Mindanao is the third group of islands in the Philippines, along with the Visayas and Luzon. It also happens to be the name of the largest island of the group and the second largest island in the Philippines. Geographically, Mindanao is the furthest south of any region in the country. As the country’s main agricultural producer, Mindanao is known as ‘The Philippines’ Land of Promise.’
The region’s history dates back thousands of years. The Subanon are thought to have established residency on the island in the Neolithic Age. In the 2nd Millennium, Islam took hold in the country, which was spread from neighboring Indonesia and Malaysia. When the Spanish arrived in the 16th Century, they had trouble establishing control over Mindanao due to the Islamic population. However, efforts were made by both the Spanish and the Americans to colonize the area due to its agricultural importance. These efforts were successful, for the most part, and Christianity became the region’s major religion, practiced by 75% of the population.
Since the 1960s, the region has experienced violent conflict due to the colonizing efforts of the Philippines, the USA and Spain. The Muslim minority would now like to establish an independent state. In 2000, the Filipino government tired of the low intensity conflict and declared an all-out war on the rebels. This led to heavy violence in the southwestern section of Mindanao. In 2012, a major breakthrough in relations pacified the conflict, meaning that Mindanao is now safer than ever before. With that said, many governments still regularly issue travel warnings for the region. It is best to check the current situation before planning a trip to this area.
Be one of the first to explore this beautiful island now that violence in the area has seemingly settled. Highlights include climbing Mt. Apo, relaxing on white sand beaches, and gaping at Aliwagwag Falls. Be sure to reserve some time for a trip to Camiguin where you will find plentiful trekking opportunities, refreshing waterfalls, quaint fishing villages and hundred year-old churches. Life’s definitely more adventurous in this part of the Philippines.
Francisco Bangoy International Airport in Davao is the main gateway to the province. It is also possible to fly into Laguindingan Airport in Cagayan de Oro. Most flights to Mindanao are domestic in nature. However, there are occasional flights to and from Singapore.
Once you are in the region, you will need to rely on three-wheelers, taxis, jeepneys or minibuses to travel from point A to point B.