I have so many beautiful stories to tell you about my travels to the southernmost province of the Philippines, the fascinating island province of Tawi-Tawi. Stories that have occupied a special place in my heart. Stories that have concreted how beautiful and amazing this part of Mindanao really is. Beautiful stories that reflect not only beauty of Tawi-Tawi but the goodness of its people and the richness and colorful their culture is. Along with those thousands of people who were once lured to come to Tawi-Tawi, I will share my exciting stories about my wonderful experience romancing the pristine and natural magnificence of this province I consider as “the southernmost jewel of the country”.
From the charming islands and islets dotting the seas of Tawi-Tawi to the breathtaking peak of its tallest mountain, from the flavorful traditional cuisines of its people to their colorful dances and lively music, from the busy pier of Bongao to the bustling barter trade of Panglima Sugala, from the stilt houses of Badjao to the peace loving town of Simunul, from the sand bars of Panampangan to the awe-inspiring Turtle Islands Heritage Protected Area – amazing things that are truly and uniquely Tawi-Tawi’s.
It’s almost a year since I started traveling and documenting the many amusing and awe-inspiring sights to see and experience in the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM). From beaches to mountains, lagoons to lakes, islands to highlands, traditional cuisines to colorful weaves, exhilarating adventures to peaceful immersion to its people – these are just some of the many many amazing things I learned and experienced wandering to its charming provinces and municipalities.
Allow me to share to you some of my humble journeys to some of the remotest places in the country found in this region. These are wonderful places that have remained unexplored, raw and pristine to this day.
I hope this will entice you to come to this part of our country, the Philippines, and experience that kind of thrill, fun and happiness I feel while going to these places. There are actually more to experience, more to enjoy, more to discover.
This is “ARMMazing DESTINATIONS | THE TRAVEL TELLER’S TOP PICKS”.
Definitely, the Philippines is home to breathtaking sites of worship. Proof to that are the four Baroque churches in the country which are recognized by UNESCO as World Heritage Sites. And if you roam around the country, several stunning churches are scattered in the different regions of the country. But the Philippines is not just home to amazing churches. If you travel to Mindanao, some of parts of the island boast some of the most strikingly beautiful mosques in the country. Although these structures are places of worship, one can’t resist of admiring of how these Islamic structures are designed and constructed.
Having gone to the different parts of Mindanao and the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, here I compiled 10 of the most strikingly beautiful mosques in the country – they’ll all found in Mindanao.
The Grand Mosque of Cotabato City
The Grand Mosque which is also called Masjid Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah is the largest and said to be the grandest mosque in the Philippines. It is located along Tamontaka Bubong Road in Cotabato City. The construction of this grand structure is funded by the Sultan of Brunei to whom the Masjid was named, Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah.
The Pink of Mosque of Datu Saudi Ampatuan, Maguindanao
Known for its strikingly bright pink color, the Pink Mosque of Datu Saudi Ampatuan in the Province of Maguindanao is the most popular and most photographed mosque among the many mosques in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao. Named after Datu Saudi Ampatuan Mayor Samsudin Dimaukom who initiated the construction of the structure, the Pink Mosque was painted in bright pink to represent peace and love. It is one beautiful way of showing another side of the province – something so different from what we hear in the news.
Bacolod Grande Mosque of Bacolod, Lanao Del Sur
In the Mid-1900’s, this stunningly magnificent mosque is said to be the “Little Mecca of Lanao Del Sur”. This is the Bacolod Grande Mosque located in Barangay Lama, town of Bacolod-Kalawi, Province of Lanano Del Sur. The structure is painted in dark green colors. Like other mosques painted in green, the color green is a traditional color of Islam and has represented Islam for centuries. Some believe that green was the Prophet Muhammad’s favorite color, and it is mentioned in a number of verses in the Quran as the color that will be worn by the inhabitants of paradise.
Masjid Al-Nasser Abpi of Datu Odin Sinsuat, Maguindanao
About 30 minutes from downtown Cotabato City, another town of the Province of Maguindanao boasts of its imposing white Mosque called Masjid Al-Nasser Abpi. This is situated in Magelco in the town of Datu Odin Sinsuat. This is a newly built mosque and painted mostly in white. The color white is perhaps the second-most associated color with Islam symbolizing purity and peace.
Hja. Sitti Raya Mosque of Talipao, Sulu
In the province of Sulu, another quaint town boasts of its uniquely designed and painted mosque – this is the Hadja Sitti Raya Mosque of the Municipality of Talipao, about an hour ride from the Capital of Bongao. Unlike other mosque painted with one single or two colors, Hadja Sitti Raya Mosque is painted in different colors with different patterns. This is built the former local chief executive of the town Mayor Sitti Raya Tulawei for the people of Talipao.
Masjid Kapunan of Panglima Sugala, Tawi-Tawi.
In the island provice of Tawi-Tawi, its biggest mosque is situated in the quiet town of Panglima Sugala. It is called Masjid Kapunan located in Batu-Batu, Panglima Sugala and said to be the most beautiful mosque ever built in the whole Tawi-Tawi Province.
Buluan Mosque in Buluan, Maguindanao
The capital town of Maguindanao, the town of Buluan is also home to one of the beautiful mosques in the entire Province. Named Buluan Mosque, it is built by the family of Maguindanao Governor Toto Mangudadatu for the people of Buluan. This magnificent structure is located in Barangay Maslabeng.
Buadi Sacayo Masjid in Marawi City
There are plenty of beautiful mosques scattered in the many parts of Marawi City, the capital of the province of Lanao Del Sur that I have yet to visit and see. For now, one of those that attract me most is the Buadi Sacayo Masjid located in Barangay Bangon.
The White Mosque by the Sea of Bongao, Tawi-Tawi
In the small village of Bongao in Barangay Tubig Tanah, a tiny white mosque gleams just a few meters from the seas of Tawi-Tawi. Despite its tiny size, there’s something about this mosque that visitors love about. Some even describe it as an igloo-inspired mosque. But what I love about this mosque is its quaint setting sitting quietly by the bay amidst the blue sky on a clear day, a manicured Bermuda grass and old tall coconut trees around.
Sheikh Karimul Makdhum Mosque in Simunul, Tawi-Tawi
It may not be as grand as the Grand Mosque of Cotabato but the country’s oldest Islamic worship site situated in the island town of Simunul in the Province of Tawi-Tawi is a sight to behold – this is the Sheik Karimul Makdum Mosque, named after the first Arab missionary to set foot in the South to propagate Islam. What’s amazing about this mosque is the four columns found and preserved inside it believed to been erected since the mosque was built in 1380 – that means they’re 636 years of age. Amazing!
THERE YOU GO! Ten of the most strikingly beautiful mosques I have visited in the country. And so, if you’re into culture and architecture, never miss visiting these #ARMMazingMosques when you visit MINDANAO.
These are some of the things that await you in the #ARMMazing Province of Maguindanao – all at their best.
What used to be a laid back province in the Philippines is now an emerging tourist destination in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao – an emerging destination that has created buzz and interest especially in social media. Blessed with majestic mountains, unspoiled waterfalls and springs, magnificent lakes, vibrant and rich culture, warm people and delectable flavors, Maguindanao is an amazing destination to explore and experience.
HERE ARE SOME OF THE PHOTO TEASERS THAT CAN ENTICE YOU
TO TRAVEL TO MAGUINDANAO
Travel to Maguindanao and be inspired by the stories of its people, be at awe by the spectacular view of its landscape and seascape, be filled by the deletable flavors and be amazed by their wonderful culture.
For the very first time, the Province of Maguindanao in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao will be celebrating the Inaul Festival, a festival honoring the Province and its people’s identity and cultural heritage – the Inaul.
INAUL, a Maguindanaon word that literally means “weaved”, is a unique fabric manually and meticulously woven mostly by Maguindanaon women weavers in Mindanao. More than just piece of textile used traditionally as a “malong”, it is considered as a “Bara-Bangsa”, a term tantamount to something with royalty, dignity and nobility. In the past, the use of inaul in Muslim Mindanao was a status symbol and worn always with pride and respect.
Inaul weaving is said to have more than twenty designs, with the royal heirloom piece being the rarest since it is no longer being produced. Other ways of inaul weaving include the “umpak”, “binaludto”, “panigabi” or “taro” and “binaludan”, which is also called “ikat” by the T’boli and the tribes of Cordillera. There are three types of threads used in weaving the inaul: the cottony “tanor”, the silky “rayon”, and the shiny “katiyado”. “Rayon” and “tanor” can be combined to form a malong called “mestiza.”
The colors of the inual fabric reflects the vibrant culture of Maguindanao. Each color used in weaving corresponds to a specific meaning. Yellow and orange is for royalty while red represents bravery. White is the color of purity that speaks of grief and mourning, whereas, green indicates peace and harmony. Black denotes nobility and dignity.
Today, the inaul is no longer confined to “malong” and other traditional garments. The beautiful woven fabric of Maguindanao is now being made into modern outfits, such as gowns, long and short sleeved shirts for men, trousers, accessories, among many others. An example of the modern evolution of the inaul are the fashionable and glamorous ball gowns worn by the Miss Universe candidates during the recent Mindanao Tapestry Show in Davao City.
With inaul in the spotlight and on the world stage, the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao gives honor to this regal fabric of Maguindanao along with the weavers who painstakingly create them with the celebration of the first Inaul Festival sa Maguindanao on Febreuary 9-14.
The Department of Tourism-ARMM supports this endeavor and commits to align its tourism promotions program in helping preserve, protect, promote and develop this intangible cultural heritage of Maguindanao.