Every backpacker’s dream is to set foot in the most feared but amazing provinces of the Philippines – Zamboanga, Basilan, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi or most commonly called ZamBaSulTa. Our 6-day backpacking to the said provinces was originally planned last June 2017 but due to Marawi Seige, we hold off the trip.
We met Ms. Ediza, a solo backpacker from Baguio. The three of us brought all the courage that we had and went to Sulu. Being judged as the Philippines’ most feared province and known for its negative impression, I have to admit that I’m having a second thought on visiting Sulu.
The overnight boat ride to Sulu takes 8-9 hours and the anxiety that I felt made me awake for the whole trip. I’m not sure if that was nervousness due to the rough seas or the thought of docking at Sulu anytime soon.
We landed at the Sulu port around 4:00 in the morning and maybe for some safety reason, Ms. Merwa, the tourism staff, advised us to stay inside the boat until she arrived to fetch us.
Bodex and I, were shocked when we knew that there was a hotel in Sulu. Hahah! (masyado namin minaliit ang Sulu but we were sorry for that.) Safe mag overnight stay dito kasi yung hotel ay located sa loob ng compound ng mga military. Kahit mga tricycle bawal pumasok sa loob. Nagulat din kami kasi may catholic church din sa loob ng compound.
We ate at the karinderia infront of our hotel and met Sir Darwin Absari, a local of Sulu and a professor of University of the Philippines. He’s with his Chinese students and they are filming the life of the Muslim-Chinese community residing in the province. To his delight that there are tourist in his land, he paid for our breakfast 😀
Our first meal in Sulu. Bawlu and Tausug Coffee.
Me, Bodex, Ms. Ediza with Sir Darwin Absaris. Thank you, sir Darwin, for the free breakfast!
That day was also their flight back to Manila. Sumama kami sa paghatid sakanila sa airport at para makapasyal na din kami. Ang dami naming escorts na kasama, feeling VIP! Hahah! Kidding aside, of course it’s for our own safety. 🙂
Picture-picture with our escorts and Chinese visitors while waiting for the aircraft.
Nakakatuwa yung feeling na nasa runway ka tapos inaantay nyo yung eroplano. Parang nag-aantay lang ng bus. Haha! ang saya!
Together with the escorts, we then proceed to Mauboh beach in Patikul, Sulu. Ang lapit lang ng beach nila sa Jolo. Pwede din mag island hopping dito, sayang lang hindi na kinaya ng budget namin. Hahah! Walang bayad ang magsama ng mga escorts, papa-meryendahin mo lang sila.
At Mauboh Beach, Patikul, Sulu. View of Sulu sea. 😀
With the escorts and tourism staff.
We took a light snack at Shara’s Coffee Shop. They are serving native delicacies in a platter style but you will only pay for the food you consumed. Galing! Hahah!
After our snack, we went to Sulu Provincial Capitol to register at the tourism office. Nagpaalam at nagpasalamat na kami sa mga escorts namin. Ms. Merwa together with her friends, Ches and Madam joined us in touring around.
Sulu Provincial Capitol (Magkakamukha sila ng capitol sa Mindanao ‘no? Heheh)
Bongga ng form nila, magdala kayo ng picture para remembrance sakanila. Heheh
First time to see a Muslim Calendar. Calendar natin yung sa taas na numbers, then sa baba yung sa mga Muslims. 🙂
You may want to visit other tourist spots in Sulu.
This hand woven cloth is called Pis Siyabit. Used by Tausug men as headdress.
Trying to wear the Pis Siyabit.
Ms. Merwa offered us to visit the Office of the Mayor and we promptly agreed. The privilege of meeting Mr. Kerkhar S. Tan, mayor of Jolo, Sulu, was another wonderful experience that we had.
Meet and greet with Mayor Kerkhar Tan and her family. 🙂
I Love Jolo sign is just outside the town hall.
For our lunch, we dined at the Cousin’s Food Hub and indulged ourselves in some Tausug cuisines.
Chicken Pianggang and Tiyula Itum a.ka. Black Soup. It’s like fried chicken at nilagang baka pero spicy ito with burnt coconut.
Having our sumptuous lunch!
Before going to the largest mosque in Sulu, Ms. Merwa, lead us to Jolo Barter and showed us the dress worn by the Tausug during their wedding.
These are the Tausug’s wedding gown.
Masjid Tulay (Tulay Mosque) is the largest mosque in Sulu Province.
Our tour has ended and it’s time for another 8 hours boat ride back to Zamboanga. As we reached Sulu port, Ms. Merwa and Ches, accompanied us inside the boat. Sobrang accommodating sila at masayang kasama. Yung tipong kahit hindi mo na naiintindihan yung salita nila pero natatawa ka pa din. Hahah! Dito mo mapapatunayan na pwedeng maging magkaigan ang Muslim at Kristiyano despite the cultural differences. We bid them goodbye and did the Muslim tradition of placing the hand on the chest after hand shaking.
Yung pag punta namin dito, nasa cabin kami. Ngayon, economy class na lang, waley na datung hahah! Sorry for my wacky face. LOL!
We’re one of those people who misjudged the province even without exploring the place, but our short sojourn have changed our mindset and gave us greater knowledge and understanding about the Philippines’ most feared province. As the saying goes “Don’t judge the book by it’s cover”
√ COOL THINGS TO SHARE:
■ Before visiting Sulu, coordinate first to the Tourism Office.
■ Getting to Sulu: Fly to Zamboanga and take the boat ride to Sulu. Travel time is 8-9 hours. Zamboanga-Sulu schedule of Aleson Shipping is 8:00pm and 9:00pm for Montenegro Lines.
■ Never leave Sulu without trying their Tiyula Itum also known as Black Soup.
■ “Magsukul” is a Tausug language meaning “Thank You” READ: ZamBaSulTa : Travel Guide for complete itinerary and expenses.
Our ZamBaSulTa trip is one for the books. We felt no terror when we visited the said provinces, contrary to what others say. Thanks to our Christian and Muslim guides/new friends that we met in every province, who taught us their culture and traditions and for giving us a glimpse to the serene beaches and other unexploited tourist spots. Yet, there’s still so much more to discover. Hoping that their tourism will continue to grow further. 🙂