top of page

The Tide Turns

Mayor Aleli-3

Hadji Panglima Tahil, Sulu Mayor Abraham ‘Jess’ Burahan on changing preconceived notions about Muslims, and promoting peace and unity among Filipinos.


Mayor Aleli-1


At the southern tip of the Philippines, seemingly at the edge of the world, lies the quiet, picturesque coastal town of Hadji Panglima Tahil. It is a cluster of islands found in the Sulu Archipelago, surrounded by pristine, azure waters and guarding precious aquatic gardens of the sea. Notwithstanding existing prejudices about the conflict in the area, this small seaside municipality lives to prove that peace, beauty,
and wonder do exist in the province of Sulu.

The Municipality of Hadji Panglima Tahil is located in the first district of the island province of Sulu. Formerly known as Marunggas, it was renamed in November 13, 1995. According to the current town mayor, Abraham Burahan, the ‘Hadji Panglima’ is said to be a title more powerful than king. The coastal municipality is about half an hour boat ride from the capital of Jolo. As a sixth class municipality, it has a
population of around 6,375 spread throughout five barangays, covering a land area of around 68 kilometers. There are Tausugs, Badjaos, Christians, and even Ilonggo people living in the locality. While each barangay does not share a common border with the other barangays, the islets are in close proximity to one another, around three to five minutes by speedboat.

The main industry of Hadji Panglima Tahil is seaweed farming with farms on shallow waters. There is a business on buying and selling seaweed products. Because of the town’s 11 islets, the locals have a vast and wide fishing ground. “Nililigawan kami ng big-time fisherman para pumasok, to share in the profit
pero hindi namin ginagawa kasi kawawa ang mga stakeholders doon. (Big-time fishermen entice us to allow them entry by having a share in the profits but we don’t let them do so for the sake of our local fishermen),” Mayor Burahan says. The palakaya is the archaic term for the fishing boat used by the locals. “[Sa lugar namin, ang mga tao doon] hanapbuhay lamang tapos kain, tapos hanapbuhay uli (Because it’s a rural area, the locals simply live day to day by earning a living),” the local chief executive explains.

Hadji Panglima Tahil has a flea market, although only for a specific day of the week. Because of the town’s proximity to the capital of Jolo, the locals visit the capital town almost daily. “Doon sila namamalengke, pero kapag isda, mas mura sa amin. May mga tao din galing sa town namimili sa amin (The locals go to the capital to buy what they need, but when it comes to fish, ours is cheaper. There are also people from the capital who buy from us), Mayor Burahan says.

Although the town is a fishing village, pyanggang or chicken in blackened coconut curry is said to be the local delicacy. As a result, Mayor Burahan established Our Zen Chicken to promote trading of poultry.

bottom of page