The island of Basilan is surrounded by the Moro Gulf on the northeast, Basilan Strait on the north, the Sulu Sea on the northwest and west, and the Celebes Sea on the south, southeast and east.
Basilan Strait separating Basilan Island from the port of Zamboanga City and the mainland of Mindanao is about 17 nautical miles. It would take about an hour to reach the island province via a fast craft or about 2 hours with a Roll-on Roll-off (RORO) ferry boat.
Approaching the port of Isabela City, you'll have to pass by the Isabela Channel where an awesome sight of hills welcomes you on your left, while on the right side is Malamawi Island. This kilometer-wide channel to the port of Isabela is dotted on both sides by mangroves and Badjao houses on stilts.
The Badjaos or "sea gypsies" are indigenous ethnic group of Maritime Southeast Asia and inhabit the shores and waters of Sulu archipelago. They are found in many coastal settlements lining up the archipelago, particularly in Jolo, Tawi-Tawi and Basilan.
It is assumed that the Badjaos were originally boat dwellers who eventually built stilt houses near rich fishing grounds.
These houses are among the usual sights upon entering the capital city of Basilan.
I wonder how it feels to stay in one of these, even for just one night?
My Basilan trip is one of the most "nerve-wracking" journeys I've had so far. Known as one of the most dangerous provinces in the Philippines, I bravely set foot on this island province last July 2, 2011. This series narrates the experiences I had in pursuing with my goal of setting foot in Basilan, definitely a one hell of an adventure! To date, this is my 5th solo trip and the 29th province on my list.
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