Lunch Situation at Bulingan Falls | Lamitan City, Basilan


A feast of a brunch consisting of mouth-watering Tausug and Sama delicacies on a floating cottage, followed by a beachfront banquet with curacha crabs and other fresh seafood catch, made for one memorable first day in Basilan. It goes without saying that I expected our lunch the next day would be equally fulfilling - and it indeed was.

Alyanna Bromeo swims in Bulingan Falls
The water was murky because of the rain the night before

However, before our monstrous appetite dealt with the lunch situation that day, we first need to journey to a city that still carries a long-standing misconception — no thanks to the infamous events that dominated headlines more than 20 years ago; Lamitan City.

Marky Ramone Go with his signature jump shot in Lamitan City

Up until several years ago, I was one of those who harbored safety apprehension about traveling to Basilan, particularly Lamitan City. Thankfully, I was exposed to a circle of travelers where a good number have visited Basilan (including my ex-Girlfriend who went alone there in 2011). As I read and listened to their accounts, it became clear that Basilan as a whole is no different from other places in the Philippines.

Lunch is served by Sara Abdollahi in Bulingan falls
Lunch set-up for the win

As developments started happening in the early 2010s when the whole island became connected by a diversion road, local economies flourished and the youths who was once a favorite target of insurgent group's recruitment program, found other better things to do namely; attend school or go to work.

Kezia Romblon flat laying lunch

Following that make-over, the rich culture of Basilan — upstaged by the headlines of Government battles with terrorist groups — slowly emerged into the consciousness of us outsiders.

Marky Ramone Go takes a selfie at Bulingan Falls in Basilan

Traditions widely known and practiced in the province — such as Yakan weaving — soon became an object of fascination and interest among travelers. Other than that, nature sights like Malamawi Beach became a favorite among avid travelers. Among those great outdoor gems of Basilan is Bulingan Falls.

Levy Amosin visits Basilan

We arrived at Bulingan Falls the night after torrential rains lashed the forests of the province. Consequently, murky-colored water flowed through the wide cascade of the waterfall. The tour officer who was with our group was so apologetic because of that. She tells us in Tagalog that “If only it hadn't rained last night, the water would have been much clearer today”.

Mishi Magno takes a Panoramic shot of Bulingan Falls in Basilan

Murky waters it may be, Bulingan Falls still appear majestic enough for me to be captivated by it. Upon close scrutiny (aka me sitting on a slab or rock staring at the waterfalls and contemplating life), I noticed its magnificent nature-chiseled walls as if a sculpture meticulously shaped it. Its sculpted appearance reminded me of Pongour Waterfalls in Da Lat, Vietnam.

Moha Barakat shows her plate full of Basilan's best dishes

On a hot summer day, I would have opted to swim. On this day though, I preferred to just ogle and listen to the sounds of the streaming waters of Bulingan Falls. That and dealing with another delicious lunch situation that involves buttered large shrimps dipped in sweet and spicy sauce, fish in pineapple express — as i call it, Tiyulah Itum (braised meat in black soup), chicken curry, garlic fried giant crabs, and a savory dish of mashed vegetables with meat served inside a Squash (Kalabasa).

Tourism Promotions Board of the Philippines
with fellow travel writers, vloggers, members of Tourism Promotions Board of the Philippines, iTravel Tourist Lane and Lamitan Tourism

Since we came here to explore the region’s Hilom (Wellness), Habi (Weaving) and Halal (Cuisine), I dealt with our lunch situation at Bulingan Falls by slowly savoring every bite while listening to the soundtrack of nature nearby. Lamitan City isn’t bad after all — in fact, it’s up there among the best provinces to explore in the Philippines.