Mindanao is surely a place full of wonders, but who would have thought that in the southernmost part there lies an unknown wonder? Tawi-Tawi may be very far, but its iconic peak, the Bud Bongao is definitely a must see.
Standing at approximately 315 meters or 1030 feet above sea level, Bud Bongao is Tawi-Tawi’s highest peak. Most who have trekked here have said that the path is relatively easy, with an average of one and a half hour to trek. Take note that monkeys are a very normal scene in Bud Bongao, especially along the trail.
Bud Bongao is located in the provincial capital and its proximity to the Sanga-sanga Airport makes it a very popular tourist destination in the area. Covered in lush vegetation, the mountain of Bud Bongao coincidentally a home too of various wild animals sch as the Philippine long-tailed macaques.
Once you’ve reached the peak, a panoramic view of the sea and landmass around Bongao Island awaits, where other islands like Sanga-Sanga, Simunul, Laa, Bilantan and Sibutu among others can be seen too. Moreover, quick stops are available where trees with customized signs attached are available to see for tourists. The trail is already paved, making it much easier to trek.
It is advised to hire local guides when trekking Bud Bongao. As of this writing, there is no standard guide fee or whatsoever, so trekkers are advised to be generous enough considering that it may be means of livelihood for the locals.
The locals of this island consider the mountain as a sacred burial site for Muslims, where it is also popular as a place of worship. One interesting thing is that locals tie cellophanes or plastic bags to trees as means of making their prayers and wishes come true.
Electricity interruption is prevalent in the province, so tourists are advised to keep powerbanks handy.
TIPS AND REMINDERS:
- Best time to hike the peak is before sunrise.
- Trekkers are advised to wear comfortable clothes and footwear upon trekking.
- Bring enough water/drinks.
- Monkeys will try to approach you along the trek, but to be safe, ask the local guides if its okay to feed them. If so, try to bring extra food, preferably fruits.
- Tourists are not encouraged to litter.
- Entrance fee: No fees required in going to the peak of Bud Bongao.
- For accommodation: (+639206109477/+639359790413)
- Rachel’s Place: ((68) 268-1248)
- Sandbar Beach Lepa and Restaurant: (068) 268 1018
HOW TO GET THERE:
Exact Location: Bongao Island, Tawi-Tawi Province
Being located in the southernmost part of Mindanao, taking a plane to Bud Bongao is a very good choice. First, starting from NAIA, you can book flights bound to Zamboanga City with estimated travel time of 1.5 hours. If you’re from Cebu or Davao, airlines like Cebu Pacific and Philippine Airlines also offer flights bound to Zamboanga City. The regular roundtrip offered by Cebu Pacific is ₱11,444.12 as of this writing.
Once in Zamboanga City, you need to ride another plane going to Tawi-Tawi Airport in Bongao, Tawi-Tawi. From the airport, you can rent tricycles within the area that can take you to the jump-off point (near Sandbar Beach Lepa), for ₱20 where travel time is around 20 minutes.
From Zamboanga City to Bongao, Tawi-Tawi, Alesson Shipping Lines have ferry trips scheduled only on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. The ferry trip is about 16 hours so be sure to bring some napping items like pillows and blankets.
Once you’re in the municipality of Bongao, motorcycle taxis or habal-habal are available and they can take you to Bud Bongao for a fee.