THE Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (Armm) inaugurated on Monday, July 3, the P147-million infrastructure projects in the province of Tawi-Tawi.
Armm Governor Mujiv Hataman led the inauguration and turnover of the projects worth P80 million for improvement of the access road to the oldest mosque in the country, the Sheikh Karim-ul Makhdum mosque, Sheikh Makhdum Cultural Center, and a welcome arc fashioned with a big Quran in the island town of Simunul.
Secretary Don Mustapha Loong of the Department of Public Works and Highways-Armm, Secretary Ayesha Vanessa Dilangalen of the Department of Tourism-Armm, Tawi-Tawi Governor Rashidin Matba, Joint Task Force Tawi-Tawi Commander Custodio Parcon and other officials joined Hataman in the inauguration of the projects.
Hataman said that it is fitting to improve the area not only for tourism but also to value the place because “this is where Islam was introduced to the Philippines.”
The Sheikh Karim-ul Makhdum Mosque is located in the village of Tubig Indangan, Simunul Tawi-Tawi.
It is the oldest mosque in the country and was built by an Arab trader, Sheikh Karim-ul Makhdum in 1380. The original pillars of the old mosque can still be found inside the new building.
Simunul Mayor Ahmad Abdurahman said they are training the residents on how to attend to tourists since they have been receiving a steady visit of Muslims across the country.
Loong said that their interventions are the region's counterparts to the development of the site of the mosque.
The National Historical Institute (NHI) is the one in charge of the rehabilitation of the mosque, Loong said.
The other projects Hataman inaugurated and turned over included P8 million worth 40 core shelter projects in the village of Tubig Indangan, Simunul and the tourist center building and pavement of the more than two kilometer stretch in Bud Bongao Peak located in the municipality of Bongao, the capital of the province of Tawi-Tawi.
The beneficiaries of the core shelter project have also received provisions of food security and livelihood component administered by the Department of Social Welfare and Development in Armm.
The Bud Bongao Peak project also included viewing decks, 14 waiting sheds, and solar-powered led-lights within the 250-hectare eco-tourism site.
Bongao Mayor Jimuel Que said there is a need to balance the area as tourist site and environmental protection since the average visitors trekking the Bongao Peak reached to about 1,500 a week.
Que said the visitors trekking the Bongao Peak will not just enjoy the challenge to reach the top of the mountain but importantly to learn the rich biodiversity of the mountain.
He said they will be also greeted by long-tail macaques while trekking.
The Bongao Peak was also the burial site of Sheikh Makhdum, which is also being visited by pilgrims and Muslim scholars. (SunStar Philippines)