For love, Malaysian sails to Tawi-Tawi

TAWI-TAWI, Philippines - Here's a love story in the middle of the conflict between Malaysian authorities and Filipino followers of Sultan Jamalul Kiram III.

Carmela Fonbuena reports.

Ridwan Idris is Malaysian. He arrives in Tawi-Tawi via the Mid East Express, a fast craft vessel that carries mostly traders to and from Semporna in Sabah and Bongao in Tawi-Tawi. 

Waiting in Tawi-Tawi is Filipino Fatima Sulayman, his wife of 6 months. 


"Asawa ko siya. Galing siya Malaysia." 

Their love story started in Malaysia before the bloody standoff between Malaysian authorities and followers of Sultan Jamalul Kiram III.

They met in a restaurant where Fatima works. They got married October 2012. 

But they were separated when Fatima was arrested and deported.


"Nahuli ako sa bahay kasi wala akong passport."

But is Idris safe in Tawi-Tawi? Immigration officer Ibrahim Lim is confident he will be treated well.

IBRAHIM LIM, Immigration officer

"We are treating them well. It doesn't mean we are going to retaliate. We will treat them well."

Fatima and Idris plan to go back to Sabah as soon as the situation there improves. 


"Kung maayos din Sabah uwi din kami doon. Kukuha din ako passport."

But for now, it doesn't matter to them if they live in Sabah or Tawi-Tawi. As long as they are together. 

Carmela Fonbuena, Rappler, Tawi-Tawi. -