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Presenting Tawi-Tawi’s charms to the world
Published on: Sunday, January 28, 2024
By: Nikko Fabian
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Considered by many to be the most beautiful province with close to half a million people, Tawi-Tawi comprises 302 islands and islets at the southernmost part of the Philippines.
TAWI-Tawi is the most peaceful among the five provinces of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (Barmm).

The Tawi-Tawi Provincial Day celebration (Sept 23-27) is better known as “Kamahardikaan Sin Tawi-Tawi”. 

The yearly event honours the beautiful history, sacrifices and struggles of forefathers who fought for freedom.

Considered by many to be the most beautiful province with close to half a million people, Tawi-Tawi comprises 302 islands and islets at the southernmost part of the Philippines.

The province shares a common sea border with Indonesia’s North Kalimantan province and with Sabah.

It has 11 municipalities – three on the mainland, while eight on the larger islands.



The province shares a common sea border with Indonesia’s North Kalimantan province and with Sabah.



Its strategic location provides an easier access to member countries of the Brunei Darussalam-Indonesia-Malaysia-Philippines East Asean Growth Area (Bimp-Eaga).

The municipality of Bongao is the provincial capital where people are friendly and hardworking and fresh seafood abundant.

Simunul, municipality in the province of Tawi-Tawi, has a population of 34,245 people. It is the birthplace of Islam in the Philippines and half-hour by speedboat from Bongao.

Local Muslims believe a missionary named Sheikh Karim ul-Makhdum introduced Islam in 1380 when he set foot on Simunul Island. That was 141 years before the Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan, working for the Spanish crown, arrived in the central Philippines (up north from Simunul) and introduced Christianity.

It was on Simunul where the sheikh built the first and the oldest mosque in the country, historians say.

The mosque is held with great esteem and emulation by Muslims and non-Muslims.

In terms of basic amenities, the province is equipped with an airport that can accommodate landing of airbus, a sea port, water and power supplies, among others.

Governor Yshmael “Mang” Sali is determined to level-up its airport and local seaport infrastructures as well as the sea transportation that connects the different islands.

He said he intends to develop its agal-agal industry with new technology and eliminate middlemen as much as possible.



Yshmael “Mang” Sali



He also wants to improve its internet connection because it is difficult to engage in business and socio-cultural events with poor inter-connectivity.

On the Kamahardikaan Sin Tawi-Tawi celebration, Sali said Sept 26 and 27 are holidays to enable constituents to join the celebration.

The five-day celebration includes sports events, interagency development activities, traditional food festival, nightly programs and cultural performances, Islamic symposium, and talent and beauty pageant for young female contestants.

The people of Tawi-Tawi are seafarers known for their skill in building traditional colourful boats for the Lepa Festival, or boat competition involving all municipalities.

A street dance highlighting agal-agal or seaweed was also organised, because Tawi-Tawi is the biggest producer of this product.

In fact, 80 per cent of the people’s livelihood is linked to seaweed farming.



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