(Officially: Province of
; Fil. - Lalawigan ng Basilan; Chavacano -
Provincia de Basilan) is an island province of the Philippines most of which is located within the Autonomous Region in Muslim
Mindanao (ARMM), except its capital, Isabela City, which is administered as part of the Zamboanga Peninsula Region. Basilan is located just off the southern
coast of Zamboanga
Peninsula. Basilan is the biggest and northernmost among
the major islands of the Sulu Archipelago.
Basilan, although classified as a 4th-Class Province in terms of
gross provincial income, is the only Province within the ARMM
which is included in the Philippines' bottom 20
"Least-Poor" Provinces, having consistently shown one of the lowest
incidences of poverty at only 26.19% of the general population,
ranked 61 among the Philippines' 81 Provinces (in comparison, Sulu
which is ranked first has a poverty incidence of 63.24%).
importantly, the gap between Basilan's rich and poor residents is
among the narrowest in the country (ranked 3rd nationwide),
pointing to one of the most equitable distributions of wealth
anywhere in the country (Gini
Coefficient 0.2826, which is slightly better than the Provinces
of Pampanga, Bulacan, Nueva Ecija, Tarlac, Cavite, Batanes and Batangas; internationally, Basilan's Gini coefficient is
comparable to the national averages in Germany, Sweden, Norway and Austria, and better
than Canada, France, Spain, Italy, UK, USA and South Korea).
Nationally, too, Basilan is 8th from the top (98.03%-2001;
98.7%-1999 at no. 7; 93.4%-1998 at no. 29) on the percentage of
families with members of 18 years old and over gainfully employed.
Basilan is likewise ranked no. 27 (88.17%; 2001) for percentage of
families with head gainfully employed (down from no. 7 spot in 1999
at 98.7%; and no. 20 in 1998 at 93.40%).
Examples of finely crafted Moro blades
made from Basilan "basih" (iron).
Local Yakan oral traditions offer several names for pre-historic
Basilan. Among the various names offered were "Uleyan" derived from
the present-named Basilan Peak (Puno Mahaji), and later changed to
"Matangal" after a mountain farther to the east of the island.
These are names presumably used by the Maguindanao traders from
mainland Mindanao, using these mountains as visible landmarks to
guide them when navigating the Celebes Sea. Other names
romantically given were "Puh Gulangan" or "island of forests",
"Umus Tambun" or "fertile land", "Kumalarang" after the westward
flowing river on the island's western half which is also otherwise
called "Baunuh Peggesan".
Pre-Hispanic texts from Royal archives of the Sulu Sultanate
referred to the northernmost
island of the Sulu Archipelago as Taguima (Fr. Taguime) from the
who were called "Tagihamas" (people of
the interior or hinterlands) by the Tausug
(who came and settled in numerous
but scattered communities strung along Basilan's western and
southwestern shores and outlying islets and island groups).
Later references pointed to a place called "Bantilan", probably
referring to Maluso, which was established as a major Tausug base
by Sulu Sultan Muizz ud-Din (whose princely name was Datu
Imperial Chinese texts, however, are widely
agreed to have been in contact with a "Kingdom of Kumalarang"
during the Ming
Dynasty, which is also believed to be the self-same island
which now has a Barangay of the same name on its northwestern
The earliest map of the Philippines which made reference to an
island labeled "Taguima" was by Giacomo
, through woodblock prints in 1548 and subsequently
published in the influential travel book of Giovanni Battista Ramusio
Della Navigatione e Viaggi
, which was published between
1556 and 1583 in 3 volumes. This was followed by Abraham Ortelius in his work "Indiae
Orientalis Insularumque Adiacientium Typus" published 1573 in a
German text edition of the Atlas "Theatrum Orbis Terrarum" at
Christopher Platin in Antwerp, Belgium.
As late as
1719, a map titled "Die philippinische Inseln - Isle Brneo" by
Allain Manesson Mallet of Frankfurt, Germany was
published which features an island still labeled "Tagyma
How all these were eventually changed to Basilan is, as is the norm
among most of the Philippines' place names, simple miscommunication
between the natives and the Spanish (who probably meant well but
heard wrong), Royal dynastic politics in Madrid, as well as the
penchant to engage in editorial license by European map-makers of
the aforesaid era.
Quite poignantly, as though a harbinger of its violent and colorful
history, Basilan's name is derived from its iron ore deposits
turned into elegant weapons - blades and knives - which used to be
plainly abundant in that period of swashbuckling Conquistadores
and Tausug pirates and
The first Spanish map of Mindanao
officially naming "Basilan" island (instead of Taguima/Tagyma) by
Nicolas Norton Nicols, published in 1757, during the reign of
Spanish King Ferdinand VI (July 9, 1746 to August 10, 1759)
Pioneering Tausug warriors and slave-traders from Sulu, came to
Taguima to purchase high-quality magnetic iron
ores which were brought back to Sulu and turned into swords and
blades crafted by local smiths. This profitable trade in iron ore,
helped in large measure by the establishment of Maluso as a major
military-naval base of the Sulu Sultanate, eventually gave the
island the distinction of being "the place to go for
'basih-balan'", with 'basih-balan' being the Tausug word for
magnetic iron (Tagalogs call this magnetic iron ore "batobalani").
Roughly translated and abbreviated, however, "'Basih'-lan" means:
"the iron (magnet
) trail" or "the iron
When several Tausug warriors were caught by the Spanish in one of
their numerous raids on the Zamboanga settlement, Spanish officials
supposedly admired the artistry and skill that went into making the
warriors' elaborately decorated swords, knives and blades, and
asked where these weapons could be bought. From atop the ramparts
of the Spanish commandery at the '’Fuerza del Nuestra Senora del
Pilar de Zaragoza (Fort
Pilar), the warriors supposedly pointed to the island
visible across today's Basilan Strait, and said, simply: "ha
Reports from the Jesuit reducciones in Zamboanga and Pasangen
(Isabela) were relayed to Manila where Spanish Cartographer
Pedro Murillo de Velarde
published the "Historia de la Provincia de Philipinas de la
Compañia de Jesvs. Segvnda parte" featuring a map of the
Philippines with the as yet unofficial "I. Basilan". This was
printed at the Jesuit printing press of Manila in 1749.
was re-published by German (Leipzig) map-maker
Nicolaus Bellinn for general
European circulation in 1752, again carrying "I.
Finally, to represent a clear break from the Habsburg
Dynasty (which ruled Spain for 184 years
from 1516 to 1700), the first officially sanctioned Spanish maps of
its colonies, including "Las Islas de Mindanao," were commissioned
by the Bourbons
particular map of Mindanao, apparently copied from the Nicolaus
Bellinn map of 1752, was published by Nicolas Norton Nicols in 1757
featuring "Basilan" and bearing the royal stamp of Spanish Bourbon
King Ferdinand VI. It has been called "Isla de Basilan" (Basilan
Island) ever since.
"Treasure Islands of the Southern Seas"
Basilan Island's reputation variously as a favored staging-ground
for Moro raids on Zamboanga, the Visayas and even Luzon, and
therefore the repository of much of the loot from these raids
before they were shipped farther on to Jolo, gave it a notoriety
not unlike the "Treasure Islands" of the West Indies or the
Buccaneer's havens and pirate coves of the Caribbean.
Throughout the era, Spanish and Tausug fleets engaged each other in
sea battles and skirmishes not far from the western shores of the
islands, many of which were scuttled and sunk, sometimes with
precious cargo of traded goods and Mexican silver pieces meant for
the Fort in Zamboanga and the Naval squadron in Isabela, as well as
goods en route to Jolo from the Mindanao mainland.
Even at a much earlier date, the Spanish, through the Pigafetta
expedition, dropped by a group of Islets west of the Basilan (see
also History of Basilan
they found precious pearls, and which subsequent Spanish
cartographers aptly named Isletas de Perlas (Pearl Islets). Native
Samal and Bajao folk heard this, eventually calling this group of
islets and reefs "Pilas" (Perlas), a geographical name which is
still used to this day.
Of more recent vintage, local residents have likewise been relaying
stories about gold bars and other trinkets stuffed in wooden crates
and buried among the many islets west of the main island, by
retreating Japanese troops at the end of World War II. To date,
treasure hunters of various nationalities, among them Japanese and
Europeans, have scoured the area for this fabled treasure.
All these tales of "Hidden Treasures" in Basilan's many,
unpopulated and remote islets, eventually gave Basilan its
nickname: the "Treasure Islands of the Southern Seas", immortalized
in the official Anthem of the Province of Basilan, "Fair Basilan"
(see also Basilan Jaycees
by Basilan lyricist and composer Snr. Tranquilino Gregorio, and
first recorded in 1974 by the U.P. Madrigal Singers, with the accompaniment of
the CCP Philharmonic Orchestra, and arranged and conducted
by National Artist Lucrecia
The province of Basilan has an aggregate historical jurisdiction of
135,892 hectares, with mainland Basilan encompassing an area of
124,892 hectares. The main island of Basilan is joined by the Pilas
Group' of islands (now Hajji Muhtamad Municipality) west of the
island, and the Bubuan and Tapiantana Group of islands (now Tabuan
Lasa Municipality) in the south. These are listed among the
Philippine islands with a moderate risk of getting hit by
Basilan in Mindanao, Philippines
(Regions IX, X, XII and ARMM)
Basilan is geographically located between latitude 6°15' and 7°00'
longitude 121°15' and 122°30'.
Basilan is one of a system of 7,107 islands that make up the
Philippine archipelago. Regionally, Basilan is the biggest and
northernmost island of the Sulu Archipelago between the Philippine island of Mindanao and Borneo which
includes about 400 islands.
The island chain is one of two
partial land bridges to Borneo and is an important migration route
for birds. Basilan Strait, about at its narrowest point, separates
Basilan Island from the mainland of Mindanao and the port city of
The island is washed by the Basilan Strait from the North, the Sulu
Sea from the Northwest and West, the Moro Gulf from the Northeast,
and the Celebes Sea from the South, Southeast and East.
The island of Omosmarata in Tuburan (now Mohammad Ajul) is listed
among only fifteen (15) sites in the Philippines with commercially
viable ocean thermal
potential. The Philippines' ocean thermal resource area
is 1000 square kilometers, based on the archipelagic nature of the
country. Based on a study, the potential capacity for this resource
is estimated to be 265 million megawatts.
Likewise, the Basilan Strait is listed among only eight (8) sites
in the Philippines with commercially viable ocean tidal energy
potential (along with
Bohol/Talibon Strait, Basiao Channel, Surigao Strait, Gaboc
Channel, Hinatuan Passage, San Bernardino Strait and San Juanico
Provinces of Basilan, Samar and Surigao have both high ocean thermal and ocean
tidal energy potential for future development, a veritable gold
mine in energy if properly harnessed.
Basilan likewise has fairly significant (yet underdeveloped)
mineral deposits, specifically, iron ore ("basih"-lan), gold,
manganese, copper, coal and rich agricultural lands.
Alienable and disposable lands cover 862.249 km2
forest lands occupy 406.526 km2
are under forest cultivation, while
are under agricultural
The Sulu Sea and Celebes Sea provides Basilan aquatic resources
such as tuna, mackerel and sardines. Most of these are
processed in canning factories located in nearby Zamboanga
City, General Santos City (The Philippines' Tuna Capital), and Navotas.
The climatic condition is the same as other areas in the entire
Zamboanga Peninsula. The annual average rainfall is 1,100
millimeters and mean annual temperature is 26.6 °C. Source of
rainfall is the southwest monsoon and its location in the Intertropical Convergence
. The climate is classified as Am
using the Köppen climate
as part of Mindanao, is outside the typhoon belt.
winds are from the southwest with a speed of .
March to May is hot and dry, with temperature at 22 degrees
Celsius. June to October is rainy. November to February is cool,
with temperatures ranging from 22 degrees Celsius to 28 degrees
Celsius. Average humidity year-round is 77%.
The terrain is relatively plain with several undulating slopes
(especially in Isabela City) along the coastal areas and hilly
towards the interior. Urban areas are usually 2.5 meters above sea
level and gently sloping to 300 meters toward the hinterlands. The
stand of timber and forest vegetation is more or less evenly
Basilan National Park
located at the eastern portion of the remaining public forest
located between the City of Isabela and the municipalities if
Lamitan, Tipo-Tipo and Sumisip. It has an elevation of 971 meters
above sea level, where the The tallest peak, Puno Mahaji or the
Basilan Peak, is located and dominates the landscape.
Flora and Fauna
Several species of Flora and Fauna have been discovered to be
unique to Basilan, some of whom have been named accordingly, this
includes the following:
The Basilan Flying Squirrel
(Petinomys crinitus) is a species of rodent in the Sciuridae
family. It is endemic to the Philippines, but found extensively in
The Philippine Tarsier
an endangered tarsier species endemic to the Philippines. It is
found in the southeastern part of the archipelago, particularly in
the provinces of Bohol, Samar, Leyte, and Mindanao, Philippines.
Its name is derived from its elongated "tarsus" or ankle bone. Its
geographic range also includes Maripipi Island, Siargao Island,
Basilan Island and Dinagat Island. Believed to be about 45 million
years old, and perhaps one of the oldest land species to
continuously live in the Philippines, it was only introduced to
western biologists in the 18th century.
The Basilan Island
(Ichthyophis glandulosus) is a species of amphibian
in the Ichthyophiidae family. It is endemic to the Philippines. Its
natural habitats are subtropical or tropical moist lowland forests,
subtropical or tropical moist montanes, rivers, intermittent
rivers, freshwater springs, plantations , rural gardens, heavily
degraded former forest, irrigated land, and seasonally flooded
The Pycnonotus urostictus
Found and documented in the Philippines, specifically Isabela,
Basilan, on November 15, 1887, by Moseley, E L. Published by
STEERE, J. B., in a list of the birds and mammals collected by the
Steere expedition to the Philippines.
The Basilan Tarictic
(Penelopides panini basilanicus), a variant of
(Tweeddale, 1877). Also published by STEERE, J. B.,
in a list of the birds and mammals collected by the Steere
expedition to the Philippines.
The Everett's White-eye
(Zosterops everetti basilanicus), with distribution
throughout the Philippines, but more extensively in Basilan,
Dinagat, Mindanao, Siargao, and Camiguin. (Everett's White-eye,
The Basilan Oriole
basilanicus Ogilvie-Grant). There has been some confusion over
whether the name Oriolus steerii Sharpe, 1877, should be attached
to the population of Basilan or the population of Negros of the
Philippine oriole. Two separate descriptions appeared (Sharpe, 1877
a, b) and differed. A decision on which was the prior description
was taken by Dickinson et al. (1991) and a fresh review of the
facts shows that they were incorrect in selecting Basilan as the
type locality of the nominate form. That decision was in
contradiction to the approach taken by Greenway in Mayr &
Greenway (1962). As there, the name must be assigned to the
population of Negros. As a result, the population of Basilan must
be called O. s.
basilanicus Ogilvie- Grant
, 1896, or if a broader
species-concept is preferred O. xanthonotus
, 1896. The name nigrostriatus Bourns
& Worcester, 1894, returns to the synonymy of nominate steerii.
The specimen in Tring is designated as the lectotype of steerii
Sharpe, 1877, because the Michigan specimen, from Isabela de
Basilan, is not representative of the nominate population of
trees , lofty, emergent, with grayish brown to
orange flaky , prominently lenticellate bark and aromatic oily
white resin, with stout buttresses. Stipules large, enclosing
terminal bud, finally caducous and leaving an annular scar ; leaf
blade leathery, plicate in bud and ± corrugate when opened; lateral
veins pinnate, straight; tertiary veins subscalariform, conspicuous
, margin entire or sinuate-crenate. Raceme 3-9-flowered, hardly
branched. Flowers large, sweetly scented. Calyx with urceolate or
cup-shaped free basal tube ; sepals valvate , unequal. Petals white
or with a reddish median stripe , pubescent or stellate pubescent
especially on parts exposed in bud. Anthers yellow, linear ,
equivalved; connective appendages aristate or filiform . Ovary
narrowly ovoid , pubescent; style filiform; stigma slightly dilated
. Fruit nutlike, enclosed in accrescent calyx tube ; winglike calyx
lobes 2, erect . Seed adnate to base of pericarp; cotyledons large,
thick, unequal; radicle inconspicuous.
About 70 species: Cambodia, China, India, W Indonesia, Laos,
Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Vietnam; two
species (one introduced ) in China. Published by Foxworthy
Publication, in the Philippine Journal of Science, Botany, 1918,
vol. xiii, no. 179.
Basilan Province Population
Distibution (NSO Figures 2000)
Basilan has a median age of 19 years, a lot lower than the 1995
median age of 25 years.
The sex ratio is almost even. There were 166,413 males and 166,415
females in the 2000 CPH. However, there were more females in the
age group 15 to 39 years and more males in all other age
More than 55.2 percent belongs to the economically active
population aged 15 to 64 years. About 42.3 percent are young
dependents (aged 0 to 14 years) while less than three percent are
old dependents (aged 64 years and over). The overall dependency
ratio is 81.2. This means that for every 100 persons aged 15 to 64
years, there were about 77 young dependents and 4 old
Married persons accounted for 47.76 percent of the total persons 10
years old and over, lower than the 1995 figure (49.11 percent) by
1.35 percentage points. Single persons comprised 43.80 percent in
2000, from 45.71 percent in 1995. The widowed (4.49 percent) had
less than one percentage point difference with the proportion
registered in 1995 (3.89 percent). Those with other arrangements
increased from 3.87 percent in 1995 to 4.49 percent in 2000.
Out of 60,710 housing units in Basilan, 60,699 units (99.98
percent) were occupied by 61,546 households. This rate of occupancy
was higher than that of 1990 (95.6 percent). It recorded a ratio of
1.01 households for every occupied housing unit or 5.48 persons per
occupied housing unit.
Members of the BCHS-BNHS Alumni
Association during a get-together in preparation for the Grand
Alumni Homecoming of April 2009
A large proportion (94.3 percent) of the occupied housing units in
Basilan in 2000 were single houses. Three-fourths (75.9 percent) of
the occupied housing units did not need repair or with minor repair
while 17.8 percent needed major repair. One out of nine occupied
housing units was built from 1996 to 2000.
The proportion of occupied housing units with roofs made of
galvanized iron/aluminum rose from 23.1 percent in 1990 to 42.5 in
2000. On the other hand, roofs made of cogon/nipa/anahaw declined
from 69.6 percent in 1990 to 50.3 percent in 2000. As to
construction material of the outer walls, the use of wood rose by
10.2 percentage points, from 42.2 percent in 1990 to 52.4 percent
Out of Basilan's estimated 60,582 families, 19,740 live in urban
areas and 40,842 are rural. Average Poverty thresholds
province-wide are pegged at Php9,271.00 as monthly family income,
of which Php10,997.00 is considered the urban threshold and
Php8,080.00 for rural families. 26.20% of the total population is
below the poverty threshold, this comprises 36.50% of the urban
population and 21.20% of the rural population. Poverty incidence is
defined as the proportion of families whose income cannot provide
for the basic food and non-food requirements called the poverty
threshold to the total number of families. (magnitude of poor
families / total number of families) X 100. Its a Human Development Index
(The preceding figures are from the National Statistical
Coordination Board - NSCB Philippine Database, Census of 2000
The three biggest cultural influences on the island are derived
from the native Yakan
, the Tausug
and the Chavacano
Both Yakans and Tausugs are predominantly Muslim, while Chavacanos
are primarily Christian. These three groups represent Basilan's
The Chavacanos are joined by the Cebuano and Ilonggo/Hiligaynon
Bisaya to form the main block collectively called the "Christians",
as a clear majority of the Christian population of the island hails
from these tribes. Yet another curious cultural reference point is
manifested when locals, usually Tausugs and Samals, would say:
"Mag-tausug na kaw", which apparently means "Become a Muslim",
instead of the more correct translation: "Become a Tausug", owing
probably to the exalted position of the Tausug tribe as the
"original Muslims" of the area. Albeit majority of the Yakans have
converted to Islam in later centuries, a significant number still
conform to traditional local beliefs, traditions and rituals, and
yet another significant number has likewise converted to
Christianity as well.
YAKAN INTERIOR/EAST: Yakans gathered
at Materling, Al Barka (Tipo-Tipo), Basilan, visited by ABS-CBN
Foundation Inc., Kapamilya Broadcaster Bernadette Sembrano for a
community outreach with the Philippine National Red Cross -
Culturally, therefore, the Yakan is distinguished from the Tausug
and represents the "Lumad" or indigenous peoples of Basilan, the
Tausugs, on the other hand, together with their Samal and Bajao
allies, are regarded as the "Muslims", and the Chavacanos, Cebuanos
and Ilonggos are the "Christians". All the rest, a mixture of
Tagalogs, Ilocanos, Waray, Bicolanos, Maranaos, Iranuns and
Maguindanaos are more recent migrants or are usually itinerant
merchants and government workers.
This curious mix of ethnicities, forged together first by the
Spanish practice of establishing resettlements or "reducciones", as
well as the Multinational plantations' importation of skilled
Christian farm workers and laborers from the Visayas and Luzon,
gives Basilan one of the most unique cultures in the Philippines
and even in Mindanao. It is the only majority-Muslim province that
is governed by Lumads, and whose most commonly spoken dialect is
decidedly foreign (Chavacano - Spanish patois)!
This delicate balance in Basileño culture is seen primarily through
the interplay of influences among the different tribes that inhabit
Basilan island. Whereas Christian Fiestas are celebrated
throughout, the foremost local festival is Yakan
CHRISTIAN NORTH/NORTHWEST: J.
Alano Street, which, together with N.S.
Vaderroza St. on the opposite side, are the main thoroughfares
of urban Isabela City, connecting Sta.
Isabel Cathedral with the Isabela City Plaza/Plaza Rizal and
the Provincial Capitol (further on, hidden behind the trees), and
ringed by the City's biggest business establishments and banks,
patterned after classic 16th-18th century Spanish
Tausugs and Samals, for the most part having been denied ownership
of land, and owing too to their primary livelihood (fishing), hug
the coastlines, constructing their houses on stilts at the water's
edge of population centers. Their houses are huddled together in
compact seaside communities and are, for the most part, outside of
the municipal water and sewerage systems of the urban centers. The
Yakans, on the other hand, having been driven far inland, are
situated allover the island's interior, in similar raised houses
usually made of light materials, but spread far from each other. It
is not wholly strange to see Yakan neighbors separated by at least
a kilometer or two of jungle and coconut groves between them.
Finally, the Christians are mostly found in the plains, the Cities
and in the plantations, squeezed between the Tausug-dominated
coasts and the Yakan-dominated hinterlands. They make up the bulk
of the island's professionals, entrepreneurs, and lowland farmers.
The Christians own most of the arable land, as well as nearly all
of the businesses and occupy most of the professions.
Because of this seemingly voluntary segregation among the three
groups, Tausug/Samal festivals are usually connected to the sea,
celebrating the seas bounties, even staging dazzling fluvial
wedding parades on colorfully bedecked Vintas and Paraus, a nod at
the Tausug's former naval prowess. Christian fiestas are almost
always related to good harvests from the farms, as well as Saintly
miracles against natural calamities and victories against Moro
attacks. Yakan festivals, meanwhile, are rooted in older,
pre-Islamic rituals such as warrior dances, colorful wedding
pageants, and harvest rituals.
TAUSUG SOUTH/SOUTHWEST: Main road at
Port Holland, Maluso, Basilan, leading to the USAID-GEM constructed
Ro-ro Port, and flanked by Tausug traders and market stall
Culturally, therefore, "Christians" and "Muslims" have a closer
relationship, both professionally as well as in trade and commerce,
being regarded as the island's "lowlanders", relative to either
one's direct contacts and connections with the more aloof and
inward-looking Yakan, regarded as "de arriba" by the Christians or
"tagihamas" by the Tausugs, which roughly translates as
"uplanders". Conversely, the Yakan is traditionally suspicious of
the intents and motives of its lowland neighbors, having been at
the receiving end of slave raids, invasions and punitive attacks
from both groups for over 500 centuries.
With the island's strategic location right at the crossroads of the
warring camps of Tausugs and the Spanish, Basilan was henceforth
divided into three primary spheres of relative cultural dominance
by one group over the other two. Basilan's northern and
northwestern coasts, facing the heavily Hispanized Zamboanga City
across the narrow Basilan Strait, is culturally "Christian", or
more precisely - "Filipino Catholic". Basilan's southern and
southwestern coastal areas, washed by the currents that carry the
Tausug trade routes and navies from Sulu and Tawi-Tawi, has a
distinctly Tausug-oriented culture. Almost the entire eastern half
and interior of Basilan, on the other hand, isolated for the most
part from the Spanish in Zamboanga, and the Tausug from Jolo, is
the enclave of the indigenous Yakan.
Basilan Ethnicity Profile
As the Jolo-based Tausug Sultanate grew in power, the native
population of the island withdrew farther and farther inland, until
most of the coastal communities which dotted the island's southern,
western and northwestern shores were primarily inhabited by Tausugs
and their vassal tribes, the Samals and Bajaus (Tau-Laut). The only
exception was the relatively prosperous Yakan community of
The withdrawal of the Yakans inland was hastened even more so when
the Spanish established advance bases on the island's northwestern
coast, bringing in Christianized 'indios' from nearby Zamboanga,
and as far as the Visayas and even Luzon. By then, even the Yakan
communities of Lamitan were completely overrun.
By the eve of the Commonwealth era in the Philippines, local census
estimates showed that a majority of the people of Basilan were
Christian migrants, mostly plantation workers recruited from all
over Mindanao and the Visayas, and Tausug traders, as well as Samal
and Bajau fisherfolk. Only around 5,000 Yakans were counted in the
census. Until then, most Yakans preferred not to inter-act directly
with their lowland neighbors.
Currently, Basilan inhabitants include Christians and Muslims from
a number of tribal groups such as the Yakans
, and to a much lesser extent by Ilonggos
Current census statistics show the following breakdown in
demographics (2000 Census):
- Yakan (137,545 or 41.36%)
- Tausug (76,366 or 22.96%)
(71,344 or 21.45%)
- Others/Samal/Bajao/Tagalog/Maranao/Maguindanao/Bikolano (46,174
Basilan Youth at the Claret School of
Basilan is experiencing a somewhat irrationally rapid increase in
population growth rates. Comparative census results from 2000 and
2007, a period of only 7 years showed an actual increase of
163,675, from 332,828 (2000) to 496,503 (2007) or an increase of
49.17% in the last 7 years alone, an average annual growth rate of
Curiously, the population growth during the 1995-2000 census period
was much more modest. The total population of Basilan, as of May 1,
2000, was 332,828 persons. This implied an increase of only 37,263
persons over the 1995 census figure or an average annual growth
rate of 2.58 percent. This was 1.53 percentage points lower than
the average growth rate recorded in 1995 (4.1 percent). A
corresponding increase on the number of households was also
registered, from 55,137 households in 1995 to 61,546 in 2000. This
resulted to an average household size of 5.4 persons, higher than
the national average of five persons.
Of the seven original municipalities in Basilan as of May 1, 2000,
the municipality of Isabela, the capital of the province, was the
largest in terms of population size with 73,032 persons or 21.94
percent of the total population of the province. This was followed
by Lamitan (17.64 percent), Sumisip (15.23 percent), Tipo-Tipo
(14.50 percent), and Tuburan (12.78 percent). Lantawan and Maluso,
on the other hand, had less than ten percent each.
By 2007, the three biggest LGUs and foremost opposition bailiwicks
saw their population share fall vis-a-vis their
Administration-friendly neighbors: i.e. Isabela City's share has
fallen to only 17.72% (-4.22%) of Basilan's total population
despite it remaining as the most densely populated area on the
island. Lamitan, traditional refugee catch-point is now only at
16.53% (-1.11%); Old Sumisip (2 municipalities: 71,807 pop), with
the biggest aggregate land area likewise fell to 14.46%
US Ambassador Kristie Kenney with Datu
Bantilan Dance Troupe in traditional Yakan costume.
On the other hand, Administration-allied areas of Old Tipo-Tipo (3
municipalities: 83,249 pop.) is 16.75% (+2.25%) and is now bigger
than Lamitan; Old Tuburan (3 municipalities: 73,942 pop.) is 14.89%
(+2.11%) and is now bigger than Old Sumisip. Old Lantawan (2
municipalities: 49,270 pop.) is still below 10% at 9.92%, while
Maluso (48,175 pop.), also below 10%, is at 9.7% of total.
The 7-year period increases are widely disparate, which explains
the 2000-2007 percentage figures stated above. In Isabela City, the
population growth is 20.47% (+2.92% per annum; 73,032 in 2000, to
87,985 in 2007) slower when compared to the newly created Akbar
Municipality, scene of many of the latest gun-battles between
government troops and Moro separatist/extremist groups. The
municipality's population growth is 101.42% in the last seven years
(+14.48% per annum; 10,581 in 2000 to 21,312 in 2007).
Apart from Akbar municipality itself, the erstwhile small and
sparsely populated municipalities of Ungkaya Pukan grew by 89.74%
(+12.82%/an.), Muhammad Ajul by 79.72% (+11.38%/an), Lantawan
(incl. Hji. Muhtamad) by 79.25%(11.32%/an.), Tipo-Tipo by 76.57%
(+10.94%/an.), Al-Barka by 63.86% (9.12%/an.), Maluso by 55.13%
(+7.87%/an.), and Tuburan by 52.03% (+7.43%/an.).
On the other hand, the island's three biggest LGUs all clocked-in
below 50% growth rates, these are: Lamitan, which grew by 39.80%
(+5.68%/an.), Sumisip (incl. Tabuan Lasa) by 38.85% (+5.55%/an.),
with Isabela City dead-last.
The average aggregate annual population increase in the 7-year
period for the ten (10) municipalities and one (1) city that
comprise Basilan is a mind-boggling 9.12%. The average annual
population growth rate of the rest of the Philippines is only
These figures are verifiable from the National Statistics and
Coordination Board and National Statistics Office of the
These abnormally rapid growth rates have been attributed mainly to
the practice of local governments, especially those under Akbar
control, to augment their real population numbers in order to: (1)
corner a bigger slice of the Internal Revenue Allotment fund given
to Philippine LGUs, (2) to fulfill minimum requirements set by the
Philippine Local Government Code (for the newly created
municipalities and Lamitan city), (3) as well as a reserve of votes
for local political clans from constituencies that "usually" record
100% turn-outs during election periods.
Basilan Faith Profile
Kaum Purnah Mosque, oldest
"masjid" on the island of Basilan
Basilan has a population that is 27% Christian
(90% of whom are Roman Catholic
) and 71% Muslim
. Non-Catholic Christians identify with the
(Anglican Catholics), and Iglesia ni Cristo
, and a number of other Protestant denominations. Only
the most recent Chinese immigrants exclusively adhere to Buddhism
, while most
of the older Chinese families have acculturated and have either
converted to Christianity or Islam while retaining most of their
Seal of the Prelature of Isabela
A majority of Basilan's Christian population are concentrated
mostly in the island's southern slopes. Muslim community resides in
the urban centers of Isabela City and Lamitan Municipality on the
island's northern coast, where they constitute a majority. Sizeable
Christian settlements are likewise found in the former
multi-national plantations, e.g., Tairan, Lantawan; Tumahubong,
Sumisip; Maluso Townsite, Maluso. The rest have a mixture of both
traditional and autochthonal beliefs.
The Prelature of Isabela de Basilan was created on October 12,
1963, and comprises all territories constituting the civil
jurisdiction of Basilan Province, including Isabela City, its
present capital. Its titular patron is Sta. Isabel de Portugal
A majority of Basilan's Muslim population (41%) practice Sunni Islam
of the Shafi'i
tradition, as taught by Arab and Malaccan
missionaries from the 14th century onwards. A substantial number
nevertheless (30%) follow a syncretist mix of Islam and Yakan folk
customs and traditions exclusively among the native Yakan
populations farther inland, and a different version of the same
Folk Islamic tradition which is practiced by the Bajao in Basilan's
outlying islands and surrounding seas.
Relatively newer Islamic sects, mostly from
returning veterans of the Afghan wars and missionaries from
Pakistan's stricter Sufi traditions, referred
to as the Tableegh, have likewise been active in propagating what they
believe to be a "purer" Islamic way of life and worship.
very small number who have since married into Iranian or Iraqi
families have likewise converted to Shiite
is the lingua franca of Basilan,
understood and spoken by nearly 80% of the residents both Christian
and Muslim. Basilan has the biggest concentration of Chavacano
speakers in the Philippines, outside of Zamboanga City.
Native-Chabacano speakers in
Almost all residents also use Filipino
as a second language. Tausug
is also widely spoken and understood,
especially among the Muslim tribes and is spoken and understood by
approximately 70% of Basilan's population. Cebuano
is a preferred
third tongue among the Christian tribes and is spoken and
understood by approximately 60% of all residents.
, although the acknowledged native
dialect of Basilan, is used primarily by the Yakans alone
(constituting 41% of the population), although it is also spoken
and understood by about 15%-20% of the non-Yakan residents. An even
lesser percentage can speak or understand Samal
which are mostly confined to members of
their respective tribes.
The educated classes, both Christian and Muslim, also use English
for most official, business or
government transactions. A dwindling group of native-Spanish
speakers can still be found, nearly
all of them are in Isabela City and Lamitan, and are usually
members of the wealthy landowning class and/or descendants of
expatriate plantation managers. Finally, Chinese
used by the immigrant/naturalized Chinese community in the
Basilan National High School, Roxas
Brown Street, Isabela City, Basilan's premier secondary
Basilan's literacy rates has grown over the past two decades,
although it remains one of the Philippines' lowest. At a mere
72.23% (171,000 of the population are considered literate), it is
comparably better than literacy rates in Sulu, as opposed to the
national figure of 92.6%. The literacy rate in 1990 was 66%
(112,000 persons), while in 1994 it was 72.80% (150,000 persons).
School Year 2003-2004 figures show that grade school enrollment in
public elementary schools are pegged at 43,581 pupils and are
taught by 1,188 public school elementary teachers. Public high
school students number 8,719 taught by 241 public secondary
The Island Province of Basilan has one (1) State College and five
(5) private colleges. The Basilan
is located in Isabela City and has an extension
college in Lamitan City and Maluso.
The Regional Private Schools' Athletic
Games (PRISAA, Jan.
19-21, 2007) hosted by Claret College of Isabela, Roxas Ave.,
Isabela City, Basilan
Among the private higher education institutions in Isabela City,
are the Claret College of
(formerly Fatima High School), established by the
Jesuits as the premier institution for Catholic education; the
Juan S. Alano Memorial School,
, offering midwifery and other health-related courses since
1958 and the first non-sectarian School of Midwifery in Western
Mindanao, affiliated with the Juan S. Alano Memorial Hospital,
(formerly Basilan Hospital), the first private health care
institution in the province . Its campus is located at the Juan S.
Alano Compound, Brgy. Doña Ramona T. Alano. It will soon be opening
choice TESDA-accredited courses through a Technical Vocational
Department. More recently, the pioneer computer school in Zamboanga
Peninsula and the only computer college in Basilan - the Computer Technologies
(COMTECH) Inc. was established in 1997, located along
N.S. Valderrosa Street.
Furigay Colleges, P.
Cuevas St., Lamitan City, Basilan
The schools in Lamitan Municipality are Mindanao Autonomous College
founded in the year 2003. And the Mariam School of Nursing
Mariam School of Nursing was established in 2004 as part of its
Chairwoman's educational outreach program and was named Mariam or
Mother Mary - a unifying and guiding figure among the Christians
and Muslims. An I.T.-based College of Nursing located in Flores
Street corner Rizal Avenue, it envisions to be recognized as a
leading center for nursing and allied health education in the
province. The newest school in Lamitan City would be the Furigay Colleges
dubbed as "a school for
global opportunities", opened its doors on June 2008, offering
courses in B.S. Hotel Restaurant Management, Information
Technology, Computer Science and Midwifery, as well as a number of
Students of the Juan S.
Alano Memorial School, Inc., J.
Alano Compound, Rizal Ave., Isabela City
Basilan is served by two School Divisions of the Department of
Education, one for Basilan and one for Isabela City, though both
are headquartered in Isabela City. A number of public and private
high schools likewise dot the Province. The premier secondary
educational institution on the Island is the Basilan National High School
located in Isabela City, followed by the Lamitan National High
School in Lamitan City. The Claret
of Isabela, Lamitan, Maluso and Tumahubong, and a
number of Madaris provide private secondary instruction.
More than 42 percent of the population five years old and over had
attended or completed elementary education. Only 17.3 percent had
attended or completed high school while 1.5 percent had attended or
finished post secondary education. Less than three percent are
academic degree holders while 6.2 percent were college
undergraduates. A very insignificant number pursued
post-baccalaureate studies. There were more males than females
among those who had attended or finished elementary (51.1 percent),
high school (50.3 percent), among college undergraduates (52.0
percent) and had attended post baccalaureate courses (58.4
percent). On the other hand, there were more females who had
attended/completed post-secondary courses (52.9 percent) and were
academic degree holders (52.34 percent).
JCI Basilan (Basilan Jaycees) Bowling
Basilan has a vibrant civil society and non-governmental
organization/people's organization sector. The oldest and one of
the most enduring civic clubs is the Junior Chamber International
Basilan Inc. (Basilan Jaycees
established in January 11, 1949, JCI Lamitan (Lamitan Jaycees
, est. 1976) and the
Club of Basilan Inc., founded in 1959.
was also home to a Lion's Club
died off sometime in the 1970s. Also present are numerous motoring
clubs, such as the Basilan Motor Club, Freiheit Motorcycle Club,
Xrulz Motor Club and Karancho Inc., and sports clubs, among which
are the Basilan PNP Tennis Club, Basilan Tennis Club, R&R
Tennis Club (Lamitan), Isabela City Badminton Club, as well as a
host of local Basketball Leagues and Clubs. A variety of NGOs
engaged in community mobilization, health, education, governance
and peace-building are represented by the Nagdilaab Foundation
, Inc. (funded by
of Spain and Consuelo Foundation
), Christian Children's Fund
), Kasanyangan Foundation
, Inc. (USAID),
Basilan is likewise served by the Philippine National Red Cross
- Basilan (a subchapter of PNRC Zamboanga), which has figured
prominently in the care of refugees and displaced persons as a
result of the incessant fighting in the island's interior. A number
of environmentalist groups have likewise taken root in the island,
first among these is the Basilan Green Movement. Safety and
Security advocacies are spearheaded by such groups as the Guardians Brotherhood
(GBPI), and a number of neighborhood security
The Catholic Church's lay organizations are represented by the
Knights of Columbus
and San Pedro Councils of Isabela and Lamitan respectively, the
Catholic Women's League
(CWL), Couples for Christ
Singles for Christ
(ME), Columbian Squires
, as well as a number of
other sodalities and associations. The Bishops-Ulama Conference
is one of the most influential voices from civil society,
advocating greater understanding between Christians and Muslims in
The youth sector is populated by an array of Student Councils and
Student Governments under the Provincial Association of Student
Councils (ProASC), as well as a number of civic-oriented youth
organizations such as the 7-chapter Metro Basilan Junior Jaycees
Clubs, Dance Clubs, Fraternities
, and the more recent Text clans.
Basilan Economic Profile
Agriculture is the main source of economic livelihood. Basilan's
major products include coconut (primarily copra
, black pepper
African palm oil
. Other crops are palay
. The island’s
waters produce grouper
. In addition, seaweed
is cultivated along some coastal
Local products also include intricately woven cloth and trinkets by
members of the Yakan tribe. Yakans use fibers from plants such as
for their crafts. The weavers
traditionally used extracts from leaves, roots and barks to dye
their fibers. However, contact with U.S. Peace Corps
workers and Christian Filipinos has
influenced Yakan textile art. One is influence is the introduction
of chemical dyes. The museum of Lamitan displays the colorful and
intricate designs of the traditional Yakan textiles and highlights
of the traditional Yakan Festival called the Lami-lamihan.
Historically, Basilan's economy has seen wild upswings and
downturns over the course of several centuries. Pre-Hispanic
Taguima had an economy based on basic subsistence agriculture,
mostly root crops. Ancient Chinese texts point to the existence of
a "Kingdom of Kumalarang" which presumably was located on the
island's northwestern shore, and which traded occasionally with
Chinese merchants plying the route to the Spice Islands of the
Moluccas and Borneo farther south. Kumalarang was even recorded to
have sent occasional tributes to the Chinese Emperor and his court,
and even sent an embassy, headed no-less by its resident Datu all
the way to the Chinese court in two instances.
By the arrival of the Spanish, other crops such as rice and corn
were introduced and cultivated, primarily for the local consumption
of the growing Christian settlements of Isabela and Lamitan. Trade
with Zamboanga grew tremendously, as most of the needs of the
settlers relied on regular shipments from the busy Zamboanga
The Multinational plantations
President Manuel Quezon tapping the
sap off one of the trees in the Philippines' pioneering Basilan
rubber plantations developed by American Dr. James W.
American occupation brought about the single biggest change in the
local economy. By around 1914, Dr. James W. Strong, a pioneering
American plantation owner, cleared vast tracts of land on the
island's northern plains (Isabela/Lamitan), and established what
eventually came to be the Philippines' first commercial rubber
plantation-- the American Rubber Co. Upon consulting with Fr.
noted botanist of the University of Santo Tomas in Manila he decided to start experimenting with
rubber plants and in 1910 formed the Basilan Rubber Plantation in
partnership with J.M.
Menzi Corporation as principal stock
holders. Seven years later he sold out his interest to J.M.
Corp. and started American Rubber Co. backed by San Francisco capital.
He started building roads in
Basilan with the help of his children of his first marriage mostly
as truck drivers since such skills were not readily available at
the time. Those roads are now part of the National Highway system
The family and plantation prospered and was frequently visited by
such notables as Manuel L. Quezon
President of the Commonwealth of the
Philippines, his vice-president Sergio
, General Douglas
and assorted Governor
for the Philippines.
The plantation was eventually sold to American multi-national
. This was followed
by investments from British-Malayan firm Sime
Corp., which opened their 4,000-hectare rubber plantation
on the island's southern slopes (Sumisip/Tipo-Tipo).
The success of these large-scale cash crop plantations was emulated
by a number of enterprising Filipinos and Spanish-mestizo
families from Zamboanga, Negros and Luzon.
Among these were Don Juan S. Alano, a Hispano-Chinese mestizo
and native of Malolos, Bulacan, who opened
the Philippine National Sugar Co. on Malamawi Island in 1921. This
eventually became the Basilan
, the only wholly-owned Filipino plantation
competing with American and British multi-nationals. It operated
the Malamawi Island plantation which was converted to coconut/copra
production, and opened a 3,800-hectare copra plantation on the
island's western plains (Lantawan). American logging firm Weyerhaeuser
Timber Co. and the American Lumber Co.
, opened large-scale
logging concessions which operated in Basilan's extensive upland
virgin forests. Menzi
Corp., owned by
Hispano-German J. M. Menzi, also opened an extensive rubber
plantation in the southern part of Isabela which eventually
expanded to black pepper and palm oil. The University of the Philippines
was awarded with a 4,000 hectare land grant by the Philippine
Government located in Sta. Clara, Lamitan.
When J. M. Menzi died, he was succeeded at the helm of his
substantial business interests by his son and Marcos crony, Hans
Menzi. When the younger Menzi replaced the plantation's
Swiss-expatriate managers with local hires, these managers in turn
opened up their own plantations elsewhere on the island.
Arnold Winniger, Menzi's Swiss manager, together with the
Cuevas-Pamaran Clan of Lamitan, cleared up the Tumahubong, Sumisip
area for a rubber plantation. Philip Boelsterli, yet another one of
Menzi's Swiss recruits, established yet another rubber plantation
in the Mangal, Sumisip area. An American corporation opened the
Yakan Plantation in Lamitan, and finally, Dutch-American Karl
Wieselski opened another coconut plantation in the Canas, Maluso
area. The Wihara Plantation, a Japanese company, likewise opened in
the Atong-Atong, Lantawan area. This became the source of much of
the coconut varieties planted throughout the island.
USS Vicksburg coaling at the Isabela
Photo taken from the vantage point of the "floating" Naval
By the 1950s and throughout the 1960s, the Chartered City of
Basilan was classified as a first-class City. It exported copra,
coconut oil, rubber and lumber directly to America's Pacific coast
ports in California by way of Guam and Hawaii. Basilan's Isabela
Municipal Wharf regularly had oceangoing vessels at dock, taking on
Basilan's export produce which made Basilan the Philippines'
biggest rubber producer and the country's second biggest coconut
by-products exporter (next only to Quezon Province in Luzon). It
likewise cornered the market for the nation's annual black pepper
harvest, and was consistently at the top 10 biggest producers of
cassava and palm oil.
A substantial number of expatriate plantation managers, mostly
Americans (such as the families of McClintock, Cawley, Wallison,
Robinson, Barnes, Strong, Brown, etc.), but also Swiss (Winniger,
Boelsterli), Germans (Menzi, Werble), Dutch (Wieselski), Russian
(Azery Kozloff) and even Japanese (Wihara, Honda) continued to live
and inter-marry into the native populace.
The Weyerhaeuser Compound (now Tabuk Barangay) was an exclusive
gated community for American expatriates living in Basilan, it had
its own airstrip and wharf, and two-storey plantation-style villas
set apart by expansive yards. The same sort of exclusive gated
communities were put up at the Menzi Compound (Menzi Barangay) for
the Swiss and German managers, and at the Alano Compound (Dna.
Ramona T. Alano Barangay) as well, precursors of modern-day
The Moro uprising
MNLF Fighters surrender their firearms
to President Ferdinand Marcos.
The economic fortunes of the island took a severe nosedive when the
Moro uprising of 1971, led by the maoist Moro National Liberation
Front (MNLF) originating from Sulu, and led by leftist University
of the Philippines lecturer Nur Misuari
infiltrated the plantations, burned entire Christian villages and
terrorized the bigger coastal settlements with raids and bombing
runs. This was compounded by the declaration of Martial Law by
President Ferdinand Marcos
and the decree that effectively created Basilan Province, with its
initial complement of 10 Municipalities (eventually reduced to
By then, politics took center stage, and the resurgent Yakan
uplanders found themselves battling the Tausug lowlanders and their
allies. The incessant Yakan-Tausug pocket battles throughout the
1980s culminated in the burning of Isabela City's downtown market
in 1987. After several revenge killings, Basilan gained notoriety
as the Philippines' "Wild, Wild West". By then, Basilan's economy,
along with the rest of the Philippines', was limping along, barely
surviving the aftermath of these struggles.
CARP and the rise of the Abu Sayyaf
At the onset of the post-Marcos administration of Corazon Aquino
, another blow was dealt to
Basilan's economy. In 1988, Congress passed a law establishing the
Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program
) which inaugurated the land distribution program,
effectively dissolving nearly all corporate plantations on the
CARP, immediately covered Basilan's large multi-national
plantations despite the plantation workers' misgivings and the
landowners' objections. Almost immediately, the large
multi-national corporations and all their investments were
withdrawn from Basilan. Well-cultivated tracts of land were left to
ill-trained, and ill-equipped farmer beneficiaries who managed
operations in a farmers' cooperative format.
The J. S. Alano coconut plantation has since been converted to the
Tairan Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries Association and Multi-Purpose
Cooperative (TARBAMC), the University of the Philippines Basilan
Land Grant into the Sta. Clara Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries
Integrated Development Cooperative (SCARBIDC), the B.F. Goodrich
and Sime Darby rubber plantations were merged and converted into
the Latuan Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries Association Inc. (LARBAI).
The vast tracks of the American-owned Yakan Plantation in Lamitan
was first sold to then Defense Minister (and now Senator) Juan Ponce Enrile
who established his
Cocoland Plantation, this too was redistributed as the Lamitan
Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries Cooperative (LARBECO). A number of
other Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries' Cooperatives have likewise
taken over most of the small to mid-sized plantations on the
Political map of Zamboanga
By the early 1990s, disgruntled Yakan youth preached upon by
returning mujahideen warriors from Afghanistan and schooled in
Syria, Egypt and Pakistan, banded together to form the Al-Harakatul
Al-Islamiyah, better known worldwide as the Abu Sayyaf
, a Muslim extremist group advocating
the delivery of Basilan into strict Islamic governance similar to
Afghanistan's Taliban regime. Starting in earnest, this bandit
group initiated test raids, kidnappings, ambushes and
assassinations in some of the more vulnerable Christian communities
inland, causing the dispersal of these communities and the total
breakdown of the inland economy.
Inclusion in the ARMM and Balikatan 02-1
The Organic Act for the creation of the Autonomous Region of Muslim
Mindanao was also passed into law in 1989. A plebiscite held in 14
Mindanao Provinces was held on the same year. Basilan initially
opted out of the autonomous region. Only Maguindanao (without
Cotabato City), Lanao del Sur (without Marawi City), Sulu and
Tawi-Tawi joined the ARMM.
More than a decade later, in 2001, a new law expanding the ARMM
was passed, and a plebiscite was subsequently
held. While Basilan's five Muslim municipalities (Maluso, Sumisip,
Lantawan, Tipo-Tipo, Tuburan) opted to join the expanded ARMM,
residents of the Christian areas of Isabela City and Lamitan
Municipality, chose not to join. Even then, only Isabela was not
included in the expanded ARMM, having been granted Cityhood earlier
in the same year. Lamitan joined the five other municipalities, as
Basilan was officially enrolled into membership with the expanded
Basilan Security Profile
Widespread corruption in the ARMM
, helped in no
small measure by corruption at the Municipal and Provincial levels
further eroded business confidence in the island. This, plus the
surge of terrorist activities by the Abu
and their Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) cohorts in the
international terrorist network of Al-Qaeda, effectively forced
Basilan's economy to retreat further.
The Basilan hostage crisis of 2001 further raised questions about
the economic future of Basilan. Operations by the militant Islamist
extremist group Abu Sayyaf
prospects for investment and tourism. However, an increased
presence by the Philippine and U.S. military in the area through
the Balikatan 02-1 Joint Military Exercises and the subsequent
death of the Abu Sayyaf leaders Khadafi Abubakar Janjalani and
Aldam Tilao (aka Abu Sabaya), have been followed by investments by
the United States through USAID
reportedly have created 40 new infrastructure projects in the
conflict areas of Mindanao as of 2007. Projects include the Basilan
Tuburan Road Improvement Project and improvements to Lamitan and
Smaller barangay infrastructure projects intended to help boost
economic growth are also under development. For instance,
authorities are building farm-to-market roads, community and trade
centers, water projects, and pedestrian bridges; according to USAID
A number of other ODA-funded Non-Government Organizations (NGOs)
and People's Organizations (POs) flooded Basilan starting 2002.
These NGOs and POs provided much-needed capital infusion for local
entrepreneurs to restart defunct or dying business enterprises.
Likewise, improved training and government-funded support were
extended to decade-old Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries' Cooperatives,
effectively improving productivity levels and crop yields.
Extensive farm management training in these "Coop" areas have
likewise improved business efficiency in the cooperatives.
Currently, Basilan's Minimum Wage is US$3.20/day for
non-agriculture related jobs, and US$2.80/day for agriculture
related jobs. There are only 1,203 registered Overseas Contract
Workers from Basilan.
Return of rubber
Basilan is on its way to becoming the
country's leading rubber producer once again.
By 2003, Basilan embarked on large-scale replanting programs
covering some 50,000 hectares of privately-owned and/or
cooperative-controlled lands, mainly for rubber and cassava. As of
2006, the province had 15,503 hectares planted, of which 7,148
hectares were owned by individual farmers and the rest by
cooperatives. The exact land area devoted to rubber could reach
over 20,000 hectares as there are hundreds of unrecorded small
rubber growers and farmers.
Provincial government show that almost half or 7,029.47 hectares
are immature, about a fifth or 3,143.36 hectares is classed as
"less-productive", and a little under a third or 4,880.21 hectares
is described as "productive."
A consortium of agrarian reform beneficiaries has been formed to
improve quality and increase production. The Isla Corridor
Consortium Agrarian Reform Communities not only sees itself as
reviving the rubber industry, it also wants to help in the
transformation of the battle-scarred province.
The consortium, composed of the United Workers Agrarian Reform
Beneficiaries Multipurpose Cooperative, Lamitan Agrarian Reform
Beneficiaries Cooperative, Sta. Clara, and the Latuan Agrarian
Reform Beneficiaries Association, Inc., accounts for a total area
of about 6,000 hectares, some 80% of which is planted with rubber
Copra processing plant in Isabela
Still the biggest single crop produced in the Province,
coconut/copra production is churning out an annual harvest of only
193,848 metric tons (2003) down from its peak production of
189,297,937 metric tons just two years before. Coconut plantations
and small coconut farmers cover more than 12,000 hectares all of
which are classified as "productive" to "mature" areas.
Coconut plantations have been rehabilitated starting 2006, owing to
the steep rise in copra prices of late. A comprehensive replanting
and rehabilitation program is currently being implemented by the
Philippine Coconut Authority and the Department of Agriculture for
the resuscitation of the island's copra production industry, once
the Philippine's second-largest copra exporter after Quezon
province in Luzon.
Comparative annual figures shows a drastic reduction in coconut
production over the years which was 156,367,036 metric tons in
1999, 172,368,214 metric tons in 2000, and peaked at 189,297,937
metric tons in 2001. However, due to the lingering effects of CARP,
combined with a severe onset of the El Niño
the worsening peace and order condition brought about by the
resurgent Abu Sayyaf terrorist group and their MILF allies, and the
policy of the Akbar administration to cut down entire coconut
plantations and replace these with rubber trees, province-wide
coconut production, which still accounts 50%-60% of the Province's
total economic activity has dropped precipitously to only 174,939
metric tons in 2002, slightly increasing to only 193,848 by
To date, coconut production in the Province, rapidly being replaced
by rubber plantations, has remained in the doldrums. Basilan will
find it hard to regain No. 2 status among the nation's coconut
producers from here on despite the Government's best efforts to
revive the ailing sector.
Coconut Farmers get incentives from PCA.
Samal fisherfolk engaged in Lobster
culture, a project of USAID GEM in Malamawi Is., Isabela City
Basilan's extensive coastline hosts seafarers and fisher folk,
almost all of them Tausug, Samals and Bajaus, who have been engaged
in fishing for several centuries. Annual Basilan fish production is
limited however, only 28,073 metric tons, due to the resistance of
these groups from modernizing their fishing fleets.
Only 2,945 metric tons of palay are produced in Basilan's mostly
rolling terrain. Corn is at 1,333 metric tons, banana at 20,458
metric tons, and 211 metric tons of mangoes. In addition there is
an inventory of 155,541 chicken, 5,085 ducks, 7,803 carabaos (water
buffalo), 2,724 cattle, 14,470 goats, and 14,700 hogs.
Banking, Finance & Business Support
Philippine Chamber of Commerce &
Banks based in Basilan have a total deposit base of more than
Php764,500,000. Among the National commercial banks operating on
the island are Metropolitan Bank & Trust Corp. (Metrobank
), Allied Banking Corp. (Allied Bank
), and Philippine National Bank
) in Isabela City and
the United Coconut Planters' Bank (UCPB
) in Lamitan. Government
Banks include the Land Bank of the Philippines (Landbank
) and the Development Bank of the
). It hosts at least
27 distinct Pawnshop operations, each of whom has an average 3
branches, mostly located in Isabela City, Lamitan, and Maluso
The Province is likewise serviced by satellite offices of vital
Government Financing Institutions such as the Social Security
Government Service Insurance System (GSIS
The Basilan business sector is represented by the Philippine
Chamber of Commerce & Industry, Inc.
(PCCI-Basilan), organized in 1975, the only business support
organization duly affiliated with the Philippine
Chamber of Commerce & Industry, Inc.
), with 95% of its members being composed of Small
and Medium Enteprises (SMEs), and offices mostly in Isabela City
and Lamitan, but with business assets and operations ranging
throughout the island. A number of smaller business groups have
since been established catering to the needs of businessmen from
specific ethnic or religious affiliations, i.e. Filipino-Chinese
Chamber of Commerce & Industry, Inc. - Basilan Chapter (FilChi
- Basilan); Autonomous Basilan Islamic Chamber of Commerce &
Utilities, Infrastructure & Health
Alano Memorial Hospital, Inc.
(former Basilan Hospital), the first private Hospital in
Basilan, opened in 1953.
NAPOCOR Diesel Power Plant barge
119 docked at Tabuk, Isabela City
ISAWAD mini-filtration plant located
Basilan's electricity needs are served by the Basilan Electric
Cooperative (BASELCO), powered by three diesel-powered electricity
generating plants located at Brgy. Binuangan, Isabela City, one
diesel-powered barge located at Brgy. Tabuk, Isabela City, and a
mini-hydroelectric plant located in Kumalarang, Isabela City.
Although 225 Barangays are energized, only about 38% of these
Barangays are sufficiently powered, most of these are located in
the Cities of Isabela and Lamitan, and Maluso Municipality. Rates
are currently pegged at US$0.824/kwH, one of the highest throughout
Basilan is likewise served by three local water utilities namely:
Isabela City Water District (ISAWAD), Lamitan City Water District
(LAMWAD), and Maluso Water District (MAWAD). Only 17,693
households, however, have full access to safe and potable water.
Current rates are pegged at an average US$3.20/month (+US$0.0826/10
The island is likewise served by the Provincial Telephone System
(PTS) which has 600 land-line connections and connected with
National Direct Dial (NDD) via PLDT
. It is
likewise served by major Mobile Telecommunications carriers
. It has 2 Wi-Fi Internet Service
Providers, and numerous Internet Cafes.
National Roads (concrete, asphalt, gravel) total 131.92 km,
while there are 795.8 km of Local Roads. There are 13
municipal and local ports, 3 of which have roll on-roll off
capacity, and at least 10 private airstrips servicing small
aircraft. Among the major bridges are the Marcos Bridge of Isabela
City and the recently inaugurated Matarling Bridge (built through
USAID funding) between Isabela City and Lantawan.
There are 394 Barangay Health Workers, 6,966 immunized children,
and 7 hospitals. There are 4 private hospitals, namely: the
(formerly Basilan Hospital), Infante Hospital
, Basilan Community Hospital
Isabela City, and the Dr.
Jose Ma. Torres
in Lamitan City. This is augmented by 3 government-run
hospitals, namely: Basilan
, both located in Isabela City, and the Lamitan District Hospital
There are various attractions in the island of Basilan. There are
architectural landmarks such as the Santa Isabel Cathedral, the
Calvario Peak on which the Chapel of Peace stands and the Kaum
Purnah Mosque. Natural attractions can also be seen such as the
lake in the Panigayan fishing village, Sumagdang Beach and the
waterfalls of the Kumalarang River. Various cultures can be visited
such as the Badjao
, the Yakan
and the Muslim communities.
Alano White Beach Resort, Malamawi
Island, Isabela City, Basilan
- Kumalarang River – It boasts of its 14-meter high waterfall, a
proposed site for a hydroelectric plant.
- Tabiawan and Busay Waterfalls – Found in Isabela, a good site
for picnics and bathing.
- Balagtasan Waterfalls – The biggest waterfall on the island
where the Basilan mini-hydro power plant is situated.
- Sumagdang Beach – A natural resort for swimming. They have
coconut plantations, mini rice fields and fishponds. It is 4
kilometers away from Isabela town proper and accessible by bus,
jeepney or tricycle.
- Malamawi Island – The main natural attraction of Basilan. Here,
a lighthouse guides ships and vintas to the channel. Here can also
be found the traditional final resting places of the nomad
sea-faring Badjaos and Samal-Luans-Banguingui. It also boasts of
the only lake in the province with wild ducks. Also found in
Malamawi is the Panigayan fishing village where spearfishing is
recommended and the Alano Estates' Bird Sanctuary atop Mts. San
Juan and Comunal.
- Alano White Beach Resort - also found on Malamawi Island, with
powdery white sands, day-cottages, and other amenities usually for
domestic tourists and local patrons, is widely touted as Basilan's
own Boracay minus all the commercial trimmings.
- Sunrise/Lanote Resort Row - still undergoing extensive
infrastructure upgrades, this area will soon host what locals call
the "Resort Row" of Isabela City. Already home to at least 3 fully
functional inland resorts (The Farmland, EN4Es, and Biel Pool
Resort)...no less than four more are slated to open along the same
road in the next few months.
Bulingan Falls, Lamitan City,
- Bulingan Falls - a mere 15 minute ride from Lamitan town, will
bring you to the natural wonder that is Bulingan Falls, where one
can enjoy the magical waterfalls during day picnics with family or
"Churches and Religious Shrines"
- Chapel of Peace, Calvario Peak, Isabela City – An excellent
site for photo enthusiasts. Perched 400 meters above sea level and
15 minutes from the town proper.
- Santa Isabel Cathedral, Isabela City – An art deco cathedral
with a mosaic altar reminiscent of Roman-Byzantine cathedrals,
named in honor of the patron saint of Isabela.
- Monte Santo Shrine - located atop Mt. Ubit in Lamitan City, is
a pilgrimage site for devout Catholics who visit the shrine for the
traditional "13 Stations" during Holy Week.
- Kaum Purnah Mosque, Isabela City – An old and imposing mosque,
the sight of which greets visitors on board ferries as they sail
the channel into Isabela.
- Datu Kalun Shrine, Lamitan – Built as a tribute to a famous
Yakan leader, it is a triangular park located at the heart of
Lamitan City's bustling downtown.
- Museo ng Lamitan – Showcases the color and highlights of the
Lami-lamihan festival. It also serves as the information center for
the development of Lamitan City.
Basilan Provincial Capitol, former
site of Fort Isabella Segunda
- Basilan Provincial Capitol - site of Fort Isabela II, the
original Fort was bombed and destroyed towards the end of World War
II, having been used by the occupying Japanese forces as a
munitions dump. A newer Capitol Building was built on the spot
where the old Basilan City Hall stood after it was burned in the
early 1990s. The new building is a celebration of Muslim and
Christian influences which shaped modern-day Basilan, and still
occupies the highest point of the City proper.
- Isabela City Plaza (formerly Plaza Misericordia)/Plaza Rizal -
as with every traditional Filipino town, the twin plazas of the
City (formerly Plaza Misericordia) and Plaza Rizal, has remained at
the very center of Basilan's socio-political scene to this very
day. Political rallies, civic events, local programs, night-time
entertainment and religious pageants are still held in and around
the plaza...which also features an obelisk with the statue of Jose
Rizal, a public stage, and a relief map of Basilan island on Plaza
Rizal, and a fountain, skating rink, botanical garden and outdoor
cafes on the City Plaza.
"Fiestas and Festivals"
- Araw ng Basilan - celebrated every March 7 to commemorate the
Anniversary of the Province of Basilan.
- Lami-Lamihan Festival - the island's premier festival, is
celebrated during the Feast of St. Peter (Fiesta San Pedro) on June
29 in Lamitan City. The Festival is highlighted by the
participation of the Yakans who attend the festivities in full
regalia, selling wares and produce brought in from their farms in
Lami-Lamihan Festival, Lamitan,
- Cocowayan Festival - Isabela City's annual commemoration of its
Cityhood, is a week-long series of activities culminating in the
annual Street Dancing parade on April 25.
- Fiesta Santa Isabel - celebrated every
July 8 by the residents of Isabela City, in honor of its Patroness
Saint Elizabeth of Portugal (Span. Sta. Isabel de Portugal), the
focal point of the Fiesta celebrations happen around the Sta.
Isabel Cathedral located at the center of Isabela's poblacion. This
is highlighted by a Procession and Novena Masses, the traditional
Bella Isabela Beauty Pageant, marathon, regatta and other
activities organized primarily by the Diocese of Basilan and the
Prelature of Isabela and its lay organizations the Catholic Women's
League (CWL) and Knights of Columbus (KofC).
- Semana Santa (Holy Week) - March/April
(movable) A city procession known as the Santo Entierro (Holy
Funeral) on Good Friday highlights the observance of the season of
Lent. Celebrated in most parish churches in the city and in the
Metropolitan Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, the Santo
Entierro is a procession of Christ's images, many of the Stations
of the Cross, along the city's main streets, depicting his last
hours before, during, and after the Crucifixion.
- Flores de Mayo - May 1 - 31 A
religious feast celebrated in all Catholic churches in honor of the
Virgin Mary. Little children in white gala dresses walk up the
altar to offer flowers to the image of the Blessed Mother, as the
Catholics call her.
Farmland Resort, Lanote, Isabela City,
- Fonda de Barangay or Fiestas del Barangay - Week-long
celebration in the Barangay/Barrios honoring their patron saints.
The celebration usually starts with novena masses held every day
for 9 straight days prior the feast day of the patron saint. every
night, the barrio is lit up for celebration and merry-making that
includes pageants, trade fair, parade, cock-fighting, carnival,
musical competition and "baile."
- Pascua (Christmas) - December 25
Celebration of Jesus Christ's Birth. City hall, churches, schools,
streetlight post, houses, streets, commercial places, parks and
most of the other places in the City are covered with lights,
filled with joyous sounds and other Christmas Decorations.
- Isra Wal Miraj - May 9 An Islamic
event celebrating the nocturnal journey and ascension of
- Eid al-Fitr/Hari Raya Puasa -
(movable) An Islamic event commemorating the end of the Muslim
- Maulidin-Nabi - December 27 An
Islamic celebration honoring the birthday of Muhammad.
- Chinese New Year - celebrated
every February (movable) mostly for the raucous noise-making,
tikoy-eating marathons, and the much-anticipated distribution of
"ampaw" by rich Chinese godparents.
Basilan's strange politics has been dictated by its economics.
only 25% of the island's residents originate from Christian tribes
in the Visayas and Luzon, this group
owns 70% of the island's arable agricultural land (private
ownership or cooperatives as farmer beneficiaries).
Yakan tribe comprising 45% of the island's population has full
control of local governments outside of Isabela and Lamitan cities.
The Tausugs, Samals and Bajaus, forming 30% of the population,
control nearly 90% of the island's rich aquatic harvest, while the
minuscule Chinese segment of the population controls nearly 100% of
all commodity trading and commerce activities, especially in the
This volatile mix of different ethnic and religious groups have
defined political realignments in the island for most of its
history. The Christian tribes, traditionally allied with the
Tausugs, controlled Basilan politics until the 1980s, when the
Yakans, aided by their almost absolute control of the hinterlands
and the disappearance of the multi-national plantations, scored
upset victories in electoral contests starting in 1988.
Of late, a strengthening Yakan-Tausug alliance, brought about by
the arrival of the Tableegh
Islamic preachers schooled by extremist Middle-Eastern clerics in
Syria, Afghanistan and Egypt, has forged a more or less solid
Muslim front which has succeeded in thwarting Christian economic
and political interests on the island.
Present-day Isabela City Plaza
(formerly Plaza Misericordia; note the Rizal monument and Plaza
Rizal in the background)
This political combine has since seen some in-fighting from two of
the most formidable power blocks to have formed since the 2004
general elections. Both blocks went head-to-head in the 2007 local
The Akbar block (Liberal
- Atienza Wing), led by the late Wahab Akbar, 3-term
Governor and alleged Abu Sayyaf co-founder, together with his
wives, and his nephews and nieces, all of whom have been rewarded
with a mayoralty post in all the Municipalities as well as the
biggest electoral prize - Isabela City, which is under his second
wife Cherrylyn Santos-Akbar. His first wife is currently the
Governor of Basilan, Jum Jainuddin-Akbar. Wahab Akbar himself, was
Salapuddin Block (Lakas-CMD/Kampi), led by
Abdulgani 'Gerry' Salapuddin, 3-term Governor, 3-term Congressman
and 2-term Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, with his
allies Hajiman Salliman Hataman of Sumisip and his brother,
Anak Mindanao (AMIN) Party-list
Representative Mujiv Hataman, along with a mix of Tausug and
To them, the 2007 elections proved to be
a debacle as they lost in nearly all fronts, save for Lamitan
Both political coalitions are allied with the Administration of
In November 13, 2007, a few months after having been elected
Congressman, Wahab Akbar himself was killed by a bomb blast that
exploded as he was about to leave the Philippine's Congress
Building in Quezon City. Allegations behind the apparent
assassination were leveled at Salapuddin and Hataman.
Basilan Political Map (as of
- GOVERNOR JUM J. AKBAR (1st Term, elected May 2007)
Governor: Jum Jainuddin-Akbar
Vice Governor: Al-Rasheed Sakkalahul
Provincial Board Members:
1ST DISTRICT BOARD MEMBERS
1. Yusop Alano
2. Candu Muarip
3. Placido Jilhani
4. Miskuddin Tupay
2ND DISTRICT BOARD MEMBERS
5. Ronnie Hantian
6. Tahajid Latip
7. Munap Pacio
8. Nasser Salain
9. Reybert Santos. ABC
10. Aley Ahmad Fernandez, SK
11. Edwin Iklaman, PCL
Current realignments in local politics is reshaping Basilan's
political landscape once again. In preparation for the coming 2010
Synchronized National and Local Elections, several political
personalities have already manifested their intentions to run for
certain positions. Increasingly, the various political colors are
moving towards three major factions: the Akbar
, still formidable, albeit splintered and severely
weakened from within after the assassination of clan patriarch,
Rep. Wahab Akbar
; the Hataman
, still a force to be reckoned with province-wide,
although recent news have hinted at an estrangement between the
Hatamans and erstwhile ally (as well as staunch Akbar foe) former
Deputy Speaker and 3-time former Governor Abdulgani Salapuddin, who
has not announced any political plans to date; and a third
composed mostly of Christian and Tausug politicians,
increasingly seen as representing the vital swing-voters in the
coming elections. It remains to be seen as to which National
Political Party each of the three factions will eventually
affiliate with, however.
Slain Congressman Wahab Akbar's 1st
wife Jum Jainuddin-Akbar casting her vote during the May 2007
She eventually won as Provincial Governor defeating Former
Deputy Speaker Gerry Salapuddin.
For the Gubernatorial post, three names have already surfaced,
namely: incumbent Governor Hja. Jum Jainuddin-Akbar; Ungkaya Pukan
Mayor and former Akbar ally Joel T.Maturan; and erstwhile Akbar
nemesis Rep. Mujiv Hataman of the Party-list Anak Mindanao
Lone Congressional District of Basilan will be contested by
familiar names as well: Hajiman Salliman Hataman, who was defeated
by Wahab Akbar himself in 2007; Maluso Mayor Sakib Salajin, nephew
of the slain Wahab Akbar; and, Lantawan Mayor and Wahab Akbar's
niece Tahira Ismael-Sansawi.
Other local mayors, notably Cherrylyn Santos-Akbar of Isabela City
and Roderick Furigay of Lamitan are eyeing the same post. Although,
whereas Furigay is said to be a shoo-in for Lamitan in 2010,
Isabela City's mayoralty post, is expected to be hotly contested
with at least 4 other major candidates vying for the same plum
position. The names of Alan Ritchie B. Biel, son of assassinated
Mayor Luis R. Biel II; City Council opposition stalwart Arnulfo
Dans of the Liberal Party
brother of former Governor, Congressman and LP-NECO Member Alvin
Dans; businessmen Edwin Pantaleta of the Nacionalista Party
(NP) and Muctar
Muarip, son of former Congressman Candu Muarip, are expected to
throw their hats into the political arena for Isabela City's top
post. Of late, Panther Ajibon, Barangay
Chairman of Tabuk, has likewise announced his plans to run for the
top City post.
Locally, the advent of election season has once again witnessed a
spike in criminality, most noticeably the rise in kidnapping
incidents, assassinations and ambuscades. Specifically, on January
29, 2009 at 5:00pm, Al Barka Mayor Karam Jakilan was felled in an
ambush, together with two of his personal bodyguards. Earlier, a
slew of assassinations from both the Akbar and Hataman camps, most
prominently, an Akbar henchman and two Hataman cousins, has
commenced early in 2008. Also, the spate of kidnap-for-ransom
activities have been widely observed to peak as election season
In the last five Presidential Elections, Basilan has voted for
Ferdinand Edralin Marcos (1969), Corazon Cojuangco Aquino (1986),
Fidel Valdez Ramos (1992), Joseph Ejercito Estrada (1998), and
Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo (2004), all of whom won in their respective
bids. Similarly, Basilan's Vice Presidential choices, namely:
Fernando Lopez (1965), Salvador Laurel (1986), Joseph Ejercito
Estrada (1992), Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo (1998) and Noli De Castro
(2004), also won in all election contests, making it one of the
most accurate bellwether
Philippine politics today. Sen. Manuel Roxas III was Basilan's
Senate top-notcher in 2004, while Sen. Loren Legarda was number one
Basilan has figured prominently in a number of election-related
issues, foremost of which is its inclusion as among the Provinces
(together with Cebu and the rest of the ARMM Provinces) where,
allegedly, current Philippine President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo
instituted wholesale election fraud to win the 2004 Presidential
Elections. The ensuing imboglio, dubbed the "Hello Garci
" Scandal, included several mentions
of Basilan and its late Governor Wahab Akbar, in taped
conversations purportedly between President Arroyo and COMELEC
Commissioner Virgilio Garcillano
Local elections have been widely fraught with massive cheating,
vote buying and fraud as well. Albeit, blame could not be reserved
to one group or political block alone as this has been observed to
be "common practice" across the political spectrum. Hopes for a
much improved and effective delivery of the vote is expected in the
next scheduled elections (May 2010), as the COMELEC is set to fully
automate the vote counting and canvass, as stipulated by law.
Local government units
Basilan Population Centers
Basilan is subdivided into twelve municipalities
and one city
Isabela City, (pop. 87, 985) located on the northern shore of
Basilan Island facing Zamboanga City, is a component city and capital of the
Isabela City votes for provincial officials,
shares its tax revenues with the province, and continues to be
under the jurisdiction of Basilan for the administration of
provincially-devolved services and functions. But for the
administration of regional services, the city is part of the
Peninsula Region despite the rest of Basilan being under the
in Muslim Mindanao.
Basilan used to be part of Western
Mindanao (the former name of Zamboanga Peninsula), but in a recent
plebiscite the residents of some parts of Basilan opted to join
ARMM, with the exception of Isabela City (and Lamitan). Called
Pasangen (the rough English translation of which is "town") by
natives, it hosts the Basilan Provincial Capitol and much of the
Municipal Offices of its neighboring municipalities.
82,075) likewise became a City in
2007, although it remains within the ARMM. It is located on the
northeastern coast of Basilan, where most of Basilan's plains are
situated. The only remaining opposition stronghold against the
Akbar dynasty, Lamitan is experiencing a renewed economic vigor
that continues to power the rest of the province's otherwise
lackluster growth. A November 18, 2008 decision of the Supreme
Court, however, effectively voided the law converting Lamitan to a
City after the League of Cities of the Philippines filed a petition
earlier in the year. Lamitan has since been reverted to
Municipality status pending a motion for reconsideration filed by
the affected Municipalities.
five (5) original Municipalities are: Maluso
(pop. 48,175), located on the island's southwest,
this area is facing the bigger island of Sulu and Tawi-Tawi further
south, its busiest trading port is located at Port Holland and
Maluso Townsite; Lantawan (pop. 28,978) is located on the island's
westernmost area, and is mostly an agricultural area for copra and
rubber production, its biggest population concentration is located
at Tairan, and has no major port; Sumisip (pop.
58,423) is the biggest municipality in
terms of land area, and hosts what used to be the biggest rubber
plantation (Sime Darby) in the Philippines; Tuburan
(pop. 26,498) is located on a peninsula on the
extreme eastern part of the island, one of the least developed
municipalities and severely devastated by the decades-old armed
conflicts plaguing the island; Tipo-Tipo (pop.
26,548), the last among the original
municipalities created by Presidential Decree, courtesy of
President Ferdinand Marcos, is located on the island's southeast
coast, also mostly undeveloped and witness to much of the running
gun-battles on the island.
The latest six (6) municipalities
are creations of the regional
legislature of the ARMM, to wit: Akbar
separated from Tuburan municipality, named after a political
strongman, the late Congressman Wahab Akbar; Hadji
Mohammad Ajul (pop. 26,132), also from Tuburan, named after the
first mayor of Tuburan; and, Al-Barka (pop.
26,229) and Ungkaya Pukan (pop.
30,472) municipalities which were separated from Tipo-Tipo, the
latter having been named after the grandfather of its present
2008, the municipalities of Hadji Muhtamad (pop.
20,292), named after the father of
late Cong. Wahab Akbar and separated from Lantawan, and Tabuan-Lasa
(pop. 13,384), separated from
Sumisip, were similarly created.
All six (6) new municipalities were created without the consent of
the Philippine Congress, and according to some accounts, said
municipalities do not reach the basic requirements for the creation
of a separate Municipality (i.e.: 50 km². area; P2.5 million
income; 25,000 population) under the Philippines' Local Government
Code. (Ref. Recent Supreme Court rulings nullified the
creation of Shariff
Kabunsuan Province, created by the same ARMM Regional
Assembly, reverting it to the 1st District of Maguindanao Province;
Lamitan City has likewise since been reverted to
||Roderick H. Furigay
||Haber A. Asarul
||Sakib A. Salajin, Al Hadj
||Joel T. Maturan
||Ingatul Lukman J. Istarul, Al Hadj
||Durie S. Kallahal
||Karam S. Jakilan (deceased Jan. 29, 2009)
|Hadji Mohammad Ajul
||Talib G. Pawaki
||Alih A. Salih
||Anwar S. Abdulmajid
||Muctar Junaid, Al Hadj
- Administratively part of Zamboanga
Noted Basilan people
History and politics
- Lakan Ipentun - first recorded
Yakan Chieftain of Kumalarang, visited Chinese Emperor Yung Lo, and
proclaimed a vassal King ("wang") of the Chinese Empire.
- Datu Bantilan — Tausug chieftain,
former Sultan of Sulu, established a Tausug kingdom (Maluso) on the
- Datu Kalun — Cavite
native who married a Yakan princess and subjugated Lamitan.
- Juan S. Alano — Bulacan native, Commonwealth
Assemblyman of the Moro Province of Mindanao (1936-1946), first
Congressman of the Province of Zamboanga (1946-1949), authored the
Charters of the Cities of Zamboanga and Basilan, became the Grand
Master of the Freemasons in the Philippines in 1961.
- Nicasio S. Valderroza — Bulacan native, first
Mayor of Basilan City (1948-53), also among the first Mayors of
Zamboanga (1937-1939), Baguio (1939-1944), and Davao (1944-48)
- Lenora Alano-Rivera -
daughter of Juan S. Alano, co-founder of the Girl Scouts of the
Philippines, established the first Girl Scout Chapter in
- Leroy S. Brown — The longest-serving Mayor of Basilan
City (1954-1975), presided over the rise of Basilan City into
first-class status during his term, and was a member of the 7-man
junta which governed the Philippines' Nacionalista Party.
- Regino C. Hermosisima, Jr. — Supreme Court
Justice, presided over the Aquino-Galman double murder case as a
Judge at the Manila RTC. Chairman Emeritus of the Philippine Young
Men's Christian Association (YMCA).
- Ulbert Ulama Tugung — Tausug
leader, eventually became the first Regional Governor of the
defunct Lupong Tagapagpaganap ng Pook (LTP), special administrative
arm for the Muslim provinces.
- Asan Camlian — The first Muslim
Governor of Basilan, appointed by President Ferdinand Marcos, and
subsequently won his seat under Marcos's KBL.
- Louis Walton Alano — OIC
Governor of Basilan during the Revolutionary Government of
President Corazon C. Aquino (1986-1988), currently the Deputy
Governor for Christian Affairs of the Autonomous Region in Muslim
- Alvin G. Dans — Variously a Provincial Governor,
Congressman, Undersecretary of the DILG, and Philippine Postmaster
- Candu I. Muarip — First Yakan politician to be
elected to high office, he was appointed Cabinet Secretary for a month during the
short-lived Revolutionary Government of Corazon Aquino; he has
since been elected Congressman twice, and is a Provincial Board
- Perfecto "Toto" Antonio, Jr. -
Provincial Board Member, a descendant of Datu Kalun, a National
Board Director for the Family Planning Organization of the
Philippines for several years, last Christian to be elected to a
Provincial office (2004).
- Gerry A. Salapuddin — Former MNLF Commander,
schooled in Sorbonne
University in Paris, France, became three-term Governor, then
three-term Congressman, in the last two of which terms he was
elected Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives.
- Wahab M. Akbar — Former political kingpin and dynast,
three-term Governor, elected Congressman in 2007, killed by a bomb
blast at the entrance, southwing of the House of Representatives in
- Luis R. Biel II - first City Mayor of Isabela,
nursed the new City through its first few years, established the
Cocowayan Festival in 2002, assassinated by a lone gunman at City
Hall on March 3, 2006.
- Antonio Francisco Cartagena -
first Filipino-American Mayor of Walnut City, Metropolitan Los Angeles, San Gabriel
Valley, California, USA.
Barinaga - Long-term Mayor of Dipolog City and three-term Congressman of the 2nd District of
Zamboanga del Norte, of Cebuano parentage, a graduate of Basilan
City High School, class of 1955.
- Romeo Jalosjos - 3-term
Congressman of the first District of Zamboanga del Norte, born in
Jalosjos — Mayor of Dapitan City, Zamboanga del Norte, born in Latuan, Isabela
Jalosjos-Carreon — Congresswoman of the first District of
Zamboanga del Norte, born in Latuan, Isabela City.
- Cesar Jalosjos — Congressman of
the third District of Zamboanga del Norte, born in Latuan, Isabela
- Theresa M. Alano — Assistant Secretary of the
Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD).
- Athena Dans — Commissioner, Bureau
of Customs (BOC).
- Roberto Reynera — Chief,
Presidential Anti-Smuggling Group (PASG).
Official Website: http://www.basilan.gov.ph
- Philippine Department of Tourism
- "All-weather road to unlock Basilan's potential, The Gem
Program. April 2, 2007.
- Philippine House of Representatives Congressional Library