Tawi-Tawi is a land most travelers haven’t gone to. Perhaps because it is unheard-of as a swell destination compared to Philippine tourist staples like Cebu and Palawan. Or maybe because it seems unreachable as is suggested by its singsong name originally uttered by Prehistoric vagabonds as “jaui-jaui” meaning “far away.”
While this distant province lies on the outskirts of common awareness—it is situated in the southernmost region of the country, sharing sea borders with the Malaysian state of Sabah and the Indonesian North Kalimantan province—it would be unwise to discard it as a place of minimal wonder. It may be far but its pulchritude is not far-fetched, just undiscovered.
This short video Jasper Ivan Iturriaga took while hovering above the island is proof of this. The brief shots taken from an aerial perspective of their trip from Mapun island to Brooke’s Point, where the Philippine Port Authority is located, are enough to validate the integrity of the beaches of Tawi-Tawi: spectacular islands appearing amoeba-like from 6,000 feet above, bordered by calming shades of turquoise and cobalt blue.
The island of Mapun, a municipality in Tawi-Tawi also known as Cagayan de Sulu, is a natural cauldron of freshwater lakes, mystic springs, and rocky cliffs. The islets surrounding it are home to turtles being raised.
In the video, Jasper, who is a pastor of the Jakarta International Seventh Day Adventist Church, speaks with the pilot about what “God is doing here in this part of the Philippines,” and if we base it on what we see from outside the window of the air ride Jasper lets us in, we’ll know how truly blessed we are.
Here are some screencaps of the video: