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Asia > Southeast Asia > Philippines > Mindanao > Bangsamoro > Sulu Islands > Basilan

Basilan

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Travel Warning WARNING: A heavy conflict was going on in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (Basilan, Lanao Del Sur, Maguindanao, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi) until October 2012 when a peace accord was signed between the Moro Islamic Liberation Front and the Philippines government ending a 30-year conflict between Muslim militias and the Philippine government. In 2009 this region was declared the world's most hazardous area for journalists by the Committee to Protect Journalists, with 18 reporters dead in a massacre that claimed the lives of almost 60 people. Travelling to this region is still strongly discouraged. If it is necessary to visit, inform your embassy, remain cautious at all times and avoid public gatherings.
Government travel advisories
(Information last updated Jun 2018)

Basilan is an island province of the Philippines in Mindanao, just off the southern coast of the Zamboanga Peninsula. Basilan is the biggest and northernmost among the major islands of the Sulu Archipelago.

Understand[edit]

Basilan has a variety of natural tourist spots that dot the island's pristine beaches and cool inland resorts; it has a peninsula point called Punta Matangal in Tuburan that offers a haven for surfers, very similar to those at the north shores of Hawaii. Basilan has gradually evolved into a charming, even surprisingly hospitable place where you could relax and enjoy a laid back, stress-free vacation, but the danger from rebels and pirates persists; it is badly affected by the Moro insurgency, and bombings on civilians and kidnapping of tourists pose risks.

There are three main ethnic groups; the Yakans and Tausugs are predominantly Muslim, while Chavacanos are primarily Christian. The lingua franca is Chavacano, a Spanish creole dialect, understood by more than 80% of the population. Tagalog/Filipino and English are also widely spoken and understood.

Tourist assistance[edit]

  • Hja. Gigi Carama-Junudi, Basilan Provincial Tourism Officer, Provincial Capitol Building, Isabela City, Basilan.
  • Jayson Tubil, Isabela City Tourism Officer, Isabela City Hall Complex, Isabela City, Basilan.
  • Pilar Raga, Guest Liaison Officer, "Isabela City Pasalubong Center", Basilan Chamber of Commerce & Industry, Inc., J. S. Alano Bldg., J. S. Alano St., Isabela City, Basilan.

Cities[edit]

Get in[edit]

Access to the island province is usually through Zamboanga which lies 31 km (17 nautical miles) (narrowest point of the Basilan Strait) due north. From there, a boat ride of 1 hour and 45 mins (for conventional passenger ferries), will take you to Isabela and Lamitan. The fare ranges from ₱20 (student and senior citizen's discounted fare on some conventional ferries) to ₱70 (first-class w/ aircon).

Another fastest way to the location is by taking the "Fast Craft" which will only take about 45 minutes boat ride.

Basian by boat.JPG
  • Isabela-Zamboanga-Isabela Route (1 hr, 30 min)
  • Lamitan-Zamboanga-Lamitan Route (1 hr, 30 min)
  • Maluso-Jolo-Maluso Route (6 hours)
Schedule
Ship Origin Destination Time
M/V Stephanie Marie Isabela Zamboanga 6:45AM, 12:45PM
M/V Stephanie Marie Zamboanga Isabela 9:45AM, 3:45PM
M/V Ever Sweet Isabela Zamboanga 9:30AM, 3:30PM
M/V Ever Sweet Zamboanga Isabela 6:30AM, 12:30PM
M/V Estrella del Mar Isabela Zamboanga 10AM, 4PM
M/V Ever Sweet Zamboanga Isabela 7AM, 1PM
M/V Princess Nicole Isabela Zamboanga 6:50AM, 12:50PM
M/V Princess Nicole Isabela Zamboanga 9:50AM / 3:50PM
M/V Neveen Zamboanga Lamitan 3PM
M/V Neveen Zamboanga Lamitan 7AM
M/V Trisha Kerstin Lamitan Zamboanga 7AM
M/V Trisha Kerstin Zamboanga Lamitan 3PM

Basilan joined the "Western Philippine Nautical Highway" through the construction of 3 new Roll-On-Roll-Off ("Ro-ro") ports located in the cities of Isabela and Lamitan, and in Port Holland, Maluso. A regular four door sedan is charged ₱2500 per trip, a van/light truck ₱3500, while bigger trucks/heavy equipment may go up to ₱5000 per trip.

Basilan is served by several light plane landing fields located in Isabela (2), Lamitan (1), Maluso (1), Lantawan (1) and Sumisip (1), all of which were constructed and maintained by the multi-national plantations and have since been turned over to the Farmer Beneficiary Cooperatives.

Talk[edit]

The lingua franca is Chavacano, a Spanish creole language, understood by more than 80% of the population. Tagalog/Filipino, English and Visaya are also widely spoken and understood. Native Yakans and Tausugs have their own language which consist of 80% of the population in the island.

Basic Chavacano


  • Yes - Si!
  • No - No!
  • Good morning! - Buenos dias!
  • Good Afternoon! - Buenos Tardes!
  • How are you? - Que tal tu?
  • Here - Aqui
  • There - Alla
  • I'm hungry! - Con hambre yo!
  • I'm sick! - Infermo yo!
  • Help! - Ayuda!
  • Where can I eat? - Donde yo puede come?
  • Where is the hotel? - Donde el Hotel?
  • Where's the toilet? - Donde el CR?
  • Where can I have fun? - Donde yo puede man gimik?
  • How much is this? - Cuanto 'ste?
  • How much is that? - Cuanto 'se?
  • Its too expensive, can you give me a discount? - Bien caro, tiene pa rebaje?
  • When does it (do we) leave? - Cuando quel (kita) larga?
  • Thank you! - Gracias!

See[edit]

Houses on stilts
Bulingan Falls
Basilan Provincial Capitol, former site of Fort Isabela Segunda

Nature spots

  • Kumalarang River
  • Tabiawan and Busay Waterfalls
  • Balagtasan Waterfalls
  • Sumagdang Beach
  • Malamawi Island
  • Alano White Beach Resort
  • Sunrise/Lanote Resort Row
  • Bulingan Falls
  • Matagan beach paradise
  • Calugusan Beach
  • Palm Beach

Churches and religious shrines

  • St. Peter's Parish Church
  • Monte Santo
  • Chapel of Peace
  • Santa Isabel Cathedral
  • Monte Santo Shrine
  • Kaum Purnah Mosque

Historical sites

  • Datu Kalun Shrine
  • Museo ng Lamitan
  • Basilan Provincial Capitol
  • Isabela City Plaza (formerly Plaza Misericordia)/Plaza Rizal

Do[edit]

  • Araw ng Basilan
  • Lami-Lamihan Festival
  • Cocowayan Festival
  • Fiesta Santa Isabel
  • Semana Santa (Holy Week) - March/April (movable)
  • Flores de Mayo
  • Fonda de Barangay or Fiestas del Barangay
  • Pascua (Christmas)
  • Isra Wal Miraj
  • Eid al-Fitr/Hari Raya Puasa - (movable)
  • Maulidin-Nabi
  • Chinese New Year

Buy[edit]

Isabela City Pasalubong Center

A definite recommended "buy" would be the intricate Yakan weaves, trinkets and souvenir items usually made of woven material and hammered brass/bronze pieces, with colorful beads and hand-painted wooden bangles, rings, and handcrafted Yakan bags, table-runners, wall-decor, etc. Be sure to visit the Isabela City Pasalubong Center for authentic Yakan craft (1/F, J. S. Alano Zenith Bldg., J. S. Alano St.). Since you're already in Basilan, don't miss out on the "Basilan Brew" coffee available in nearby Lamitan town (only 45 minutes from Isabela City). A number of retail establishments may likewise be visited before 6PM (traditional closing time).

Eat[edit]

Sumptuous local delicacies may likewise be sampled. Not to be missed are hearty Muslim dishes such as "tyula itum", "pianggang manok", "baulo", "kulma", etc. Certain Yakan festivities likewise prepare a pyramidal "dullang" with the delectable mountain rice "sappul"

Lamitan City

  • Chi-Chia Grille and Restaurant
  • Nalamar Family Entertainment Complex
  • Lamitan Plaza Restaurant
  • Trisha's Burger House

Sleep[edit]

A number of hotels, resorts and hostels dot the City of Isabela.

The Farmland Resort (Lanote), Anson's Hotel (Sumagdang), Hotel Royal Issra (Marketsite), Casa Rosario (Port Area), Basilan Hostel (Eastside), Buwalan Beach Resort (Sumagdang), ISAWAD Pool Resort (Cabunbata), Basilan Hotel (Isabela Proper), Grino House (Menzi). And Sofia Hotel (Port Area).

Go next[edit]

This region travel guide to Basilan is an outline and may need more content. It has a template, but there is not enough information present. If there are Cities and Other destinations listed, they may not all be at usable status or there may not be a valid regional structure and a "Get in" section describing all of the typical ways to get here. Please plunge forward and help it grow!