A Trip to the Southernmost Province in Philippines

Bongao Island, Tawi-tawi Group of Islands

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I and one technical field engineer of PC Clinic 911, Merham P. Labad were sent by our company to conduct an initial interview regarding a proposal for an automated system in one of the companies in the island of Bongao, Tawi-tawi group of islands.

Bongao is one of the islands of the Tawi-tawi province and is famous for its “Bongao Peak” with monkeys in it.

Bongao

Before having arrived in the island, we have seen the vast beauty of nature around it. The mountains with fogs on their peaks were perfect views! It was like paradise there.

Aside from the beauty the island holds, there is one thing that will never make me forget the island: its people, the Sama tribe.

Of all the Muslims tribes I have known and mingled with, the Sama tribe is the friendliest — it actually changed my view on what Muslims really are! The Sama tribe are peace loving people, humble and most of all hospitable. They abhor violence (in truth, they really abhor violence) and make peace immediately with anyone who had misunderstanding with them.

The Sama tribe hates laziness, thus work hard for their family and sometimes for their community. They are distributed to all the islands of Tawi-Tawi province and in some parts of the islands of Southern Sulu provinces. They are commonly known as seafarers.

There were two Samas who I came to know and befriended personally. One of whom was Sitti Hajal M. Malandi, a Home Economics and Technology teacher of a secondary school in Sapa Tandu Island, Tawi-tawi. She was very conversant in English and a devout Islam follower. She speaks mildly and gave short giggles when she tries to laugh out loud in some topics that we were discussing about. She occasionally goes Zamboanga City to visit her relatives and her only daughter (a mid-wife student at MEIN College). Her husband is in Sandakan and is working there. She said that true Islam is not violence but peace. Islam hates violence, she said. According to her, if only Muslims really follow in their hearts the teachings of Qur’An, there will never be violence in places where Muslims live. However, she said that some people profess that they are Muslims but they don’t really put in their hearts the teachings of Prophet Muhammad S.A.W. The same was also said by a principal in Simunul Island. I just forgot to get her name. They actually said same things about some views in life and in their religion. They are really mild when they talk. They are concern too about you even if you are not a Muslim. One will never see any racial discrimination from them. I will never forget the two Samas, both of them educators, and very good English speakers. They were as if my mothers during my stay in the yacht. They comforted me during the voyage. Soft-spoken. I just wish all Muslims are like that, as it should be. Muslims in the Philippines should follow the two Samas. They are good models of what Muslims are: PEACE LOVING, NOT VIOLENT and most of all, NO RACIAL DISCRIMINATION.

I thank them personally for I see in them the true good Muslims. I have never seen such friendly Muslim tribe in the Philippines. I just hope that Samas increase their population and one day be the major models of Muslims in the Philippines.

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