When it come to tourist destinations, Cotabato City is off the radar and not on everyone's usual list. One of the main protagonist is the peace situation in the area where conflicts between the government and armed lefties are always on the news. I could not really say that it was all media hype because I experienced to have heard several gun shots when I was there. In fact, there was an incident in the street corner of the hotel where I stayed where an alleged criminal was gunned-down by the police. Plus, military presence in almost every corner of the City would tell you that this is not your typical place... so wander with caution!
On that note, overcome fear and Cotabato City is there for you to explore. Get out of your comfort zone, walk around the City during daytime or hop along in habal-habal and check out the following places:
|Sultan Kudarat Monument|
Located in Tantawan Park at PC Hill is the monument of Sultan Kudarat. Sultan Dipatuan Kudarat is the seventh sultan of Maguindanao and known by the Spaniards as Corralat. He lead from 1619 to 1671 and was known for unifying Muslim leaders and joined the Sultan of Sulu in fighting the Spaniards. He is recognized as fearless protector of Islam faith.
Tamontaka Church is Cotabato's oldest church, of Spanish architecture and design, and was built by the Jesuits. This is where the old settlement was built in 1872. During the 1976 earthquake, a portion of the church collapsed but the Oblate Fathers restored the ruin parts following the original design.
|New City Hall|
The New City Hall is a majestic structure located at Malagapas, Barangay Rosary Heights 10, combining ethno-modern architectural with Muslim-inspired roof symbolizing its royalty. The entire bureaucracy of the Executive Department are now housed under one roof.
|Rizal Plaza in front of the Old Provincial Capitol|
The Old Provincial Capitol is designed from early American architecture and was the seat of then Empire Province of Cotabato. In front of it is the modest Rizal Monument. The Center is now used as temporary military detachment because all government offices that used to be there has transferred to the New City hall. It was surrounded by tiangge and baratilyo when I went there.
|ARMM Government Building|
The ARMM Government Center houses almost all regional offices of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao and has a unique blend of modern and muslim architecture. Within the complex, a guest can visit the regional library, museum and on season can witness cultural spectacles at the Shariff Kabunsuan Cultural Center.
ARMM Logo sits prominently in the main building's facade. The seal features the handle of the kris, slightly drawn symbolizing authority used by the major tribes in the area and a crescent that symbolizes the predominance of its Muslim populace.
|ARMM Compound Garden|
After too much walking and wandering, one could just take a breather from its colorful gardens and parks that envelope the entire compound.
|Kutawato Cave Marker|
Kutawato Caves are the only caves in the country that is right in the heart of the city. It’s various entrances; all within traffic is a rarity that can only be had in Cotabato City. These caves were also the source of the city’s present name for “kuta” means fort and “wato” means stone hence the name fort of stone, which later became Cotabato. Too bad, some of the entrances were not properly maintained that some use the cave to dump their trash and worst, their own comfort rooms.
|Colorful Malong at the Barter Trade Center|
I havee been to other barter trade centers and this is just a simple one compared to the others. One can walk to this area from the highway or main road leading to the ARMM Government Center. They sell the usual stuff like garments, hats, scarves and household utensils. Be sure to ask for discount.
|Takumi Butai Commemorative Marker|
The Takumi Butai Memorial Shrine was built in memory of Takumi and the Japanese soldiers who died here during WWII. Takumi was the Provincial Commander of the Japanese forces assigned in Cotabato City. Before he died, he requested that some of his ashes be buried in Cotabato City. The shrine was put up by the Lion's Club of Kyoto, Japan in cooperation with the city government of Cotabato. Most habal-habal drivers of Cotabato do not know this monument so you better say it is located in San Sebastian Compound.
|Kalentoba, Pistil and Cotabato Delectables|
Experiencing another culture doesn't mean bringing your own supply of cup noodles. Taste everything you see especially if it looks interesting. Try their native Pistil and Kalentobo, very cheap but filling. At the end of the day, even if you do not like it, it will make for an interesting story.
Finally, here are some cheap accommodations worth staying at:
111 Quezon Avenue, El Manuel Drive
Tel Nos. (064) 421-9883 / 421-5552
Single room is Php 950 per night
Grand Rio Hotel
80 Don Rufino Alonzo Ave.
Tel No. (064) 421-8770 / 09196555167
Single room is Php 600 per night
Corner Makakua and Jose Lim St.
Tel No. (064) 421-5118
Single room is Php 600 per night
Citi Plaza Hotel
Tel No (064) 421-9148
Single room is Php 750 De Luxe
128-I-A Sinsuat Avenue, Rizal Street
Tel No (064) 421-8122 / 421-9088 / 09177260282
Single room ranges from Php 550 to Php 660
Sultan Makakua Street
Tel No (064) 421 3583
Single room is Php 500
Cotabato City's premiere attarction - The Grand Mosque on my next post.