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The Beauty of Tawi Tawi Province

Tawi Tawi Province is located in the southern end part of the Philippines. It is about an hour to reach Sandakan, Malaysia. The only Jump off point by plane coming from Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao is the airport of Zamboanga. There is two airline fly to this province, namely Cebu Pacific Air and Platinum. Another option to reach the province is by sea route from Zamboanga. City to Jolo, Sulu to Tawi Tawi it will take more or less 20hrs.

I have been planning to explore this province a long time ago, booked a flight in several times but I didn't have the courage to step foot that because I heard a lot of (tsismis) negative feedback on the TV that this province is not safe. When Cebu Pacific Air had a 1 fare, it came to my mind to book a flight again and that time I was really thinking about it if this was the right time to explore.

Since I’m from the Visayas. I booked a flight to Davao connecting to Zamboanga instead of Manila to escape the busy runway of Naia and at the same time to shorten the travel time.

The airline had a 4 times flight a week, Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and Sunday. A good friend of mine referred me to a family who lives in front of the Sanga Sanga. Airport the Family of Ate Nursida or people known her as Ate Sidang.

The plane leaves Zamboanga airport around 6:05 am. After an hour of flying, we finally touched down at Sanga Sanga Airport. When I left the terminal, I felt safer because there were many police officers at the entrance/exit of the airport. I was instructed by ate sidang the direction going to their home, but I got lost hahaha, so I texted her to please pick me up at the airport instead.

When I arrived at her home. I was welcome with her 5 adorable kids. They prepared me breakfast before my tour in Bongao. Before flying to Tawi Tawi, I've decided to bring some school supplies from Zamboanga for her 5 kiddos. The eldest was in grade 4 already.

When Kuya Nars arrived, ate sidang husband, prepared his tricycle for the tours of the day, left the house around 9 am, and decided to make the trek in bongao peak before the city tour. I am not really a fan of trekking. I do a trek, but sometimes quiet because I worked and lived on Boracay Island. A year ago, there was no staircase going to the peak. It is challenging to trek if it’s raining, but now there is. Before heading straight to the Bongao peak jump-off point, we bought some bananas for the monkey we encountered while trekking.

Trekking to Bongao peak is really easy for the person who loves trek. In my case, since there's is no mountain to climb in Boracay, It is difficult for me. I always stop to rest, hahaha Kuya nars told me that’s okay; I will wait for you, take your time. If I count, I think I rest more than 10 times in more or less 2km trek. Hahaha when I stopped, I always asked Kuya Nars, Malayo pa bo pa? (It is still far?). This is just like in my Mt. Samat trek in Bataan. I've made more than 20x rest in a 7km trek. Hahaha.

After 1.5 hours composed of 1hr of rest and 30minutes trek finally, we reach the peak, the view from the top is really amazing just like other peak/viewing deck in the Philippines. Tawi Tawi is an amazing province. 

It's Sunday, so it's a family day. There are many families, couples are enjoying the view even solo like me. haha

After a couple of hours in the peak, we decided to go down. When we arrived at the tourism office satellite in bongao, I just noticed why the staff checked the foods, drinks of the people who brought before going up, so I asked Kuya nars, he said They need to present so that when they going down the staff will check the trash if still complete if they miss they will charge from 2 pesos to 10 pesos per piece. 

The reason why they did that because to avoid trash in the peak. We take our lunch downtown in one of the Malaysian restos before we continue our tour.

Bongao downtown is busy. Many badjao people are roaming around begging for food and offering help for a fee. After our lunch, we headed to badjao village it is just about 10 minutes from downtown. When we arrived, my first expression was really hard living here because there is no clean water supply. They take a bath at sea, the village is squalid, and the badjao folks don't want to go to school as per Kuya nars.

Our next destination is in the Provincial Capitol. When we arrived, I asked Kuya nars if we could go inside to take photos, and he said yes, so we entered and told him if this capital is still the one they used because I couldn't see that they maintain the place like no one use it.
Before we went home, Kuya Nars stopped in one of the refreshments to have snacks. The local delicacies that I ate were delicious, especially their Pastel.

We arrived at their house late afternoon. I decided to take a nap because my body was giving up already. I didn't know when Ate Sidang woke me up to have dinner, which had already passed 7 in the evening. We have a good chat after dinner before we call it a night.

My flight back to Zamboanga the next day is 7:30 in the morning. I have nothing to worry about because the airport is just about a 2-minute walk from where I stayed.

I woke up around 5:30am to have coffee prepared by ate Sidang and went to the airport after to check in my flight. I went back to Ate sidang house to take breakfast while waiting for my flight, we had a good chat again explaining the history of Tawi Tawi, I didn't check the time, and I panicked when I heard the plane passing by, Maybe because the boarding time indicated in my boarding past is 7:10am. I was checking my watch. It was already 7:25am. If I miss my flight, I want to buy another ticket for Platinum Airlines, which is a little bit expensive or take the ferry back to Zamboanga.

Kuya Nars and Ate Sidang told me that there's nothing to worry about because the airport's serine would turn on before the plane landed. I was a relief when I saw the plane was just landed. Hahaha, I'm overacting, will buy a new ticket will make you have a migraine, hahaha

The plane left Sanga Sanga Airport around 8Am, and we Safely arrived in Zamboanga despite heavy rain. 

Will definitely come back in one of this day to explore some of the islets.  


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