Mindanao is the second largest and easternmost island in the Philippines. It is also one of the three island groups in the country, along with Luzon and Visayas. Historically, the island was also known as Gran Molucas or Great Mollucas. Source: Wiki
As you approach, the jagged coastline and rugged interior of Mindanao provide visual confirmation of its reputation as the Deep South of the Philippines. It is mountainous country, a land of dense jungle and mangrove swamps hiding many of the country’s mineral riches and attracting a colorful potpourri of peoples and tribes. Fiercely defending their autonomy to this day against the missionary zeal of the Christian colonizers is a sizable Muslim population, the Moros, who share this second-largest island in the archipelago with the Badjao sea gypsies and the ‘cultural communities’ – indigenous peoples who live in the remoter areas, including the shy cave-dwelling Tasaday. You will be lucky indeed to see the latter, or the rare money-eating eagle (the largest in the world).
For most visitors, however, Zamboanga’s combination of stilted seaside villages and domed mosques, colorful markets and surrounding pineapple and coffee plantations will provide an exotic enough contrast to the beaches to constitute a true adventure holiday. Zamboanga City, considered by some as the most romantic place in the Philippines and a favourite resort amongst tourists. The city is noted for its seashells, unspoiled tropical scenery and magnificent flowers.
Renting a pump boat is the start of a magical mystery tour of Basilan Island and the Sulu archipelago. From Balingoan, the north-coast port near Cagayan de Oro – the ‘City of Golden Friendship’ – you can sail to Camiguin, an undiscovered diving paradise. A Klondike-style gold-rush community on the slopes of Mount Diwata adds the final touch to the frontier-town atmosphere.
Framed by mountain, tropical jungle, fertile valleys and plains, with Samal Island guarding the harbor entrance around which the metropolis grew up during the last century, the urban sprawl of Davao City dominates the broad sea inlet forming the Gulf of Davao. Stop over at the newly renovated Insular Hotel for beach views and resort atmosphere. The lively markets are a cornucopia of exotic fruit and vegetables from the Piedmont hinterland, and handicrafts by Mandaya and Mansaka tribeswomen; coarse-textured hand-woven cloth colored with bark and earth dyes, intricate silverware and imaginative wood carvings. Like most of the other islands in the Philippines, Mondanao remains largely uncharted tourist territory. This means that the Great Outdoors beyond the resorts still beckons with unspoilt countryside and uncorrupted ethnic ceremonies. The T’boli Lemlunai Festival performed each September on the shores of Lake Sebu is a dramatic synthesis of Christian practices and animist rites. Climbers with the requisite condition will head for Kidapawan and the arduous three-day trek to the roof of the island: Mount Apo, the sacred mountain of the Bagobo tribe.