The volcanic island of Jolo in Sulu has been a staple on recent news lately. More so on the rampant kidnappings happening on the region, particularly in Southern tip of Mindanao. Just recently, this early 2009 there were around 10 kidnappings reported, from missionaries, traders, volunteers and even a 9 year old boy who just came out of a computer shop was kidnapped. It is a sad fact but there are really places in the Philippines that are best avoided and one of those is this volcanic island of Sulu. Quite ironic when we landed on Zamboanga Airport, there was a WOW Sulu banner on the arrivals.
I’ve seen some photos and heard a lot about how beautiful the Sulu Archipelago is. In fact, the walled city of Sulu was ahead in development already when little Manila was just starting out to be a city. But somewhere along the way it took a wrong turn. Now it’s one of the regions most Filipinos are afraid to travel to. We had a chance to take glimpse of Sulu from the port when our Weesam Fastcraft took a quick stop to board passengers from the island back to Zamboanga. We wanted to go down for a while at the port but there was not enough time. The kind lady from Tawi-tawi seated beside us even warned us not to go down there. Tourism people of Tawi-tawi also advised us not to venture there as well. I guess people even from Tawi-tawi knows the danger of the place.
I remember hearing a news before, around three years ago, when a Photogrpaher, shooting a sunset at the wharf was shot dead. It seem these people shot him out of a whim or nothing better to do. I don’t know the whole story but it’s enough for me to be cautious. And during the trip, we bumped into a couple of backpackers who met this swiss lady backpacking on her own. She went there at Jolo but the marines fetched and escorted her to their camp for safety because she was alone.
My point in this post? Is that travels has dangers and it’s best to be responsible enough to know and decide which places to go or avoid. And also to point out that dangerous territories are just that, selected spots not the whole region. It’s sad that when people say Mindanao, we already get the impression that the whole region is dangerous. That is unfair and too generalizing. There are dangerous places in Mindanao, but it sure is big enough to avoid them. This post is a prelude to the next series of Tawi-Tawi Travelogues. The southern most region that seems to be unfortunately caught up with the negative reputation the neighboring island of Jolo has.
Ferdz Decena is an award-winning travel photographer, writer and blogger. His works has found print in publications such as Singapore Airlines’s Silver Kris, Philippine Airlines’ Mabuhay, Cebu Pacific’s Smile and Seair InFlight. He has also lent his expertise to various organizations like the Oceana Philippines, Lopez Group Foundation, Save the Children and World Vision, contributing quality images for their marketing materials.