Location of Basilan in the Philippines
The Province of Basilan (Zamboangueño: Provincia de Basilan) is an island province of the Philippines within the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM). Basilan is the largest and northernmost of the major islands of the Sulu Archipelago and is located just off the southern coast ofZamboanga Peninsula (geographical region). Its capital, Isabela City, is grouped together with Basilan for geographical and statistical purposes, but is administered independently as part of the Zamboanga PeninsulaRegion.
Basilan is home to three main ethnic groups, the indigenous Yakans, and the later-arriving Tausugs and Zamboangueño. The Yakans and Tausugs are predominantly Muslim, while the Zamboangueño are mainly Christian. There are also a number of smaller groups. Although the official language is English, the major language is Yakan, but other languages are well represented, including Tausug, Samal, and Zamboangueño Chavacano.
Basilan, although classified as a 3rd-Class Province in terms of gross provincial income, has one of the lowest incidence of poverty in the Philippines (26.19% of the general population), ranked 20 among the Philippines' 80 provinces (in comparison, Maguindanao which is ranked last at number 80 has a poverty incidence of 44.24%). More importantly, the gap between Basilan's rich and poor residents are among the narrowest in the country (ranked 3rd nationwide), pointing to one of the most equitable distributions of wealth anywhere in the country (GINI Coefficient 0.2826, which is slightly better than the Provinces of Pampanga, Bulacan, Nueva Ecija, Tarlac, Cavite, Batanes and Batangas).
Basilan is located between latitudes 6°15' and 7°00', and longitudes 121°15' and 122°30'. The island is bordered by the Basilan Strait to the north, the Sulu Sea to the northwest and west, the Moro Gulf to the northeast, and the Celebes Sea to the south, southeast and east.
Basilan is the largest and northernmost island of the Sulu Archipelago between the Philippine islands ofMindanao and Borneo which includes about 400 islands. Basilan Strait, about 17 nautical miles (31 km) at its narrowest point, separates Basilan Island from the mainland of Mindanao and the port city of Zamboanga. The terrain of the island is simple, with several undulating slopes concentrated around Isabela City along the coastal areas and hilly towards the interior. Urban areas are usually 2.5 metres (8 ft 2 in) above sea level and gently sloping to 300 metres (980 ft) toward the hinterlands. The stand of timber and forest vegetation is more or less evenly distributed throughout.
The province encompasses most of Basilan Island (it excludes Isabela City), and all nearby offshore islands, together with the Pilas island group (now Hadji Muhtamad Municipality) west of the island, and the Bubuan and Tapiantana island group (now Tabuan-Lasa Municipality) in the south. These are listed among the Philippine islands with a moderate risk of getting hit by tsunamis. The province has a land area of 114,529 hectares (283,010 acres) under its jurisdiction. When Isabela City is included for geographical purposes, the province's land area is 137,902 hectares (340,760 acres). Basilan Island itself has an area of 1,265.5 square kilometres (488.6 sq mi) and a shoreline of 169.8 kilometres (105.5 mi).
Basilan National Park is located at the eastern portion of the remaining public forest between the city of Isabela and the municipalities of Lamitan, Tipo-Tipo and Sumisip. The park has an elevation of 971 metres (3,186 ft) above sea level, and the tallest peak, Puno Mahaji or Basilan Peak, dominates the park's landscape.
Several waves of Negrito and ancient Chinese migration populated the Philippines. The Yakan people arrived in the area of the Sulu Archipelago, of which Basilan is a part, around 300 BCE to 200 BCE. Little is known of them before the era of Spanish colonization, but they still make up the largest ethnic group on the main island of Basilan.
As the Tausug Sultanate of Sulu grew in power, the Yakans withdrew inland, until most of the coastal communities along the island's southern, western and northwestern shores were primarily inhabited by Tausugs and their vassal tribes, the Samals and Bajaus (Tau-Laut). The only exception was the relatively prosperous Yakan communities of Lamitan.
Basilan first came to European attention when it was documented by the remnants of the Ferdinand Magellan expedition in 1521. It was eventually colonized by the Spanish as early as 1636 and was formally ceded by the Sulu Sultanate to Spain in 1726. The withdrawal of the Yakans inland was hastened by Spanish establishment of advance bases on the island's northwestern coast, bringing in Christianized 'indios' from Zamboanga, the Visayas and Luzon. By then, even the Yakan communities of Lamitan were completely overrun. Jesuit missionaries brought Catholicism to the region. Fighting with the Sultanate, the Dutch East India Company, Moro Pirates, and the French figured in Basilan's history over the years.
With its victory in the 1898 Spanish–American War, the United States gained possession of the Philippines. Americans proceeded to 'pacify' Basilan, cleared large expanses of land and established plantations, mainly to produce rubber andcopra.
Following the Japanese occupation of the country during World War II, in 1946, the Philippines gained its independence. Beginning around 1970, heavy fighting broke out between the Philippine government and the Moro National Liberation Front, which was determined to secede and form a new country.
Then President Marcos made Basilan a province in 1973. It joined the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao in 2001, the last province to do so. Its former capital, Isabela City, however, opted out and remains a part of the Zamboanga Peninsula Region (formerly Western Mindanao, Region 9).
Pre-Hispanic texts from the royal archives of the Sulu Sultanate referred to the northernmost island of the Sulu Archipelago as Taguima, from the Yakan who were called "Tagihamas" (people of the interior or hinterlands) by the Tausug and Samal peoples who came and settled in numerous but scattered communities along Basilan's western and southwestern shores and outlying islets and island groups.
Later references mentioned "Bantilan", probably referring to Maluso, which was established as a major Tausug base by Sulu Sultan Muizz ud-Din (whose princely name was Datu Bantilan).
Imperial Chinese texts mention a "Kingdom of Kumalarang" (from the Yakan "kumalang" or "to sing", owing to the location being a place for celebrations and gatherings) during the Ming Dynasty, believed to be the island which now has a barangayof the same name on its northwestern shores.
The earliest map of the Philippines which made reference to an island labeled "Taguima" was produced by Giacomo Gastaldi, through woodblock prints in 1548 and subsequently included in the influential travel book of Giovanni Battista Ramusio, the Della Navigatione e Viaggi, which was published between 1556 and 1583 in three volumes. This was followed by Abraham Ortelius's work Indiae Orientalis Insularumque Adiacientium Typus, published in 1573 in a German text edition of the atlas Theatrum Orbis Terrarum by Christophe Plantin in Antwerp. As late as 1719, a map titled "Die philippinische Inseln - Isle Brneo" by Allain Manesson Mallet of Frankfurt, Germany featured an island still labeled "Tagyma I."
The process by which all these names became "Basilan" is almost certainly due to miscommunication between the natives and the Spanish, as well as the penchant to engage in editorial license by European map-makers of the era.
Basilan's name may also derive from its iron ore deposits. Tausug warriors and slave-traders from Sulu came to Taguima to purchase high-quality magnetic iron ores, which they used for swords, knives and other blades. This profitable trade, helped in large measure by the establishment of Maluso as a major military-naval base of the Sulu Sultanate, eventually gave the island the distinction of being the source of basih-balan, the Tausug word for magnetic iron. Roughly translated and abbreviated, however, basih-lan means "the iron (magnet) trail" or "the iron way".
When several Tausug warriors were caught by the Spanish in one of their numerous raids on the Zamboanga settlement, Spanish officials supposedly admired the artistry and skill that went into making the warriors' elaborately decorated swords, knives and blades, and asked where these weapons could be bought. From atop the ramparts of the Spanish commandery at the Fuerza del Nuestra Senora del Pilar de Zaragoza (Fort Pilar), the warriors supposedly pointed to the island visible across today's Basilan Strait, and said, simply, "ha basih-lan".
Reports from the Jesuit reducciones in Zamboanga and Pasangen (Isabela) were relayed to Manila, where Spanish cartographer Pedro Murillo de Velarde published Historia de la Provincia de Philipinas de la Compañia de Jesvs. Segvnda parte using the Jesuit printing press at Manila in 1749. It featured a map of the Philippines with the as yet unofficial "I. Basilan". The map was re-published by Leipzig map-maker Nicolaus Bellinn for general European circulation in 1752.
Finally, to represent a clear break from the Habsburg Dynasty (which had ruled Spain for 184 years from 1516 to 1700), the first officially sanctioned Spanish maps of its colonies, including "Las Islas de Mindanao", were commissioned by theBourbons (1700–present). This particular map of Mindanao, apparently copied from the Nicolaus Bellinn map of 1752, was published by Nicolas Norton Nicols in 1757, featuring "Basilan" and bearing the royal stamp of Spanish Bourbon KingFerdinand VI. It has been called "Isla de Basilan" (Basilan Island) ever since.
Treasure Islands of the Southern Seas
Basilan Island's reputation as a staging-ground for Moro raids on Zamboanga, the Visayas and even Luzon, and as a temporary repository of the plunder from these raids. gave the island a notoriety not unlike the "Treasure Islands" of the West Indies or the buccaneers' havens and pirate coves of the Caribbean.
Spanish and Tausug fleets engaged each other in sea battles and skirmishes not far from the western shores of the islands. Many of their ships were scuttled or sunk, sometimes with precious cargoes of traded goods and Mexican silver pieces meant for the fort in Zamboanga and the naval squadron at Isabela, as well as goods en route to Jolo from the Mindanao mainland.
The Spanish Pigafetta expedition landed on a group of islets west of the main island of Basilan, where they found precious pearls; subsequent Spanish cartographers aptly named these the "Isletas de Perlas" (Pearl Islets). Native Samal and Bajao folk called this group of islets and reefs "Pilas" (Perlas), a name still used to this day. More recently, there have been local rumors about gold bars and other trinkets hidden among the many islets by retreating Japanese troops at the end of World War II. To date, treasure hunters of various nationalities, among them Japanese and Europeans, have scoured the area.
All these tales of treasures hidden in Basilan's many remote, unpopulated islets gave it the nickname "Treasure Islands of the Southern Seas", immortalized in the official anthem of the Province of Basilan, "Fair Basilan", composed by Basilan lyricist and composer Tranquilino Gregorio.
The biggest cultural influences on the island derive from Basilan's tri-ethnic community: the native Yakan, Tausug and Zamboangueño peoples. The Yakans and Tausugs are predominantly Muslim, while the Zamboangueño are primarily Catholic. Among the Tausugs and Samals, the phrase "mag-tausug na kaw" means "become a Muslim", instead of the more literal translation, "become a Tausug", as the Tausug ethnic is regarded as the "original Muslims" of the area. Although the majority of the Yakans are Muslims, a significant number still conform to traditional local beliefs, traditions and rituals, while a few have likewise opted to be baptized Catholics. Along with a majority of the Zamboangueño, the Cebuano and the Ilonggo/Hiligaynon Bisaya are also Catholics.
Culturally, the Yakan and the Tausug are distinct ethnolinguistic groups; the Yakan represent the "Lumad" (albeit lately most Yakans have since converted to Islam)or indigenous peoples of Basilan, while the Tausugs, the Samal and the Bajao are regarded as the "original Muslims", and the Zamboangueño, Cebuano and Ilonggoare the "Cristianos". The rest, a mixture of Tagalogs, Ilocanos, Waray, Bicolanos, Maranaos, Iranuns and Maguindanaos, are more recent migrants permanently residing in the region, itinerant merchants or government workers.
This mix of ethnicities, forged together first by the Spanish practice of establishing re-settlements or reducciones, as well as the multinational plantations' importation of skilled Christian farm workers and laborers from the Visayas and Luzon, gives Basilan a distinct culture in the Philippines. It is the only predominantly Muslim province that is governed primarily by its indigenous population, and whose most commonly spoken language is Zamboangueño Chavacano.
The Tausugs and Samals, for the most part having been denied ownership of land, and owing also to their primary livelihood of fishing, live along the coastlines, constructing their houses on stilts at the water's edge near population centers. Their houses are, for the most part, outside of the municipal water and sewerage systems of the urban centers. This group controls nearly 100% of the bountiful aquatic resources that surround the island. The Yakans, on the other hand, having been driven far inland, are scattered throughout the island's interior, in similar raised houses usually made of light materials, but separated from each other. Yakans control nearly all Local Government Units, and since the late 80s have found employment in Government jobs. The Christians are mostly found in the plains, the cities and in the plantations, squeezed between the Tausug-dominated coasts and the Yakan-dominated hinterlands. They make up the bulk of the island's professionals, entrepreneurs, and lowland farmers. The Christians, however, own most of the arable land, as well as nearly all of the businesses and occupy most of the professions.
Tausug/Samal festivals are usually connected to the sea, celebrating the bounty of the seas, even staging dazzling fluvial wedding parades on colorfully bedecked vintas and paraws, a nod to the Tausugs' former naval prowess. Catholic fiestas are almost always related to good harvests on the farms, as well as saintly miracles against natural calamities and victories against Moro attacks in the past. Yakan festivals, meanwhile, are rooted in older, pre-Islamic rituals such as warrior dances, colorful wedding pageants, and harvest rituals.
Culturally, therefore, the Zamboangueños, Cebuanos and Tausugs have had a close relationship, both professionally as well as in trade and commerce, being regarded as the island's "lowlanders" by the Yakan, who are regarded as "de arriba" by the Zamboangueños or "tagihamas" by the Suluanon Tausugs, which roughly translates as "uplanders". Conversely, the Yakan have reason to be suspicious of the intents and motives of their lowland neighbors, having been at the receiving end of slave raids, invasions and punitive attacks from both groups for over 500 years.
With the island's strategic location right at the crossroads of the warring camps of Tausugs and the Spanish, Basilan was divided into three primary spheres of cultural dominance by one of the three groups. Basilan's northern and northwestern coasts, facing the heavily Hispanized Zamboanga City across the narrow Basilan Strait, is culturally Christian, or more precisely Catholic. Basilan's southern and southwestern coastal areas have a distinctly Tausug-oriented culture. The eastern and interior portions of Basilan, on the other hand, isolated for the most part from the Spanish in Zamboanga, and the Tausug from Jolo, are enclaves of the indigenous Yakan.
Basilan's population is 33% Christian (90% or 117,000 of them being Roman Catholic), and 65% Muslim.
A majority of Basilan's Muslim population (41%) practice Sunni Islam of the Shafi'itradition, as taught by Arab, Persian, Indian Muslim, and Malaccan missionaries from the 14th century onwards. A substantial remainder follow a syncretist mix of Islam and Yakan folk customs and traditions exclusively among the native Yakan populations farther inland, and a different version of the same folk Islamic tradition which is practiced by the Bajao in Basilan's outlying islands and surrounding seas.
A majority of Basilan's Muslims are concentrated on the island's southern slopes. Christians reside mostly in the urban centers of Isabela and Lamitan on the island's northern coast, where they constitute a majority. Sizable Christian settlements are also found in the former multi-national plantations, for example Tairan, Lantawan; Tumahubong, Sumisip; Maluso Townsite, Maluso. The rest have a mixture of both traditional and autochthonal beliefs.
Relatively newer Islamic sects, mostly brought by returning veterans of the Afghan wars and missionaries from Pakistan's stricter Sufi traditions, referred to as the Tableegh, have been active in propagating what they believe to be a "purer" Islamic way of life and worship. A very small number who have since married into Iranian or Iraqi families have converted to Shiite Islam.
Non-Catholic Christians include Evangelicals, Jesus Miracle Crusade, Episcopalian, and Iglesia ni Cristo (INC), Mormons,Seventh-day Adventists, Jehovah's Witnesses, and a number of other Protestant denominations. Only the most recent Chinese immigrants adhere to Buddhism or Taoism, while most of the older Chinese families have acculturated and have either converted to Christianity or Islam while retaining most of their Chinese beliefs.
The Jesuit mission established in 1637 was replaced by a parish when Basilan was reassigned to the Order of Augustinian Recollects in 1850. The Jesuits regained Isabela Parish from 1860 to 1880, and then lost it again to the Recollects, who administered the parish until 1920, at which time Isabela de Basilan was turned over to diocesan priests until 1930. From 1930 through 1950, the Jesuits returned to Isabela, finally relinquishing their long-held outpost to the Claretian Fathers, who took over from 1951 to 1974.
The Isabela Parish burned to the ground in 1962, and was rebuilt in 1964 under the aegis of Basilan's first bishop, the Most Rev. Jose Ma. Querexeta, a Spaniard. The cathedral was consecrated to Sta. Isabel in 1970, and diocesan priests have since administered the same from 1974 to the present. The cathedral figured prominently in recent news, suffering one destructive explosion in a triple bomb blast on April 13, 2010.
The Prelature of Isabela de Basilan was created on October 12, 1963, and comprises all territories constituting the civil jurisdiction of Basilan Province, including Isabela City. Its titular patron is Sta. Isabel de Portugal.
Bishop Querexeta was succeeded by Bishop Romulo T. Dela Cruz, Basilan's first Filipino bishop, on February 16, 1989, who served until January 10, 2002, when the present bishop, the Most Rev. Martin S. Jumoad took over.
Basilan's literacy rate has risen over the past two decades, although it remains one of the Philippines' lowest; 72.23% are considered literate, as opposed to the national figure of 92.6%.
The province has one state college and five private colleges. Basilan State College is located in Isabela City and has an extension college in Lamitan City and Maluso.
Basilan is served by three school divisions of the Department of Education, one each for Basilan, Isabela City and Lamitan City, the first two are both headquartered in Isabela City, and the latter is located in Lamitan City. A number of public and private high schools dot the province. The premier secondary educational institution on the island is Basilan National High School located in Isabela City, followed by Lamitan National High School in Lamitan City. The Claret High Schools of Isabela, Lamitan, Maluso and Tumahubong, and a number of Madaris provide private elementary and secondary instruction. Claret College of Isabela is the only Claretian institution which offers tertiary level education in the entire Philippines.
More than 42% of the population five years old and older attended or completed elementary education, 17.3% attended or completed high school, while 1.5% attended or finished post secondary education. Less than 3% possessed academic degrees, while 6.2 percent were college undergraduates. A very small number pursued post-baccalaureate studies. There were more males than females among those who attended or finished elementary (51.1%), high school (50.3%), among college undergraduates (52.0%) and those who took post baccalaureate courses (58.4%). On the other hand, there were more females who attended or completed post-secondary courses (52.9%) and were academic degree holders (52.34%).
Clubs and organizations
When the United States assumed control of the Philippines after its victory in the Spanish–American War, it brought about the single biggest change in the local economy. By around 1914, Dr. James W. Strong, a pioneering American plantation owner, cleared vast tracts of land on the island's northern plains (Isabela/Lamitan), and established what became the Philippines' first commercial rubber plantation—the American Rubber Co. Upon consulting with Fr. Zamora, a noted botanist of theUniversity of Santo Tomas in Manila, he decided to start experimenting with rubber plants and in 1910, forming the Basilan Rubber Plantation in partnership with J.M. Menzi Corporation as principal stock holders. Seven years later, he sold out his interest to J.M. Menzi Corporation and started American Rubber Co. backed by San Francisco capital. He started building roads in Basilan with the help of his children. Those roads are now part of the National Highway system in Basilan.
The family and plantation prospered and was visited by such notables as Manuel L. Quezon, President of the Commonwealth of the Philippines, his vice-presidentSergio Osmeña, General Douglas MacArthur and assorted Governor Generals andHigh Commissioners for the Philippines.
The 913-hectare plantation was eventually sold to American multi-nationalB.F.Goodrich through its local subsidiary American Rubber Plantation Corp. This was followed by investments from British-Malayan firm Sime Darby Corp., which opened their 1,651 hectares (4,080 acres) rubber plantation on the island's southern slopes (Sumisip/Tipo-Tipo).
The success of these large-scale cash crop plantations was emulated by a number of enterprising Filipinos and Spanish-mestizo families from Zamboanga, Negros and Luzon. Among these were Don Juan S. Alano, a Hispano-Chinese mestizoand native of Malolos, Bulacan, who opened the Philippine National Sugar Co. on Malamawi Island in 1921. This eventually became the Basilan Estates, Inc., the only 100% Filipino-owned plantation competing with American and British multi-nationals. It operated the Malamawi Island plantation, which was converted to coconut/copra production, and opened a 1,434-hectare copra plantation on the island's western plains (Tairan, Lantawan), Basilan's third-largest plantation in land area. American logging firms Weyerhaeuser Timber Co. and the American Lumber Co. opened large-scale logging concessions which operated in Basilan's extensive upland virgin forests. Menzi Agricultural Corp., owned by Hispano-German J. M. Menzi, also opened a 991-hectare rubber plantation in the southern part of Isabela which eventually expanded to black pepper and palm oil.
The University of the Philippines was awarded a huge 4,018-hectare land grant by the Philippine government, located in Sta. Clara, Lamitan. This was eventually taken over by the Marcos-era National Development Corp.
When J. M. Menzi died, he was succeeded at the helm of his substantial business interests by his son and Marcos crony, Hans Menzi. When the younger Menzi replaced the plantation's Swiss-expatriate managers with locals, these managers in turn opened up their own plantations elsewhere on the island. Arnold Winniger, Menzi's Swiss manager, together with the Cuevas-Pamaran-Antonio-Flores clan of Lamitan, cleared the Tumahubong, Sumisip area with their 316-hectare Siltown Realty Corp. Walter Boelsterli, another one of Menzi's Swiss recruits, established the 969-hectare Eurasia Match Inc. plantation around Mangal, Sumisip. An American corporation opened the 1,127-hectare Yakan Plantation in Lamitan. This was eventually sold to JAKA Holdings of Marcos-era Defense Minister and current Senator Juan Ponce Enrile. Finally, Dutch-American Donald Wieselski opened another 569-hectare coconut plantation in the Canas, Maluso area. This too was sold off to Eustaquio D. Tan & Sons, Inc. The Wihara Plantation, a Japanese company, opened in the Atong-Atong, Lantawan region. This became the source of many of the coconut varieties planted throughout the island.
By the 1950s and throughout the 1960s, the Chartered City of Basilan, fourth-biggest in the Philippines in terms of land area (after Davao, Puerto Princesa and Zamboanga), was classified as a first-class city. It exported copra, coconut oil, rubber and lumber to California by way of Guam and Hawaii.
A substantial number of expatriate plantation managers, mostly Americans but also Swiss, Germans, Dutch, Russian and even Japanese, Irish, and Swedes lived among and intermarried into the native populace.
The Weyerhaeuser Compound (now Tabuk Barangay) was an exclusive gated community for American expatriates living in Basilan. It had its own airstrip and wharf, and two-storey plantation-style villas set apart by expansive yards. The same sort of exclusive gated communities were put up at the Menzi Compound (Menzi Barangay) for Swiss and German managers, and at the Alano Compound (Dna. Ramona T. Alano Barangay) as well, precursors of modern-day subdivisions and exclusive gated communities in the Philippines.
Return of rubber
By 2003, Basilan embarked on large-scale replanting programs covering some 50,000 hectares (120,000 acres) of privately owned and/or cooperative-controlled lands, mainly for rubber and cassava. As of 2006, the province had 15,503 hectares (38,310 acres) planted, of which 7,148 hectares (17,660 acres) were owned by individual farmers and the rest by cooperatives. The exact land area devoted to rubber could reach over 20,000 hectares (49,000 acres), as there are hundreds of unrecorded small rubber growers and farmers. The provincial government reports that almost half or 7,029.47 hectares (17,370.2 acres) are immature, about a fifth or 3,143.36 hectares (7,767.4 acres) is classed as "less-productive", and a little under a third or 4,880.21 hectares (12,059.3 acres) is described as "productive."
A consortium of agrarian reform beneficiaries has been formed to improve quality and increase production. The Isla Corridor Consortium Agrarian Reform Communities not only sees itself as reviving the rubber industry, it also wants to help in the transformation of the battle-scarred province. The consortium, composed of the United Workers Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries Multipurpose Cooperative, Lamitan Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries Cooperative, Sta. Clara, and the Latuan Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries Association, Inc., accounts for a total area of about 6,000 hectares (15,000 acres), some 80% of which is planted with rubber trees.
Although it is still the biggest single crop produced in the province, coconut/copra production annually was only 193,848 metric tons in 2003, down from its peak production of 189,297,937 metric tons just two years before. Coconut plantations and small coconut farms cover more than 12,000 hectares (30,000 acres), all of which are classified as "productive" to "mature" areas. However, province-wide coconut production, which still accounts for 50%-60% of the province's total economic activity, has dropped precipitously to only 174,939 metric tons in 2002 due to the lingering effects of CARP, combined with a severe onset of the El Niño weather pattern, the worsening threat to peace and order resulting from the resurgent Abu Sayyaf terrorist group and their MILF allies, and the policy of the Akbar administration to replace coconut with rubber trees.
Coconut plantations began to revive in 2006, owing to the steep rise in copra prices. A comprehensive replanting and rehabilitation program is currently being implemented by the Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA) and the Department of Agriculture for the resuscitation of the island's copra production industry, once the Philippine's second-largest copra exporter after Quezon Province in Luzon. To date, however, coconut production in the province, rapidly being replaced by rubber plantations, has remained in the doldrums despite the government's best efforts to revive the ailing sector, such as PCA incentives to coconut farmers.
Basilan's extensive coastline hosts seafarers and fishers, almost all of them Tausugs, Samals and Bajaus, who have been engaged in fishing for several centuries. Annual Basilan fish production is limited to 28,073 metric tons due to resistance to the modernizing of their fishing fleets.
Only 2,945 metric tons of palay (rice) are produced in Basilan's mostly rolling terrain. Corn production is 1,333 metric tons, bananas 20,458 metric tons, and mangos 211 metric tons.
There are 155,541 chickens, 5,085 ducks, 7,803 carabaos (water buffalo), 2,724 cattle, 14,470 goats, and 14,700 hogs.
Banking and finance
Banks based in Basilan have a total deposit base of more than Php764,500,000. The city hosts at least 27 pawnshop operations, each of whom has an average of three branches, mostly located in Isabela City, Lamitan, and Maluso Townsite.
The Basilan business sector is represented by the Philippine Chamber of Commerce & Industry, Inc.-Basilan Chamber (PCCI-Basilan), organized in 1975, the only business support organization duly affiliated with the Philippine Chamber of Commerce & Industry, Inc. (PCCI), with 95% of its members being composed of small and medium enterprises, and offices mostly in Isabela City and Lamitan, but with business assets and operations throughout the island. A number of smaller business groups have since been established catering to the needs of businessmen from specific ethnic or religious affiliations.
Utilities, infrastructure and health
Basilan's electricity needs are served by the Basilan Electric Cooperative, powered by three diesel-powered electricity generating plants located at Brgy. Binuangan, Isabela City, one National Power Corporation diesel-powered barge located at Brgy. Tabuk, Isabela City, and two mini-hydroelectric plants located in Kumalarang, Isabela City and Balagtasan, Lamitan City. A total of 62 sitios, in 42 barangays spread out in 6 municipalities still do not have access to electricity. Only about 38% of Barangays are sufficiently powered for modern needs, and most of these are located in the cities of Isabela and Lamitan, and Maluso Municipality. Rates are currently pegged at US$0.824/kwH (Php11.42/kwH), one of the highest in the country. Basilan has a total electricity demand of 8.8MW (peak hours), and has a total reliable electricity supply of only 7.4MW, thus resulting in one of the country's longest intermittent blackout spells, running for several years now.
Basilan is served by three local water utilities: Isabela City Water District, Lamitan City Water District, and Maluso Water District. Only 17,693 households, however, have full access to safe and potable water. Current rates are pegged at an average US$3.20/month (+US$0.0826/10 cu.m.)
The island is served by the Provincial Telephone System, which has 600 land-line connections and connected with National Direct Dial via the Philippine Long Distance Telephone Company. It is also served by major mobile telecommunications carriers Globe Telecommunications and Smart Communications. It has two Wi-Fi internet service providers, and numerous internet cafes.
National roads (concrete, asphalt, gravel) total 131.92 kilometres (81.97 mi), while there are 795.8 kilometres (494.5 mi) of local roads. There are 13 municipal and local ports, three of which have roll-on/roll-off capability, and at least ten private airstrips servicing small aircraft. Among the major bridges are the Marcos Bridge of Isabela City and the recently inaugurated Matarling Bridge (built through USAID funding) between Isabela City and Lantawan.
There are 394 Barangay Health Workers and four private hospitals: the Juan S. Alano Memorial Hospital (formerly Basilan Hospital), Infante Hospital, Basilan Community Hospital, all in Isabela City, and the Dr. Jose Ma. Torres Hospital in Lamitan City. There are also four government-run hospitals: Basilan General Hospital and Isabela City Infirmary, both located in Isabela City, the Lamitan District Hospital in Lamitan City, and the Sumisip District Hospital in Luuk-Bait, Sumisip Municipality.
There are various attractions. Architectural landmarks include the Santa Isabel Cathedral, the Calvario Peak, on which the Chapel of Peace stands, and the Kaum Purnah Mosque. Natural attractions include the lake in the Panigayan fishing village, Sumagdang Beach and the waterfalls of the Kumalarang River. Various cultures can be visited, such as the Badjao, the Yakan, and the Muslim communities.