Mindanao

Sarangani Bay Festival 2015: The Philippines’ Biggest Beach Festival

Posted on May 28, 2015

With an annual attendance of more than 120,000 visitors, the Sarangani Bay Festival is the biggest beach festival in the Philippines. And it gets bigger and better every year! The Sarangani Provincial Tourism Office invited me to attend the 10th year of the two-day festival held last May 15 to 16 at Gumasa Beach, one of most beautiful beaches in the country and what I’ve considered the best in mainland Mindanao. The Sarangani Bay Festival – popularly shortened to SarBay Fest – started in 2006Read More

Indanan, Sulu: Malay-Islamic History at Camp Bud Datu

Posted on November 14, 2014

A military camp situated on a mountain overlooking the commercial center of Jolo with Masjid Tulay lording over the town, Camp Bud Datu in Indanan, Sulu is one of the safest and most scenic places to spend the night in the province, just like the Astana or Royal Palace Replica in Talipao. Interestingly, the military barracks has mock store signs of 7-Eleven and Starbucks, which serves kahawa sug or native coffee in branded coffee mugs that read STARBUCKS CAMP BUD DATU. The accommodatingRead More

Talipao, Sulu: Sleeping Like a Sultan at the Royal Palace Replica

Posted on November 13, 2014

My favorite part of the five-day tour of Sulu was staying at a royal palace replica, admiring panoramic sunrises that were fit for a… well, sultan! There’s a magical quality to how the day breaks in Sulu. In the town of Talipao, I spent three nights at a magnificent wooden life-sized replica of the royal palace of the Sultanate of Sulu, the Astana Darul Jambangan. The model of the royal palace is the centerpiece of Mt. Bayug Eco-Cultural Park, a military camp thatRead More

Maimbung, Sulu: Island Hopping Around Maimbung Bay

Posted on November 12, 2014

Besides the atoll-like islands of Hadji Panglima Tahil, the southern coast of Jolo island in Sulu harbors a few more islets worth exploring off the coast of Maimbung. My friend and I enjoyed an exclusive island-hopping tour where we got to visit Bualu Bat Sanctuary, Takut Islets and Teomabal Island – thanks to the generous assistance of no less than the Philippine Marines! Fourteen Marines escorted me and fellow travel blogger Gay Mitra-Emami of www.pinaytraveljunkie.com aboard a 25-foot speedboat around Maimbung Bay. Unfortunately, centuriesRead More

Jolo, Sulu: Pangalay Dances by NDJC Ingat Kapandayan Artist Center

Posted on November 11, 2014

Notre Dame of Jolo College is the best place in Sulu province to watch pangalay, a traditional dance of the Tausug people. At this Roman Catholic academic institution established in 1954, one can arrange cultural performances by the Ingat Kapandayan Artist Center, the school-based theater group that promotes peace and cultural understanding though performing arts. During our visit, a group of student dancers performed four variations of the pangalay. This exotic and mesmerizing dance predates the arrival of Islam in Sulu. It is rooted inRead More

Jolo, Sulu: An Inside Look at Masjid Tulay (Tulay Mosque)

Posted on November 10, 2014

During my visit to Sulu with fellow travel blogger Gay Mitra-Emami of www.pinaytraveljunkie.com, we had the privilege of touring Masjid Tulay (Tulay Central Mosque) in Jolo town. Generally not open to non-Muslims, we had special permission to explore the inside of the mosque thanks to our military guide who befriended the local imam.  The most prominent landmark in Jolo town – whether viewed from the plane or the boat to Marungas Island – this grand place of worship pierces a skyline ofRead More