Province of Tawi-Tawi can trace its origins back to at least 1,000 years ago when the sea fearing ancestors of today’s Sama, Jama Mapun, and Badjao found their way to the islands from as far as the Ind.-Malay peninsula and the mainland of Asia.

Then there were the Tausugs who came to Tawi-Tawi from Sulu as well as the agriculture-oriented Taguimaha and Subanon who also settled in the islands.

Tawi-Tawi derives its name from the Malay word “jau” – meaning “far”. Native using the word in conversation repeatedly ended up with “jaui-jaui”. This later evolved into “Tawi-Tawi” and became the province’s name.

Tawi-Tawi and the Sulu Archipelago were centers of cultural and economic interaction with the civilizations of Brunie, Indonesia, Malaysia, and even Burma, Laos, Vietnam, India, and Pakistan at that time, something that the Spaniards discovered when they came into the 15th century.

Two milestones in Philippines history are recorded in Tawi-Tawi and Sulu:  the coming of Islam to Simunul, Tawi-Tawi and to Sulu in the 13th century and the birth of the Sultanate of Sulu in a time seen as the golden era of the Philippine south.

From 1465 to 1898, Tawi-Tawi was a domain of the Sultanate of Sulu.  It had seven principalities (Sibutu and Sitankai, Bongao, Dungon now named Panglima Sugala, Simunul, Sapa-Sapa and Tandubas, Languyan, and Ubian/Tabawan).  During the American era, Tawi-Tawi was a district of Sulu under what was known as the Moro province.

Tawi-Tawi renamed as a political component of Sulu Province during the Commonwealth years (until 1935), the period before and at the time of Philippine independence (1946), up to the time when then President Ferdinand E. Marcos declared martial law in 1972.

In 1973, Marcos issued Presidential Decree 302, creating Tawi-Tawi as a province and finally separating it from Sulu at the time when the government was coping with insurgency of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) in the South.

Tawi-Tawi has become a component of the autonomous government in the South – the first in 1979 following the initial peace agreement with the MNLF and then in 1989, when it voted to be part of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) following the 1987 peace agreement between the government and the MNLF, again.