Sulu lies at the southern part of the Philippines, a province that has been marred with decades of conflict and adversity. For too long, its resilient people have endured a cycle of despair and suffering.
An island rich in culture and history, Sulu has often been overlooked by the outside world. Its verdant mountains and crystal-clear waters have been both a source of life and isolation for its people. Hindered by poverty and conflict, the Tausug people have long been deprived of basic necessities others take for granted. But now, a glimmer of hope illuminates their once-darkened horizon.
Al-qusairi Jumaili, a local resident, reminisces, “Noong wala pa ‘yong BARMM, [ang] sitwasyon dito sa Sulu ay parang naka-confine ang mga tao, ang napupuntahan lang namin ay ‘yong parte ng Jolo. Dito sa Patikul, maraming beaches pero nakakatakot puntahan at hindi siya accessible.”
[Before BARMM, our situation in Sulu felt confining. We could only reach parts of Jolo. Here in Patikul, there are many beaches, but they were frightening to visit and not easily accessible.]
But all of it is changing now. Under the leadership of Chief Minister Ahod Ebrahim, the Bangsamoro Government, determined to bring about a better future for its people, has embarked on an ambitious development program. Roads are being concreted, infrastructures are being put in place, and communities are undergoing transformative changes.
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For generations, the Tausug people were denied access to natural wonders dotting their land, hindered by rough and perilous roads. Thanks to the Bangsamoro Government’s efforts, these areas are now evolving into-world class destinations.
“[Ang] sitwasyon namin ngayon ay mabuti na dahil nakakalabas na kami ngayon [sa] gabi at marami nang mga [na-develop] na beaches [at] tourist spots [ang] BARMM at [ang] mga daanan dito sa amin ay sementado na at accessible na [ang] lahat ng mga municipalities dito sa amin,” stressed Jumaili.
[Our situation is much better now. We can go out at night, and many beaches and tourist spot have been developed. The roads in our area are now cemented and all municipalities are accessible.]
Umangay Beach or also known as Mauboh Beach, boasting pristine white sands and crystal-clear waters, is now a popular destination for tourists. Imbe Theya Beach Resort, nestled in a secluded cove, offers visitors a chance to escape from the hustle and bustle of modern life. Meanwhile, Timpook Lake, with its lush vegetation, is a paradise for nature lovers.
But this transformation is not just about tourism. The development of these places profoundly impacts the lives of the Tausug people, who have long been denied crucial needs like healthcare and education. With new infrastructure in place, courtesy of the Bangsamoro Government, they are finally receiving the services they deserve.
From covered courts and barangay halls to public markets and free housing units, these initiatives are turning the province into a more comfortable and convenient place to live. The Tausug people now enjoy better access to essential services, enhanced safety during inclement weather, and a more conducive environment for their daily activities.
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For the Tausug people, these developments represent a new hope for their future. After enduring decades of suffering and sorrow, they are finally able to dream again. While they acknowledge that there is still a long way to go, their hard work and determination fuel the belief that they can build a better future for themselves and their children.
As Jumaili put it: “Maraming salamat sa BARMM at sana mas marami pang project ang gagawin nila dito sa Sulu para patuloy na umunlad ang Sulu.”
[Thank you, BARMM, and may more projects come to Sulu to continue its progress.] (Alline Jamar Undikan/BIO)