Although geographically within the boundaries of Maguindanao, Cotabato City is politically independent from the province and is part of SOCCSKSARGEN region. It serves as the administrative center of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) where Maguindanao politically belongs. Last year, I had an enriching weekend trip in the city together with my travel blogger friends. It was a weekend of experiencing a different culture, learning new things, appreciating great architectures, and trying out new food. Here's a list of some of Cotabato City's tourist spots, attractions and things to do and experience in the city.
THINGS TO DO IN COTABATO CITY
1. Visit the Grand Old City Hall and City PlazaA century old structure featuring architectural design of the Maguindanaon Art, it is the former seat of the City govenment of Cotabato. Located along Alejandro Dorotheo St. across the City Plaza, it is now a Marines headqurters and soon to be developed it as a City Museum (as planned). It is one of the most elaborately designed government buildings I've seen. A landmark in the city, its magnificence shouldn't be missed.
2. Marvel at the Magnificent Grand MosqueAn Islamic architecture masterpiece, it is considered as the biggest mosque in the country. Funded by the King of Brunei, the newly built mosque believed to cost more that 200 million pesos to build and can accommodate up to a capacity of 1,200 worshipers. The grandeur of the Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah Masjid is truly breathtaking. Don't miss it when visiting Cotabato City.
3. Take a look at The People's Palace (New City Hall)Located in Malagapas, Barangay Rosary Heights 10, the new City Hall of Cotabato is called "The People's Palace". Opened in 2009, it sits on a 9-hectare lot with a well manicured lawn in front of the structure. The whitewashed palace features Neo-classical and Moro architecture. It is one majestic structure!
4. Cross Tamontaka BridgeThis bridge connects Cotabatao City with the municipality of Datu Odin Sinsuat in Maguindanao province. The bridge provides a very nice view of Tamontaka River, part of Rio Grande de Mindanao, the second largest river system in the country.
5. Try Local DelicaciesLook for the streeside eateries and barbeque stands along the streets near the City Plaza and experience the local flavors of Cotabato City. Have a taste of the pastil (one of the most popular Maguindanaon delicacies) and other local delicacies such as beef rendang, kumukunsi and beef sinina.
6. Buy Souvenirs and PasalubongTrading is very much alive in Cotabato City. By just walking around, especially near the old city hall, you'll find stores selling different products. Bring home some souvenirs of hand-crafted Maranao products, malong, batiks, inaul fabrics and brasswares, among many others.
Though, I wasn't able to visit these places, here are some of the other things to do in Cotabato City:
7. Visit Tamontaka ChurchFounded in 1872, it is the center of the first Christian settlement in Cotabato City.
8. Go Caving at Kuta Wato CaveThe cave where the city got its name, touted as the only cave in the country found in the middle of a city. There are many access points to the cave, the most recommended is the one in Barangay Bagua.
9. Climb Pedro Colina HillHere, visitors could enjoy a panoramic view of the city, its surrounding areas, and the Mindanao River (Rio Grande de Mindanao).
10. Visit the Metal and Brass-making CommunityLocated in Barangay Kalangalan, have a glimpse of how brasswares like gongs, urns and other metal products are crafted in traditional method.
Other tourist spots and attractions in Cotabato City:
Regional Autonomous Government Center, Barter Trade Center along Governor Guttierez Street, Sultan Kudarat Monument, Takumi Butai Memorial Shrine, Tantawan Park, Timaco Hill and Bongo Island.
My trip to Cotabato City happened in July 7-8, 2013. It was just a weekend trip and there are still a lot of places to visit and things to do in Cotabato City that I missed. I will definitely go back!
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