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From Malaysia to the Philippines - One Shout Away

It feels a bit weird for a Filipino to be standing on a Malaysian island and looking at another small island that is part of the Philippines. Yes, in the Turtle Islands, the Philippines is just a shout away from Malaysia.

There are nine landforms that belong to the Turtle Islands in this frontier area. Six belong to the Philippines and the other 3 are in the territory of Malaysia. The Philippine side is actually a municipality whose people depend mainly on fishing. It belongs to the province of Tawi-tawi (which is another major tourism treasure just waiting for its right time).

Both countries have agreed on a pact to cooperatively protect the area which has been classified into an international heritage site because it has become one of the very few remaining major turtle nesting grounds in the world.

The islands are only 45 minutes away by speedboat from Sandakan but a good 12 hours by slow boat from any take off point in the Philippines.

Malaysia has been successfully operating turtle watching as an ecotourism program in one of their islands for 30 years now. With high demand on turtle watching (many tour operators book the tours one year in advance), the Philippines can become an ideal expansion area.

It is an exciting possibility! The two countries working together for economic development and environmental protection, the frontier community of Turtle Islands finally getting a shot for their own socio-economic upliftment, providing them added and enhanced livelihood, and the turtles can become better protected.

I would really like to see that scenario in my lifetime.


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