Sunday, April 12, 2015

The Paradise Town of Bongao, Tawi-Tawi

Sanga-Sanga Airport in Bongao, Tawi-Tawi

As a traveler, there are these destinations that one craves to visit. My three destinations are not the usual tourist spots in the Philippines. But the government is exerting effort to promote them. So far I have conquered my fear and set foot in Basilan. The day after I have visited Basilan, I flew to Tawi-Tawi. And to date, only Jolo, Sulu remains to be conquered.

How to get there

From Manila (By Air) best route
Board the plane either from PAL or Cebu Pacific to Zamboanga City. Arriving in Zamboanga City, board the plane to Tawi-Tawi. To date, only Cebu Pacific services the route Zamboanga to Tawi-Tawi and vice-versa, It has only one morning flight which leaves 6:20 in the morning. Regular fare is around 3,000-4,000 plus one way. Travel time is more or less 45 minutes.

Another option is to board the ship going to Tawi-Tawi in Zamboanga City Port. Ship leaves 6 pm and you will arrive in Bongao, Tawi-Tawi 12 noon the following day. Travel time is more or less 18 hours. Fare is P1,100/pax.
From Manila (By Sea)
There is also a ship plying direct to Zamboanga City and in Zamboanga City, board the boat to Tawi-Tawi.

From Manila (By Land)
There is a bus company in Manila which plies the route direct to Zamboanga City or you can ride the Philtranco bus to Davao and from Davao, take another bus to Zamboanga City.

In Zamboanga City, board the boat to Tawi-Tawi.

Shipbuilding area in Bongao

Summer 2015

From Sanga-Sanga Airport, I was fetched by Ms. Joy Que, my former student in FEU and she was the one who arranged the tour, provided the accommodation, the sumptuous and belly-breaking lunch, and most importantly, the necessary security during my stay in Bongao, Tawi-Tawi. 

Before we started with my one-day escapade, she decided to drop by at the local shipbuilding facilty in Bongao for boats plying to Sabah.

the massive wooden ships plying to Sabah

 When I was still connected with a shipping company, we used to visit shipbuilding facilities but never this kind of wooded ships. I was told that the price of one costs around 15-20 Million Pesos.

According to the locals, boat trip to Sandaka, Sabah is 10 hours. While the boat ride to Samporna is 8 hours. In fact, going or buying supplies is better in Sabah than in Zamboanga City. There is only one boat trip and it leaves on a Wednesday. 

jump-off point to Boloboc Cave

After roaming around for nearly an hour, we headed to our first destination. It took us 10 minutes before we reached Barangay Lakit-Lakit. This was the site of our first adventure.

majestic landscapes

While waiting for our ride in the bay, we decided to take souvenir picture of the area.

Photo of Ms. Joy Que
 Good thing Ms. Joy Que brought her GoPro camera in this adventure.

entrance to the cave

Thereafter, we descended in another area for our boat trip ride along the coast.

There used to be a stairway leading down the cave but it was destroyed by a typhoon and the only option was to descend using a log.

after 10 minutes of cautiously descending, I was able to reach the base of the cave. I saw the debris cause by the aftermath of the typhoon,

And my effort was rewarded by the sight of the Boloboc Cave,

From the top of the cave, you can see a majestic sight of the bay.

After 10 minutes of waiting, the tiririt boat arrived and we boarded it.

And we cruised along the coast of Bongao. I tried my best to ask how much was the cost of the boat ride but Ms. Joy was the one who arranged for it. From a local, I was told that the cost is P50-100 on a 15-25 minute boat ride.

photo of Ms. Joy Que

the boat ride lasted for 20 minutes and we enjoyed taking souvenir pictures along the cruise.

Thereafter, we headed back to where we started.

As I was ascending, I looked back at the bay and I was able to get this shot.

Then, we headed towards a private cottage situated 15 minutes away from the cave,

And this was the spot where I had my best time in Tawi-Tawi! =)

The place was very serene.
You can hear only the waves  moving.
The place was very relaxing.
I slept twice in this cozy place.
The place very enticing.
It tells you to go back to it.
The place was simply - PARADISE. =)

Sir Biboy, uncle Ms. Joy, prepared our sumptuous eat-all-you-can lunch!
We took our respite and after 30 minutes, we headed to the provincial capitol of Tawi-Tawi.
From the top of capitol, you can see the town of Bongao and the surrounding islands.

Joy included this as part of our itinerary and I'm very thankful that she did.

Afterwards, we headed to our next destination. This was the place where they shot the movie of ms. Nora Aunor entitled- "Thy Womb."

We walked along the wooden road of the village.

I cannot help notice the things being sold along the way. One small plate of pancit is P1.00 and one small plate of rice is also P1.00.

Joy was kind enough to show me the local lodging in the area - Aaron's Place.

Economy room - P500 (2 pax)
Economy double bed - P600 (2 pax)

Airconditioned room
Regular room - P950 (2 pax)
Family room - P1,150 (3 pax)

We did not stay long in the village and went back to the cottage. We waited for the sunset. While waiting, we played the card game "tong-its."

Inside the cottage you can see the breathtaking view of Bongao Peak!

Tawi-Tawi is indeed a paradise.

Finally, after the long wait, the sunset...

photo of Ms. Joy Que
The following morning, Joy accompanied me to the airport and afterwards she climbed Bongao Peak and shared her pictures.

It took her one hour and thirty minuted before she reached the peak of the mountain. She brought bananas for the monkeys at the top of the mountain.

Thank you Ms. Joy Que for everything in Tawi-Tawi.
Thank you for sharing your paradise.. =)


  1. With the Philippines being comprised of over 7,000 islands, it is not surprising that it offers some of the best holiday paradise for vacation that are world class.

  2. this is awesome!! Jun Good Job... --+--

  3. Hello, Sir Jun! This is Jacqui. Thank you for sharing your experience! I will be going to Tawi-tawi this August 2015 and I plan to explore the other islands including Saluag. I have been trying to contact all the numbers posted by the other bloggers but the numbers are no longer active. May i ask for your help who to communicate with? Thanks!

    1. Honestly, my only contact in the island was my former student. And the latest about her is that she is going abroad.