Tuesday, April 14, 2015

The Day I Started to Fall in Love with Tawi-Tawi

I fell in love twice last year. First with Batanes, then with Tawi-Tawi. Both of these provinces were on the farthest tip of the country - one on the north, the other one on the south. Does that make me a bipolar? Haha! Let me start telling you how I learned to love this province at the southern tip of the Philippines.

Touchdown Tawi-Tawi
Cebu Pacific has one daily flight from Zamboanga City to Tawi-Tawi. Being an early morning flight,  we arrived in this island province at around 7:40 AM. It is just a one hour flight from Zambo.

provincial map at the tourism office

As soon as we arrived, we headed to the Tourism Office at the airport to ask for information and help on how we're going to execute our planned itinerary. They were very busy at that time, especially their Tourism Head (Ms Salve) because they have prominent guests that they need to attend to.

Tawi-Tawi's little airport
Ms Salve left us to the care of Ate Sidang and I will be forever thankful for that. You will find out why on the next posts. When we finalized our itinerary and game plan, Ate Sidang took us to a local restaurant for lunch.

with our super guide Ate Sidang :)
I didn't see a name outside but they serve Malaysian food. I thought it was so-so, but man, it was so good! I never thought we would find an authentic tasting Malaysian food here in this part of Pinas. They looked like regular dishes but once you tasted it, you would want to eat more and more.

our mee goreng and nasi ayam goreng

I know that Nasi Ayam Goreng looks like an ordinary omelette rice, I even thought to myself "where is the ayam (chicken) here?" But when you actually open the omelette topping, the chicken strips are with the fried rice inside and it was seasoned perfectly. Yum!

my first sight of Tawi stilt houses
We headed to the port as soon as we finished lunch to check on the boat that will take us to Simunul Island, our first island destination.

passenger boats going to the islands
Ate Sidang inquired first about the boat's departure time and informed someone from there that we'll be joining them for that ride. Next stop, wet street market!

fresh fishes and the jolly fishermen :)

We bought our food supplies especially veggies because in the islands there are rarely vegetables available.

cooked fishes and their friendly tinderas :)
Tawi-Tawi is a seafood lover paradise. All sorts of fishes, you can find here. You want it fresh, cooked or dried - they have it! We can't be any happier!

dried fishes :)
Our last stop before boarding the boat was the Badjao Village. We were not here just to sight see. We were also here to purchase the traditional colorful mats woven by the Badjao ladies. That's the most beautiful souvenir you can take home from Tawi-Tawi.

Bongao's Badjao Village

It was quite a hike from the main road and the trail was rocky and muddy. You wouldn't think you're heading to a stilt house village. Ate Sidang took us to the home of the "bagsakan" of the mats. Too bad I forgot her name! Sheez. She was the one selling them in behalf of all the ladies weaving these gorgeous mats because not all of them can converse in Tagalog.

the lovely Badjao weavers :)

To give you an idea, the biggest "fully-finished" mat ranges from Php 3000-3500. I said fully-finished because they also sell mats with unfinished edges for a cheaper price. You might think it's expensive but if you'll just imagine how long it takes for them to finish weaving one mat with all those colors and different designs, you'll get it. It was so worth it.

gorgeous, gorgeous mats!

We really enjoyed talking and haggling with them. They were all so nice and they will show you all of their works without forcing you to buy them. They are just so proud to present their labor of love. At the end, we were all happy with what we purchased from them.

yey! satisfied customers
On our way out, we noticed how this place is poverty stricken. Just seeing how they live made me realize how lucky I am that I was living a different life.

a simple and scarce life
What made it heartwarming was, no matter how hard their lives seem to be, they are still happy. They don't have much, but they can still laugh. Looking back at all of the photos in this blog post, all I can see in the people's faces were genuine smiles.

a one big happy family :)
Whether it was our tour guide who rarely gets visitors to tour around, the fishermen who came from fishing the other night, the vendors selling under the heat of the sun, the lady weavers who painstakingly create mats for weeks or months only to sell them for Php 3000 or the family who almost have a bare home. Their smiles show real happiness.

Back in the city, we complain about our commuting woes. We complain about how hot the weather is even though we have electric fans and ACs. We complain about the smallest things in our daily lives. I am not saying we shouldn't. But maybe we should learn how to be content and to count our blessings instead. They don't have all that we have. We are living a much more comfortable life. That is already enough reason to be happy. :)

"We tend to forget that happiness doesn’t come as a result of getting something we don’t have, but rather of recognizing and appreciating what we do have." ~Frederick Keonig



This is Part 3 of my Zamboanga-Tawi-Tawi travel series.

0 comments :

Post a Comment

I'd love to hear your thoughts about this post! :)