I diligently packed my bag, cameras and diving gears the night before going to go to Isabela City, Basilan. My primary goal was to test my new SJ4000 action camera and write a review on its performance during my adventure. I prepared with a heavy heart knowing that I had to set aside my love affair with my mirorless camera who has become my trustworthy buddy. With a selfish goal in mind, I hopped into the fast craft going to Isabela without too much expectations. The boat ride was one for the books with waves hitting our vessel like crazy making it hop along with our hearts. A lot of prayers were said throughout the one hour journey but praise God when we safely docked with a dose of nausea.
A light drizzle and a gloomy sky welcomed us as we set foot in Isabela City. It was my first time to put my SJ4000wifi to the test and the weather was not cooperative. With too little time and a lot of photos to take, we immediately proceeded to a local beach resort near a military camp. Fuego Fuego Beach had an unassuming charm with its native cottages, huge boulders and clear waters. After consuming a hearty home-cooked meal, we were introduced to Barangay Captain Jimnu Hamad of Marang-marang Island who welcomed us with a smile into his boat. Things happened so fast and he escorted us to two floating cottages with a fish pen in the middle of the sea surrounded with lush mangrove forests. Fish in an assortment of vibrant colors can be easily seen below the floating cottages. I got my diving gear and jumped into the waters while my friends fed the fish with bread.
Seeing how ecstatic I was, the barangay captain offered to take me and my friends to a nearby reef. Without thinking twice, we went jumped to the boat. The water was reassuring and calm. The tide is high but the reef can easily be seen from our boat. With my diving gears, SJ4000wifi attached to my ches strap and our trusty boatman watching over us, Dawn and I dipped into the waters. Excitement filled me up when I saw different colored fishes in a garden of corals as I took videos with my action camera. I duck dived and reached a depth of five meters and I was pleasantly surprised that I can see the video being recorded on the 1.5 inch screen of my sj4000wifi. Sans the prejudice and it negative assumptions about Basilan, diving in its waters is a totally different experience. I was astounded with its serene beauty and calming splendor. More than thirty minutes of diving and I was ready to call it a day even if I only spent a few hours in Basilan but there’s still more.
A couple of kilometers away from our floating cottage lies the ruins of an old abandoned resort. Our boat could not get near the entrance so we decided to walk into the waters that reached our waists. The waves rolled towards the entrance of the resort and splashing though its concrete fence and stair case. Only a few pillars engraved with intricate okir accents remains. I can imagine that it used to be grand during its heyday.
A few steps from the ruins is a non-functional lighthouse. Surrounded by periwinkle-colored wild flowers, the towering white light house looked appealing. Getting to the top is a bit challenging with the narrow spiral concrete steps while my sjcam4000 hanged securely on my wrist. The view is breathtaking. On one side you can see the thriving greenery of the island and sapphire waters on the other which the sj4000wifi captured beautifully. And our first day in Basilan ended on a high, atop a light house. As soon as we got back to Fuego Fuego Beach, Councilor Maria Jennesa Tubongbanua asked us how our day went and we had so many good things to say.
Basilan may be a challenging destination amidst all the negative media propaganda that we hear. But as long as you coordinate properly with the locals who can assure you of your safety, everything will be worth it. We just need to look at Basilan with another lens sans our own prejudice. You don’t need a lot of courage to get there, you just need an open mind.
The SJ4000wifi is the company’s entry level offering with the cheapest and most affordable price point. Honestly, I did not expect much from this unit considering that its price is a far cry from the premium cameras on the market but I was pleasantly surprised with its performance. The camera did well with the photos considering that it was gloomy during our trip. The photos translates closely what the eyes can see. It neither oversaturates images nor does it brightens the images to delusional proportions. The videos are also vivid and sharp with a slight increase in saturation of blue and green hues. Like all action cameras, the SJ4000wifi comes with a waterproof casing and wifi transfer features. The batteries can also last from 2-3 hours which is a standard for action cams having 900mAh capacity. Overall, the SJ4000wifi is a great deal for your money. It is user-friendly even for action camera newbies like me. For those adventure seekers who wants to have an action camera but are on a tight budget, the SJ4000wifi is already a good value for your money. A unit with batteries and accessories will only cost you 3,650 pesos from @sjcam_ph. You may contact Norman Gagarin and Gil Ruelos for your orders.
I would like to thank Vice Mayor Cherry Akbar, Councilor Maria Jennesa Tubongbanua and their very accommodating staff for their efforts in making this trip possible. Dawn Arancon, Zamboanga’s Yoga Master, thank you very much for the logistical support.