Tawi-Tawi is an island
province of the
Philippines located in the Autonomous Region in Muslim
Mindanao (ARMM). The capital of Tawi-Tawi is Bongao.
province is the southernmost of the country sharing sea borders
with the Malaysian State of Sabah and the Indonesian Kalimantan
province. To the northeast lies the province of
Sulu and to the west is Sabah in Malaysia.
also covers some islands in the Sulu Sea to the
northwest, the Cagayan de
Tawi-Tawi Island and the
Islands, just 20 kilometers away from Sabah.
Most of the people in Tawi-Tawi belong to the Sama
cultural group. Within this group are subgroups
and named based on the location of the speaker. Sama Sibutu are
those from the Sibutu-Sitangkai Island Group, Sama Simunul are
those from Simunul-Manuk Mangkaw Island Group, and so on.
The Jama Mapun are largely found in the Cagayan Mapun and Turtle
Island Group. Many of the people from the Turtle Islands
and Cagayan Mapun
maintain daily commerce with
Sabah, since it is only 14 kilometers away.
The Badjao (also called "Sama Dilaut") are widely dispersed across
the province. Though their population is diminishing due to
diseases and migration to other areas in the Philippines, Malaysia
The Tausog or Tau Sug
, Orang Suluk
or Aa Suk are migrants from the Sulu
Province and came to Tawi-Tawi in search of better livelihood
opportunities or run away from the seemingly undending conflict and
violence in Sulu.
The prevailing language is the indigenous Bahasa Sama which is
widely used in varied tones and accents. This variety led to the
development of Sinama dialects. The major ones are Sinama Sibutu
(spoken mainly in the Sibutu-Sitangkai Region), Sinama Simunul
(concentrated in Simunul-Manuk-Mangkaw Islands), Sinama Kapoan
(spoken in the South Ubian-Tandubas and Sapa-Sapa Regions) and
Sinama Banguingui (concentrated in Buan Island and spoken by
language is also
spoken, as are English
). Many local locals and barter
traders can speak Malay
Agriculture, fishing, and agar-agar farming are the leading source
of livelihood of the people of Tawi-Tawi, with quite a number
engaged in the barter trade business. Copra is the top agricultural
produce, followed by root crops, fruits, and vegetables.
Airport, the main airport of the province, is located in
the municipality of Bongao.
Tawi-Tawi is subdivided into 11 municipalities
the municipalities are located on the islands in the Sulu
Archipelago. Two of them, Mapun, and
Islands lie in the Sulu Sea.
- Bongao - Is the microcosm of religious and cultural
- Languyan - was created by then President Marcos for rebel
leader Hadjiril Matba who decided to join the government fold in
- Mapun (Cagayan De
- Panglima Sugala used to be known as Balimbing. However,
after the EDSA Revolution, the word "balimbing" got a rather
derogatory definition as a turncoat.
- Sibutu - is home to descendants of Malay royalty in Borneo
and not necessarily associated with the Sulu royalty.
- Simunul - Site of Oldest Mosque in the Philippines and home
of the revered Sheikh Makdum one of the early pioneers in the
spread of the Islamic religion in the country.
- Sitangkai - "Venice of the South"
- South Ubian
- Turtle Islands
The municipalities are further subdivided
into 203 barangays
Tawi-Tawi lies at the southwestern tip of the country. Irregular in
shape, with splashes of white sandy beaches and rock-bound coasts,
the province has 107 islands and islets with a combined land area
of 1197 km² (462 square miles).
The province has two seasons: dry and wet The climate is generally
moderate. The wettest months are from August to November. The other
months of the year are generally dry with occasional rain
was previously part of the province of Sulu.
pursuant to Presidential Decree No. 302, the new province of
Tawi-Tawi was officially created, separate from Sulu. The seat of the
provincial government was established in Bongao.
The name of Tawi-Tawi is a projection of the Malay word "jaui"
meaning "far." Prehistoric travelers from the Asian mainland would
repeat the word as "jaui-jaui" to mean "far away" because of the
distance of the islands from the continent of Asia. The word
"Tawi-Tawi" was picked up to later become the official name of the