Friday, April 10, 2015

30 Minutes in Basilan

Zamboanga Port
As a traveler, it has been always my dream to set foot in Basilan. It is not the usual tourist spot in the Philippines. In fact, it was dubbed as "the most dangerous province in the Philippines." I think it needs no explanation.

There are only four places left for me to visit in the Philippines. And this summer 2015, I will visit Tawi-Tawi, Dinagat, and Basilan. And for my finale, Jolo, Sulu.

This is by far the most dangerous tour I have done alone in the Philippines. Before Basilan, I went to Cotabato City and Maguindanao and these places really gave me goose-bumps. 

How to get there

Board a flight going to Zamboanga City either through PAL or Cebu Pacific. In Zamboanga City. board the boat (either a fast craft or not) going either to Isabela or Lamitan.

Fast craft going to Isabela (through Weesam or Anika Gaile) is good only for 45 minutes. While the ferry boat is good for 1.5 hours.

Schedule of fast craft 
Zambo to Isabela, Basilan
1st - 6:45 am
2nd - 9:30 am
3rd - 12:45 nn
4th - 3:30 pm

Isabela to Zambo
1st - 8:15 am
2nd - 10:45 am
3rd - 2:00 pm
4th - 4:35 pm

Passenger Ferry
Zambo to isabela - 9:45 am / 3:45 pm
Isabela to Zambo - 6:45 am / 12:45 nn

But the first boat ride leaves 6:30 and 6:45 (Anika Gaile and Weesam, respectively)

You may find it silly or absurd but I did not stay long in Isabela. I was looking for a companion, friend or somebody from Basilan. But the help came after I visited Basilan.

Anyway, I woke up 5:00 am and proceeded to the port in Zamboanga City. From the hotel in San Jose Road, the fare was only P20.00. Good thing Mang Tinapay was already opened and I took my breakfast there. The establishment is just walking distance from the port.

sunrise at the port

After breakfast, I immediately went to the ticketing area of Weesam which is just a couple of steps away from the port. I opted Weesam than Anika Gaile. The fare was P150.00, one way.

boarding time
I boarded the boat having mixed emotions for the trip and praying for my safety. Remember, I was alone and I did not have any companion nor did I know anyone from Basilan.

The fast craft left 6:50 am and from a distance I was looking at the Zamboanga port.

Since I was boarded on a fast craft, we were able to catch up with a ferry boat along the cruise.

There were several passengers standing at the back of the boat and I also stood at the back to take pictures. Noticeably, there were security guards on board the fast craft. I left my bag, wallet, bracelet, shoes, accessories, gadgets and hat inside the hotel. I only brought my iphone for my pictures. People told me that I should not be showy and I should be on a low profile, as much as possible.

Along the cruise, we passed by the Great Sta. Cruz Island!
Pink-sand beach of Zamboanga City.

Minutes away from the Isabela port, we passed by the mangrove area.

A little more and when passed by Malamawi Island, site of the famous Jaca white-sand beach resort.

Finally, it is official. I am in Basilan!!

I went outside the port and walked towards Jollibee isabela. I felt an eerie or weird feeling that people were staring at me. I should have taken the tricycle ride, After reaching Jollibee, I went back to the port.

I bought my ride back to Zamboanga City for another P150.00. Technically, I was in Basilan only for 30 minutes. Maybe next time, at least an hour! Just kidding! I will try Lamitan and coordinate with a native or local so that I can cautiously roam around the city.

Going back, I gave a sign of relief! 
I told myself that it was my first attempt.
There will definitely be a second and a third one (with proper coordination, security, and guide). 

photo courtesy of Ms. JOY QUE
Next time i will try to visit Malamawi Island for its white-sand beach!

I was in Basilan!


  1. Hi! I was looking for sked of ferry boat/fast craft going Isabela City & landed's informative, though sad to note you made it sound like its really scary in Isabela City, when its NOT. Some ARMM municipalities located in Basilan province, perhaps are the ones you wanted to refer to as dangerous like Akbar, Moh. Ajul, Tuburan, Al-Barka, Sumisip, Tipo-Tipo, Maluso among others, that are facing Sulu province and beleive to be Abu Sayyaf's lair. I hope you will consider doing some background reading muna to be fair to us living in this part of the country. I'm from Jolo and admittedly Im scared to go there now too. But like Isabela City, the place is not that dangerous, its the out-lying areas not the poblacion. Salamat Sir!

    1. sir may i ask for the security situation at Sulu. is it possible to go there? thanks

  2. same question here, is it safe to go to jolo sulu?

  3. Safe naman po ang pagtravel sa isabela at lamitan, at Sulu na rin active po ang Tourism especially sa lamitan...

    We had a free tour sa Lamitan proper coordination lang sa Tourism dun..

    Ang habal habal sa Lamitan 150 petot dalhin ka na sa famous falls, yung public beach ni Mayor na maganda at along the way makikita mo yung mga rubber tree.

    SULU din may Tourism na so safe na rin po ang pagpunta dun. Syempre sa mga turista wag masyadong revealing ang damit respeto pa rin since almost ng nandun ay muslim community.