats off to you!! A REAL traveler! :)


www.joeiandme.com

Camz said...

Wow, Basilan! I don't think we'll ever get the guts to visit. Pero ang ganda ng beach, white na white. :D

Chyng is your name? Hahahaha my nickname is Ching kasi, pang second ka pa lang na nakilala kong same na nickname :P

reyah said...

now she know.....hehehehe, pero ang ganda pala ng Basilan ha!

Orville said...

Wala na akong masabi.. Swerte ka na.. Ikaw na.. Dami ko ring natutunang precautions sa pagbasa ko ng post mo na to.. Galing.. ang isang friend ko anjan ngayon sa Basilan. Sana nga di sya mapagkamalang spy hehe.. Thanks.

Theonoski said...

mukhang safe naman pala sa basilan, masabihan nga si dom na ipasyal kami sa basilan!

hehehe

dibale nang paranoid, safe naman hehe

The Nomadic Pinoy said...

hindi lang pang-arte yung scarf mo Chyng, I think it helped project modesty on your part kasi a woman's hair is not supposed to be seen in public. Bagay pa nga sa yo haha!

Chyng said...

^ mas ok sana kung hindi ako nagsleeveless. toinks! ako lang nakasando all over town =)

Malditang "Kura"cha said...

kahit sinong nanay mappraning sa Basilan. hahaha! adik ka talaga. Halos solo nyo yung beach a... nice! Pero salamat na lang sa picture. I really wouldn't dare. Scary talaga siyang puntahan '_'

Sa mga hindi katagalungang lugar, mahirap magpanggap na hindi turista. Isang tanong mo lang alam na. hahaha!

Favor, pa-ask naman si Dom kung san ang pinaka paborito niyang beach sa Pilipinas. Assignment mo sa holy week. chos! hahaha! See you soon girl. muah!

Robbie said...

Naloka naman ako sa lifeguard na may shotgun! Hahaha.

Though most people might say you're one brave lady to go all the way to Basilan, I'd say curious ka lang talaga and adventurous. Kasi from all of your trips, we already know you are fearless eh. I think you just really have that thirst for adventure and sincere curiosity to find the good side in everything.

CHAR! Meganon?!?! Hahaha.

bundoKaholics said...

sabe nila safe naman daw. nalungkot ako bigla. ayoko makidnap at mabehead. :(

Ray for En Route said...

Oh wow look at that beach! Walang sinabi ang Boracay sa linis!

At hanga din ako sa tapang niyo hehe

Christian | Lakad Pilipinas said...

di nagbabasa ng blog mo nanay mo chyng? lagot ka pag nabasa to haha, ako nga kinakabahan habang binabasa ko yung entry mo eh :P

Ken Agsaway said...

parang gusto ko din pumunta sa Basilan.

BTW, yun font color ng article mo iba na?

doi said...

nakakapanghinayang na di man lang kayo nakalangoy sa beach. hehehe
while reading this parang am having second thoughts if i wanna go to Basilan too :) sguro pag si Dom kasama, baka will reconsider. lol

Aaron Dave Francisco said...

Hanga na talaga ko sayo, ate chyng. Haha. Nakapag-Basilan ka. ;)

Rizalenio said...

Ang ganda sa Basilan. You've been to a road less travelled. Kung kuya mo ako at nabasa ko ito, katakot takot na sermon aabutin mo sa akin...na bakit di mo ako sinama. Haha. I want to go to Basilan! :)

docgelo said...

Sta Isabel Cathedral certainly looks something like those churches in Rome I see on TV masses or Vatican coverages. Thanks for sharing! :)

Batang Lakwatsero said...

awwweee.. ang ganda ng Basilan. and you experienced it with "The" Dong Ho :)

pangarap kong makatravel din kayong dalawa, kasi i can see a part of me in you, hndi ko kasi matawag na adventure ang isang trip hanggat walang sipa ng risk :)

pero inpernes, natakot ako dun sa sinapit ng vendor na nagpipicture. yikes.

mars said...

Another girl power move! Congrats on conquering this one on your list, chyng! =)

Edsan/Island Vacations said...

Hi Chyng,

Congratulations for beating the path widely avoided by many... including me. Reading your blog had confirmed my remarks about you during our meet up in Bucas Grande Island... Astig ka Talaga!

Edrick Orteza and John Christopher Bajamonde said...

hi!! taga Basilan po ako at Sacristan po ako sa Simbahan ng Santa Isabel de Portugal.. and i Really appreciated ung mga pictures sa loob ng aming cathedral... sa totoo lang po.. di naman nakakatakot dito... safe sa mga lawless element.nakabantay 24/7 ang mga sundalo.. kaya lahat ay safe.. thank you po..

Anonymous said...

Assalamualaikum! (greetings from muslim) i'm actually from basilan particualrly at MALUSO, but i studied at ISABELA (capital of basilan) INDEED one of my professor had gone to boracay and he said na mas mganda ang white beach kesa sa bora.. HAHA *laugh*

hindi naman poh tlga nakakatakot dito, there are particular places lang talaga na palaging may gera.. More on politics poh talaga and religion ung pasimuno o ung nagiging rason ng mga bomba/gyera dito.. salamat sa pag appreciate :)

Anonymous said...

add me on my fb account i have some photos there taken at white beach:) bhemsar18@yahoo.com

marami pa pong mggandang places dito sa basilan :)

Bound for Two said...

Dom's Malamawi entry brought me here. Wow na wow, I bet marami pa hidden treasures ang Basilan.

cha said...

this blog brought me to Malamawi Island just three weeks ago. had a great time. thanks! :-)

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...