By JOHNNY R. LEE, Ph.D.
Many writers, vloggers and casual tourists both local and international, who have set foot in the island-province, have swore in their diaries and narrations through social media, that Tawi-Tawi is probably the most beautiful province in the country based on several aspects -historical landmarks, richness in natural resources, unspoiled natural surroundings, biodiversity hotspots, unique cultural and traditional practices of its people and peacefulness.
Consists of 106 major islands and islets, Tawi-Tawi group of islands, when viewed from the top via an airplane, are like shining jewels, with every green islands being surrounded by natural beauty of its white sandy beach and untouched coral reefs.
The province prides itself as the first seat of Islam in the Philippines when Arab missionary name Sheikh Karimul Makhdum built the first mosque in the island municipality of Simunul in Tawi-Tawi in 1380. Other important cultural discovery includes the 800-500 million years artifacts found in Balobok Cave located in Lakit-Lakit, Bongao, Tawi-Tawi. Other natural attractions include the iconic Bud Bongao and Panampangan Island which is noted for its white powdery beach and considered as having the longest sandbar in the country.
Tawi-Tawi is noted for its unique cultural and ancient traditional and spiritual practices distinct from the Islamic teachings which they inherited from their forebears.
The province has retained its richness and biodiversity in terms of natural resources. In fact it is at the center of Biodiversity Triangle in Southeast Asia.
Their person, which is 80% Sama tribe, is considered as one of the most peaceful ethnic group in the country.
Tawi-Tawi offers a modest infrastructure facility for visitors and tourist to enjoy their stay in the province by having at least six hotels (3 star) and beautiful resorts plus budget Inns and ‘home-stays’ rooms. JOHNNY R LEE