Center: Jolo Island (capital – Jolo,
est. 250,000+ population)
of Barangays: 16
area: 1,600.4 sq. km.
The Sulu Archipelago is the southernmost tip of The Philippines. It straddles
both marine-rich Sulu Sea to the North and Celebes Sea to the South, and Borneo to
history: Inhabiting the shores and
coast of the many islands which constitute the Sulu Archipelago, the people of
this Philippine province historically take to a seafaring way of life. Long
before Miguel Lopez de Legaspi of colonial Spain colonized Cebu in the early
1500s, foreign sea traders were already familiar with the busy waters of the
Sulu Archipelago. When Manila and Cebu were still building their humble
settlements, Jolo Island’s capital of Jolo was already a busy city,
being one of the most important trading center in the Philippines with growing
trade between its inhabitants and the Chinese merchants.
early population of the archipelago had been influenced by the introduction of
Islam toward the end of the fourteenth century by three historic men named
Makdum, Raja Baginda, and Abu Bakr.
Sultanate of the Sulu Archipelago began to rise as a system of government in
those days, with Raja Baginda being its first supreme ruler. Abu Bakr succeeded
him afterwards, firmly establishing Mohammedanism and effected governmental
presence of foreign forces in the Sulu islands brought about several conflicts
that caused the fall of the first organized state in early Philippines. For 300
years, beginning from the 16th century, the Suluans, as the people of the Sulu
Archipelago are called, fought all alien forces that had attempted to dominate
them and change their way of life.
first armed conflict staged by the Suluans was against the Spaniards, around
1578, when Captain Esteban Rodriguez de Figueroa conducted an expedition against
the Muslims. The "Moros," as the Spaniards liked to call them (relic
of the Moors’ 900-year conquest of Spain), retaliated by pillaging the coastal
towns in Visayas and Luzon under Spanish control.
Muslim hostility caused the Spanish government to send at least five military
expeditions to Jolo for punitive retaliation. The fourth expedition, led by
Governor-General Corcuera in 1638, resulted in the first Spanish occupation of
Jolo. The fighting, which lasted for three and a half months, forced the Suluans
to flee their capital. Corcurera occupied the town, reconstructed its forts, and
left a Spanish garrison behind. However, in 1646, this garrison was recalled to
Manila and Jolo was thereby abandoned.
the nineteenth century, the Spanish made a second occupation of Jolo. Spain
eventually evacuated Jolo and the Sulu Archipelago for good in May 1899, and
turned over the local government to the Suluans. Foreign domination of the
archipelago continued during World War II when the Japanese occupied the
Philippines. These short anecdotes of the area’s history have made the Sulu
Archipelago what it is today.
with more Suluans being educated by the government school system, the normal
reaction of fierce resistance to
anything foreign has given way to an attitude of understanding and compromise,
resulting in a mix of the old and new, a cornucopia of the east and west
peaceful coexistence has been immortalized in the province’s official emblem,
where the Cross-symbols of Christianity harmoniously blends in with the Crescent
& Star, symbolizing the Islamic faith.
The province consists of over 400 scattered, and almost isolated, islands,
stretching from the tip of Zamboanga Peninsula southwestward towards Borneo. It
forms one of the three southerly connections of the Philippines with Borneo.
Major Industries: The Sulu Archipelago is, surprisingly, a progressive province for income
standards. While there is an absence of natural mineral deposits, the area nevertheless
abounds with valuable timber resource. Lying
outside the typhoon belt, the archipelago is blessed with a year-round bounty of
harvests from the land and the surrounding seas.
to the character of soil and climate, the province of Sulu grows greater variety
of products than any other part of the country. In addition to all the crops of
the islands, which consist mostly of abaca, coconut, and fruits like oranges, lanzones,
and jacks, other fruits that do not grow in the northern islands of The
Philippines are harvested
here, such as the mangosteen and durian.
is the most important area industry. Trepang and pearls are extensively
harvested from the area’s rich waters. Sea turtles and fish of all kinds are
also caught. Unfortunately, most of the fishing industry has gone into the hands
of the Chinese and Japanese.
the Suluans take a break from their fishing activity, they engage in
boat-building and mat weaving. The people have learned how to produce beautiful
trays and combs out of turtle shells. Additionally,
technology has taught them to preserve the durian and mangosteen fruits.
Overall, the Sulu Archipelago has industries such as boat building, mat
weaving, coffee processing, and fruit preservation (durian and mangosteen).
The Sulu Archipelago is outside of the typhoon belt, and its climate is
mostly warm, moist humidity, but precipitation is constant throughout the year.
February is considered the coldest month, while May to August are the hottest
with a mean relative humidity of 86% (one of the hottest in the country), and
January to April is considered the dry period with a monthly average of 7 to 9
inches of rainfall. The mean annual temperature is 26 degrees centigrade, and
the maximum is 27 degrees centigrade.
/ Dialect: The principal dialect of
the natives of the Sulu Archipelago is Tausog, a Muslim dialect. The rest speak
Samal, Cebuano, Chavacano, Tagalog, and other Philippine dialects. English is
also widely spoken.
City – Jolo Island's walled city is
the smallest in the world. Here is located the historic brick walls of Jolo that
now crumble due to age, neglect, and decay. All around, there are evidence of Jolo´s
historic and continuous strife. At the entrance of the city are four ancient
which were once used as watchtowers, and several visible, yet symbolic,
mounds that represent public graves of fallen Spanish and American soldiers who died
from conflict against the fiercely independent Muslim warriors.
Capitol – It was constructed during the
administration of Governor Murphy Sangkula. This is also considered one of
Jolo´s main tourist attractions because of its beautiful Moorish-inspired architectural
Asturias - Located .85 km away from
the town center of Jolo.
Calvary Monument - It is by far the
only existing museum of its kind in the Sulu Archipelago. It is located a little
more than 1 km. from the central town of Jolo.
Beach - It boasts of at least 1 km of
powder-white sand, and is frequented by the local citizenry due to its public accessibility.
Beach - Located just 2 kms. away from
the Jolo town center, it is also a beautiful white sand beach.
Beach - Another white sandy beach just
3 kms. away from the Jolo town proper.
Parish Church; Sacred Heart of Jesus Chapel; Jolo Evangelical Church; Tulay
Mosque; and other prevailing mosques
situated in each barangay.
Jolo Town Fiesta
Puasa - A religious Muslim holiday.
Hadji - A religious Muslim holiday.
Jaded - A religious Muslim holiday.
Special Tourist Interest:
Farm at Marungas Island - It can be
reached by a 30-minute pump boat (motorized outrigger canoe) ride from the
island of Jolo. The Sulu Sea is
dotted with coral reefs and can provide some of the world’s best dive
spots for those seeking the ultimate in underwater beauty and adventure.
At least half of the world's known sea shell species are found in the immensely
rich marine waters of the Sulu
At least half of the world's known sea shell species are found in the immensely rich marine waters of the Sulu Sea.
Reef - is the best-known dive site in
the Sulu Sea, drawing divers from all over the world. Philippine dive books and diving experts claim that diving
here is a wonderful experience due to the rich marine life that abounds in the
reef. Snappers, sweet lips, groupers, angelfish and morays can be found amid
huge fan corals and sponges. Large
schools of barracudas, jacks, rainbow runners and surgeons pass by while schools
of tuna race about. Most divers use
Puerto Princessa in Palawan as their jump-off point. The most experienced dive
cruise vessels are docked here.
How to get there: Jolo Island and its capital of Jolo is the gateway to the islands of the Sulu Archipelago. Three commercial flights are available daily from Zamboanga City.