Excerpt from my article: "Tawi-Tawi: on the Edge of Paradise" (by Jojie Alcantara)
An island province of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), Tawi-Tawi lies in the southwestern tip of the Philippines, sharing sea borders with the Malaysian State of Sabah and the Indonesian East Kalimantan province. Flanked by the province of Sulu to the northeast and Sabah, Malaysia to the west, one can visibly see the neighboring country on a clear day from the highest peak, Bud Bongao. Tawi-Tawi also covers some islands in the Sulu Sea to the northwest, the Cagayan de Tawi-Tawi Island and the Turtle Islands, just 20 kilometers away from Sabah.
Tawi-Tawi forms a part of the Sulu Archipelago chain of islands which has small submarine ridges protruding from the sea, extinct volcano cones and winding limestone-based isles rising from the southernmost ridge. This island chain is said to be an important migration path for birds. From the plane, its irregular shape of islets tinged with fringes of white sandy beaches and rocky coastlines make this province of 107 islands (a combined land area of 462 sq. miles) a veritable world class tourist destination in the future. Some of the islets even resemble those of the stunning atolls in Maldives. From my plane window, uninhabited tiny dots form a chain and had amoeba-like appearances … solid around the edges with lagoons in the middle.
Composed of 11 municipalities, the unique island clusters are home to the Tausugs, various groups of Sama people including the semi-nomadic Badjao, land-based Sama, Yakan and Jama Mapun. The people are warm and friendly, peace loving, and content with the islander pace of life.
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