Basilan is one province that is blessed with natural bounties since its early years of existence. The province, bestowed with different cultures and traditions and rich in aquatic resources, was once considered the trading center of Mindanao in the early days. 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 surfurs very similar to that of the northshore of Hawaii. Basilan has gradually evolved into a charming, even surprisingly hospitable place were we could relax and enjoy a laid back, stress-free vacation.

The kilometer-wide channel that opens to the port of Isabela, provincial capital, is lined on both sides by mangroves and Samal houses on stilts. Across is Malamawi Island, the gateway to Basilan, where can be found the Badjao, Samal-Luaans-Banguingui, and Muslim cemeteries. The island boasts of the only lake in the province with wild ducks and is home to the Panigayan fishing village, an ideal spearfishing destination.

In the heart of Isabela is the Santa Isabel Cathedral with its modern architectural design. Beside the cathedral is a display center of native handicrafts like mats, bags, and other products made of buri.

Not far from Isabela proper is the Kaum Purnah Mosque and Muslim Village, which shows Muslim culture through at least three tribes. The 400-meter-high Calvario Peak and its Chapel of Peace are a delight to photographers. Sumagdang Beach is a natural swimming resort amidst coconut plantations, mini rice fields, and fishponds while Kumalarang River boasts of a 14-meter-high waterfalls.

The next town of Lamitan is the best place to see the Yakan, a peace-loving people known for colorful clothes handwoven with intricate geometric designs as well as for elaborate weddings and festivals.

Nature Spots

  • Malamawi Island

  • Kumalarang River

  • Tabiawan and Busay Waterfalls

  • Balagtasan Waterfalls

  • Sumagdang Beach

  • Alano White Beach Resort

  • Sunrise/Lanote Resort Row

  • Bulingan Falls

  • Matagan beach paradise

Churches and religious shrines

  • Chapel of Peace, Calvario Peak, Isabela City, perched 400 metres (1,300 ft) above sea level and 15 minutes from the town proper.
  • Santa Isabel Cathedral, Isabela City, an art deco cathedral with a mosaic altar reminiscent of Roman-Byzantine cathedrals, named in honor of the patron saint of Isabela.
  • Monte Santo Shrine, atop Mt. Ubit in Lamitan City, is a pilgrimage site for devout Catholics who visit the shrine for the traditional "13 Stations" during Holy Week.
  • Kaum Purnah Mosque, Isabela City, an old and imposing mosque, the sight of which greets visitors on ferries as they sail the channel into Isabela.

Historical sites

  • Datu Kalun Shrine, Lamitan. Built as a tribute to a famous Yakan leader, it is a triangular park located in the heart of Lamitan City's bustling downtown.
  • Museo ng Lamitan, which showcases the Lami-lamihan festival. It also serves as the information center for Lamitan City.
  • Basilan Provincial Capitol, site of Fort Isabela II. The original fort was bombed and destroyed towards the end of World War II, having been used by the occupying Japanese forces as a munitions dump. A newer Capitol Building was built on the spot where the old Basilan City Hall stood after it was burned in the early 1990s. The new building is a celebration of Muslim and Christian influences which shaped modern-day Basilan, and still occupies the highest point of the city proper.
  • Isabela City Plaza (formerly Plaza Misericordia)/Plaza Rizal. The twin plazas of the city have remained at the very center of Basilan's socio-political scene to this very day.

About Basilan

The ancient name of Basilan Island was Tagime, named after a Datu who once ruled a big part of the island before the Spaniards came to Basilan. In the long past, Basilan had other names. It used to be named Uleyan, derived from a mountain located at the heart of the island. Later, it was changed to Matangal, also named after Mt. Matangal in Tuburan. Other names given were Puh Gulangan (island of forest); Umus Tambun (fertile land); Kumalarang, named after a river; Baunuh Peggesan; and later it was changed to Basih Balan.

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