From Sinsuat Avenue, Cotabato City where the Husky Bus Terminal was located I rode a habal-habal or motorcycle to Barangay Kalangan II, Tamontaka Bubong Road where the grandest and biggest mosque is located. To know more about Masjid Sultan Haji Hassanal, visit this link.
Within the area of the Masjid Sultan Haji Hassanal mosque, you could also sight the Timako Hill an ideal place for camping and water sports and recreation. This hill faces the Bongo Island. There is also a cultural village at the foot of the hill which showcase the traditions and culture of the Maguindanaoan tribe.
After an Islam inspired religious site, I proceeded to Shariff Aguak - Cotabato City road for a Roman Catholic site named as Our Lady of Lourdes Grotto. It houses the Oblates of Mary Immaculate retreat house, replica grotto, creation center, chapel, missionary cemetery, station of the cross, a mini-zoo with monkeys, ostrich, Purple Heron, Brahminy Kite (Lawin), rabbits and civet cats.
Next to it, I met with a fellow SOCCSKSARGEN Blogger, Ian Villanueva the author of SharedCorner. Have a quick lunch at Sinsuat Avenue corner Notre Dame Avenue. Then we walked all the way up to Pedro Colina (PC) Hill, the most elevated part of Cotabato City where a panoramic view of the city awaits the tourist who will visit the Cotabato City Internal Defense Command office. In this hill also, you could find the one and only cave at the heart of the city. The cave has a small mini-pool in the entrance and a crevice which allows natural illumination. It was said to be also that this cave has a passage way to other caves within the city. At the foot of PC Hill, is the soon to be inaugurated Tantawan Park which has the statue of Sultan Kudarat and will be the display area of the OTOP (one-town-one-products). The name of the cave "KUTAWATO" comes from two words "KUTA" means FORT and "WATO" means STONE hence the name "Fort of Stone" became now the name of the City (Cotabato). The cave served as the hiding ground of the natives during the Spaniards regime and attacked of the Japanese empire.
Since I am used to walking and trekking, we proceeded with our day tour passing the Cotabato City Plaza and Old Cotabato City Hall, which is now a headquarters of the marines. You can see a number of government armed vehicles here such as the battle tanks (Tangke de Gera). The city hall structure was so out-of-date; it was my first time to see a very old architectural design for the house of governments. It's like I was in a Pre-Hispanic and Malay era.
The adventure does not stop there, from the old city hall we walked along Alejandro Dorotheo Street until we reached the Tabunaway Boulevard. Ian asked permission form the in-charge to take some picture of the Rio Grande de Mindanao. I was totally amazed of how wide the river was, I even wonder if there are crocodiles as big as Lolong living in that river. The river does not have quite a good view anymore because of the informal settlers residing on the other side of the river. I wonder how and where they throw their garbage’s and human waste. The place where we stood was also the Cotabato City Wharf which were used years ago as a passenger boat port when going to nearby provinces. Up to know, there are still some boats that dock here but only to load and unload huge amount of supplies. It was my first time also to see a water hyacinth that grows almost a half-meter to a meter in height. A very great effort then had been made by the local government by using the plants as materials for making bags, basket and other native products. This is also where the water sports activities during the Shariff Kabunsuan Festival and the annual Guinakit are held.
Too much happiness had filled my heart after setting foot in the second longest river in the Philippines. We continued our tour walking the left side of the Tabunaway Boulevard passing through the different vendors of Crabs, Prawns and Pigek. It was even my first time to see a king crab alive. To see more volume of crabs, visit Cotabato on Crab Festival and see for yourself the crab race, biggest crab and heaviest crab contest. In front to this Texing site, could be consider as one of the oldest road with very old design houses and still standing intact after how many decades.
Next to this food craving stopover, we rode a tricycle going to MB Kalanganan to meet with Muhammad Mang the Vice President of the Muslim Chamber and the son of the renowned brass maker in the city. According to Muhammad Mang this was already a passed skill from their ancestors and for more than a century they still continue to produce the finest brass in the country using the traditional method. The spot where the materials used for making brass are heated at a huge amount of fire and most probably they have no big problems in terms of having a boiled egg and hot water for their coffee. Some of the items, which I saw are the brass gongs, plates and jars. Truly an amazing work of art, this should be preserved, promoted and protected by the Natural Heritage Society for the future generations to come.
After this cultural heritage site, I decided to purchase my pasalubong at the Public market. I bought a kilo of the mild native coffee coming from Pikit, North Cotabato for Php 220.00. There are actually three flavors (left to right) ordinary, mild and strong. The taste of the coffee was great and next time I will certainly try their strong flavor for an added intense.
Lastly before heading back to the bus terminal, we dropped by at the new City hall commonly known to the locals as Peoples Palace. The palace has a grand entrance with covered pathway on both sides and a very well maintained center island. We notice also that their street lights are all powered by a solar energy and it was mentioned that in future years to come this will replace the old street lights of the city. A brilliant idea to promote green living in the city. The people’s palace houses the Cotabato City Hall on the right wing, city library on the center and other government offices on the left wing. The architectural design of the building was very intricate, it's just like you are shopping on a mall.
My unending thanks goes to Ian Villanueva for touring me around Cotabato City. I enjoyed every destination we went thru. Your a blessing in my travel. See you around in General Santos City. Thanks again for couch surfing Pinasbackpackers.
For those who would visit Cotabato City, check out this blog post for the list of Cotabato City Hotel, Lodges, Inn, Pension House, Lodging House, Transient House