As the southernmost province of the Philippines eyes to lure tourists to visit the place, Hataman has allocated P139 million to better infrastructures in two of its most iconic tourist destinations, the Sheik Karim-ul Makdum mosque and the Bud Bongao Peak.
Interviewed by the Philippine News Agency (PNA), Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) Gov. Mujiv Hataman said that “it is but fitting to improve this area not only for tourism but most importantly to value the place because this is where Islam was introduced to the Philippines.”
P80 million was allocated for the town of Simunul, including in the improvement of the access road, Sheik Makdum Cultural Center, and a welcome arc fashioned with a big Quran. The Sheik Karim-ul Makdum is located in Barangay Tubig Indangan, Simunul, a fourth class municipality.
Islam, through Arab merchant Sheik Makdum, was introduced in the country in 1380.
The Sheik Karim-ul Makdum mosque has undergone several renovations more than 600 years after it was established. It still bears the original four pillars. It is now protected by the National Historical Institute (NHI), which is in charge of the rehabilitation of the mosque.
P56 million were also spent for a tourist center building and pavement of more than two kilometer road in Bud Bongao Peak, located in the municipality, the province’s capital. This project also included the installation of viewing decks, 14 waiting sheds, and solar-powered LED lights within the 250-hectare eco-tourism site.
An average 1,500 visitors weekly climb the Bongao Peak, which was also the burial site of Sheik Makdum, which is also being visited by pilgrims and Muslim scholars. At the top of the mountain, several island municipalities of the province (such as Simunul and Sibutu) can be seen.
The province is made up of 11 island towns. Aside from Simunul, Sibutu and this town, the other towns are Languyan, Mapun, Panglima Sugala, Sapa-Sapa, Sitangkai, South Ubian, Tandubas and Turtle Islands.