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Cotabato: Weaving a Tapestry of Nature and Tradition

The province of Cotabato is as colorful as its tapestries and as breathtaking as its landscapes.

The name Cotabato comes from the Maguindanaon word “Kuta Wato” or “Stone Fort”, which reflects the long tradition of courage and resistance of this province in the basin of Pulangi River.

The seventeen municipalities in Cotabato have their own distinctive stories and characteristics — from mountains and lakes, to cultural villages.

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Tourists, especially mountaineers, go to the province of Cotabato for Mt. Apo. It is the country’s highest mountain, standing at almost 10,000 ft. It’s every Filipino hiker’s dream to reach its peak. 

If you’re a nature-lover, this province is a sure treat for you. Aside from Mt. Apo in North Cotabato, there are also waterfalls and lakes here that are known for their natural beauty. 

Indangan Falls, also called Marbel Falls, is in Brgy. Indangan near the City of Kidapawan. Barangay Balagag also has the crystal-clear, 65 feet-long Mawig Falls that serves as Matingao River’s major water source. 

Posted by Kidapawan City Tourism Office on Monday, February 29, 2016

Experience thrills more than your usual as you visit the Paniqui Cave and Waterfalls. Take a dip in its crystal-clear waters, or even go spelunking and explore its natural cave formations.

(c) Francisco Japhet Moralde

Posted by Paniki Falls Eco-River Park on Tuesday, April 9, 2019

You can take your adventure further down the south of Cotabato and bask in the beauty of Lake Sebu.

Lake Sebu is described by Lonely Planet as a “bowl of forests and mountains”. It is actually comprised of three lakes: Lake Sebu, the largest; Lake Seloton, the second largest; and Lake Lahit, the smallest among the three. 

Its beauty and accessibility to other sites make it a go-to destination in the region.

EATS More fun in Cotabato

A trip is not fun without having to try the local cuisine. It reflects the flavorful history of a destination, and really, the best way to experience it is to just dive right in and taste it.

While we would want to create a sole post for the province’s local food scene, their pastil (boiled rice topped with shreds of meat and wrapped in banana leaf), beef rendang (spicy beef stew with coconut), and sinaglay (tilapia wrapped in cabbage and cooked with coconut milk) are some Cotabato staples that are must trys.

RELATED: Cotabato Infra Projects Pushing Through

A synergy of communities

Its scenic natural wonders also serve as a home to diverse local indigenous communities. The tribes of T’Boli and Ubo have long lived in the ancestral domains of Cotabato. 

A trip in the Philippines is not complete without immersing in the culture of the locals. Try it, and meet the people who do everything to preserve their home’s brilliance. 

Aside from natural wonders, Cotabato also offers cultural destinations such as the T’Boli Museum and the Grand Mosque of Cotabato City. Check out Al Jamela in Cotabato City as well, where you can see firsthand the weaving process of Maguindanao’s traditional hand-woven textile, inaul.

The star of Lake Sebu in Cotabato used to be Lang Dulay, who was a National Living Treasure Awardee. She was a T’Boli master Dreamweaver, and was renowned for her T’nalak cloth creations.

View this post on Instagram

Some cool facts about Lake Sebu part 2: 🔸LANG DULAY is one of the Philippine’s finest artists in the category of weaving and was awarded in 1998 as Gawad Manlilikha ng Bayan (GAMABA) by the National Commission for Culture and Arts. (She passed away last April 30, 2015 at the age of 91.) 🔸DREAMWEAVERS, is what the T'boli weavers are called. The Dreamweavers don’t follow self-invented patterns. Instead, they believe that the designs of the t’nalak they create are brought to them in their dreams by Fu Dalu, the spirit of the Abaca. They then bring these patterns to life by weaving solely from mental images and memory. 🔸KEMDOL, Lake Sebu in T'boli's term, means to move on or to go forward.

A post shared by Angeliii (@a_curious_adventurer) on

If you want a piece of Cotabato to take wherever you go, make sure to drop by the official trade and crafts stores in the province. Cotabato is known for the handcrafted fabrics of local indigenous tribes and its traditional way of brassware making.

There is a resurgence of sustainable tourism in the Philippines, but the community of Cotabato has long prioritized the preservation of their natural and cultural heritage.

While other provinces try to balance their indigenous culture with modernization, Cotabato embraces  its beauty and character, making it quite the breathtaking destination it is now.

Dumagi, kayog ta!

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