Basilan: A Piece of Heaven

Basilan has been notorious for its gargantuan share of news about bombings, kidnappings, and killings. Because of such a reputation, Basilan is not even advised to be included in a traveler's, both foreign and local, itinerary of must-see places in the Philippines. Except for some brave souls who happily rush to Basilan for adventure, it is nonetheless a place where angels fear to tread. But if beaches were pieces of heaven for sun and sea worshippers, then there are a lot of them on the main island and its surrounding unsullied sandbars.

Most visitors coming to this place do not know that behind Malamawi islet across the wharf of Isabela, the capital city, is a little piece of heaven on earth.

How do you get there? From Zamboanga City, there are at least 10 trips by ferry boats to Basilan which take an hour and a half at a maximum. Upon disembarking, there are motorboats just a few meters away. They are ready to take you for a two-minute ride across the channel to the islet for a measly fare of five bucks.

Once there, you take a habal-habal ride if there are only a few of you and do not have much to carry such as provision for food. For groups, elf and mini-trucks can also be had for round trips. You will negotiate a typical village road with lush vegetation around, as a breath-taking view awaits you on the other side. Or if you wish to go the convenient way, get the services of a motorized boat that will take you around the other half of the island and bring you right smack to the beach. You will sail through mangrove areas and those oft-photographed houses on stilts that speak of the Badjao's peculiar way of life.

The boatman is at your beck and call as he waits for you the entire day until you decide to go back to the city proper across the channel.

All inconveniences are all worth the trip upon reaching the place, known for its name as White Beach. Once there, you could not help but gasp in awe at the sight of such pristine beach,that has maintained its rustic ambience. The sand is naturally white, unlike other resorts filled with white sand coming from other sources. Taking a dip, lazing on a hammock, playing beach volleyball, snorkeling, or simply lazing under the shades are just few of the things you can do there. Walking on a bar of sand equally proves like walking on clouds as you allow the surf to rush to and kiss your feet.

When the tide has ebbed, picnickers are transformed into beach combers who scour the stones on the side of the beach for edible finds.

You also draw a little thrill if you also happen to discover a starfish.

The beach is packed on weekends and holidays. Since this is an Islam-dominated place, bikinis and swimsuits are frowned upon. So it is wise to be aware of the dress code when going to this beach or to any beach around Basilan. I prefer going there with friends during weekdays and non-holidays because that means having the beach all to ourselves. Then maybe that's the time we wear our skimpy suits and bikinis away from the ogling eyes of the male species.

Editor’s note:Yahoo Philippines encourages responsible comments that add dimension to the discussion. No bashing or hate speech, please. You can express your opinion without slamming others or making derogatory remarks.