Saturday, August 18, 2007

Mt. Bongao (314+)

Mt. Bongao
Bongao, Tawi-Tawi
Major jump-off: Pasiagan Village, Bongao
LLA: 5.01361°N 119.7422°E, 314 MASL
Days required / Hours to summit: Half-day / 2 hours
Specs: Minor climb, Difficulty 2/9, Trail class 2

BACKGROUND
The southermost mountain in the Philippines is Bud (Mount) Bongao, a sacred site for the Muslims, and a landmark for the seafarers of Sulu Sea. As you approach it from the Jolo ferry, it is shaped like a plateau, reminiscent of South Africa's Table Mountain. Dramatically it surges up from the sea, making it imposing even though its elevation is only 422 MASL.

The trek is a profound experience.You will have to wear 'sawal' or a cloth you wrap around your neck, as a sign of respect for the culture.You will also have to bring bananas to feed the expectant monkeys. Indeed the moment they detect your presence, they will congregate around you. As they approach, the rumbling of the trees would make it seem as if there's an earthquake. Though shy at first, they'll be more aggressive afterwards, even fighting for your attention. Indeed the monkeys are among the prime attractions of Bud Bongao

As you reach the peak, you will smell the scent of rangutay trees. The trunk of this fragrant species was highly valued in the imperial courts of China and Japan. Back to the trail, you will see a tomb at the top: this is a tomb of a Muslim saint and his family; treat the site with respect. According to another account, the entombed body is that of Anjaotals, who belonged to an ancient Muslim royal family. This shrine is said to have healing powers.

Ten minutes away there's a nice view deck,with the view of Sanga-Sanga island and the airport (NNE) and the islands of Sibutu (WSW) and Simunul (SSE). ; on a clear day you will see even the faint outline of Malaysian Borneo (Sabah). Interestingly, Borneo is already west, not south, because Bongao is already on the same latitude as Malaysia. Other islands visible include

Its location, at the southermost tip of the Philippines, with a unique culture and picturesque seascapes, places Bud Bongao on the list of great hiking destinations in the country!

ITINERARY
0530 Take tricycle to jump-off from Bongao town proper
0600 ETA jump-off point. Register then start trek.
0830 ETA peak. Feed monkeys and take pictures
0900 ETA viewdeck; take snacks here
0930 start descent
1100 back at jump-off point; take trike back
1200 Lunch at Bongao; proceed to next destination

*Travel to Bongao from Zamboanga is via air (SEAIR) or sea (Weesam Liner)

SPECIAL CONCERNS
The reputation of Tawi-Tawi is blemished by the strife of Southern Mindanao, but is actually a very peaceful place. Aside from the cultural advisory, there are no special concerns for the climb. Don't forget to bring the bananas!

TRIVIA
Bud Bongao is the only mountain in the Philippines where foreign land (Malaysian Borneo) can be seen.

WEATHER OUTLOOK: BONGAO, TAWI-TAWI

9 comments:

Anonymous said...

I AGREE WITH THIS ARTICLE...BONGAO, TAWI - TAWI IS A VERY NICE AND LOVELY PLACE...ALTHOUGH PART OF MINDANAO, BONGAO IS A VERY PEACEFUL PLACE TO LIVE IN... IF YOU HAVE THE TIME AND MONEY VISIT THE PLACE FOR YOU TO WITNESS ITS BEAUTY..

abby said...

Hi. That was very informativem what you wrote here. I actually was having a hard time trying to picture what this mountain looks like until this picture here. Anyway, can you tell me more about the climb? What are the chances that halfway the climb, monkeys will be swarming around you for food already? And who's that holy man buried there? Muslims keep praying over the tomb without knowing who they're praying to? Anyway these are among my curiosities. I'm actually planning a trip there. Have you heard about the legend that touching the monkeys there brings bad luck? Do you anyonw there whom I could talk to regarding this legend? What are the unusual sights there? Hehe. Please email me at aakatigbak@up.edu.ph. I am very very very interested in hearing from you. Thanks so much!!

gideon said...

thanks for the comments on mt. bongao.

to abby: i personally experienced feeding the monkeys in bongao, and fortunately i have pictures as well. i'll recheck my recollection with my professor in history and asian studies about the muslim saint, among other things. will email you more info as soon as i have time this week, and will share pictures as well.

flare said...

il be there soon... bleehh!

Anonymous said...

yes it's true to see the kindness and purity of bongao. by means of places, sands,beaches and the peace loving people you can admire it. thank you for apprecieting this place and for the photos.

Anonymous said...

i'm planning to climb and visit this place alone... but a lot of my friends are telling me that it is not a safe place to visit. is it really true?

jp

Anonymous said...

Bud Bongao is a safe place to be, I'm a local of this place and studying as 2nd year high school student at Science High School, Bongao,Tawi-Tawi.

Anonymous said...

Hi, this is Paramisuli Sevilla Aming, the SHS 2nd year schooler. As a resident of Bongao, I am proud of having these scenic spots here and I would just like to add that you can also find Boloboc,a beautiful and exotic cave,here in Bongao. It is just so sad that other visitors come here not for the gorgeous destinations, instead they come to make use of our natural resources. So please, help us protect our own place.

julia maxwell said...

I like your post ,now I must complete my research for my paper.


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