“Looking at beauty in the world, is the first step of purifying the mind.” — Amit Ray, Meditation: Insights and Inspirations.
During my 1st visit in the island province of Basilan wayback 2005, I was very afraid to roam around. With news about insurgents thriving in the province, I was just satiated by the thought that, at least, I was able to set my feet in one of the country’s less traveled places.
Fastforward some 10 years after the 1st encounter: The thought of going back to Basilan and see the splendor it can offer came about after a friend invited me to go to Tawi-Tawi. We thought of squeezing in a Basilan side trip. And so during the last day of our Western Mindanao sojourn, we went to experience Basilan’s best kept secret – Malamawi Island.
We took the earliest ferry ride to Isabela City (Basilan’s capital) from Zamboanga City port and arrived after an hour. The feeling is pretty much different compared to my 1st visit. This time, it is much more peaceful and I , myself is more confident to walk around (unlike before that I was too afraid of bringing out my camera to take a snap)..
From mainland Basilan, we rode an outrigger boat that took us only around 5-10 minutes to reach Malamawi Island. Upon docking, our group (together with a tourism officer, Ate YanYan) chartered 3 motorcycles for us to reach Malamawi’s white sand beaches.
The trip to the other side of Malamawi had us passing through a dirt path and some bucolic rural scenes. After 15 minutes or so, the sight of aquamarine, inviting waters flashed before our very eyes. I remember running towards the beach excitingly like a kid.
Before I started taking photos of the place, I had to spend a few minutes marveling at its beauty. At the back of my head, I was silently uttering – “how could anyone think there is something soooooo spectacular in a terror-laiden place like Basilan?” Somehow, the bad image of the province has suffered through the years somewhat helped in the preservation of its tourist destinations like that of Malamawi.
The cove like beach dotted with fine white sand, hugged by crystal clear waters, empty wooden cottages and few visitors, was beyond perfect. And as soon as the sun came out of the clouds, the beach and its water further glimmered in its beauty. The vista made my sense of sight more than satiated. It was just so peaceful and serene and really captivating!
We only spent a few hours in the island, and I felt kinda sad when we were leaving. All the negative things thrown on Basilan started to fade. It made me further realize that the Philippines is really a place so much endowed with immense natural splendor. As a travel enthusiast, I think we should learn how to appreciate the beauty of every place we have and should stop from tainting its reputation.
How to Get to Malamawi:
From Manila, fly to Zamboanga City. Once in Zamboanga City, ride a tricycle to the Zamboanga City port. There are several ferries bound for Isabela City in Basilan. Once in Isabela City, walk towards the right side of Isabela Port. Boats to Malamawi are found just before you reach the fish market. Once in Malamawi mainland, ride a motorcycle to its white beach.