The Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) is the only region in the Philippines with its own government. Its provinces include Basilan (except Isabela City), Lanao del Sur, Maguindanao, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi. Its capital is at Cotabato, despite the province not being within its jurisdiction.
The culture of ARMM is distinct from most other parts of the predominantly Catholic country. Beautiful traditional wear adorns many locals of ARMM. The women wear the malong, a colorful, often intricately designed cloth that is usually wrapped around the body. Maranao and Maguindanao women wear the malong over the arbita, a kind of blouse. There are also many kinds of headgear in Moro culture, such as the kombong, a turban made of muslin fabric, the tobao, worn by men in Maguindanao and Maranao, and the kopiya. A white cap called the kadi is worn by men who have gone on a pilgrimage to Mecca, the birthplace of the Islamic religion.
Its five provinces are teeming with natural wonders. Adding to the country’s reputation as a tropical getaway, there are several beaches in this region, especially in Tawi-Tawi and Basilan. The other provinces are not to be undone, though—there is also Punta Beach (Maguindanao), Mabul Beach (Lanao Del Sur) and Sulu’s white-sand beaches. There are also numerous waterfalls, lakes and rivers.
ARMM is rife with outdoor activities, such as scuba diving (Bogo Diving Spot in Maguindanao, Bangas Island in Sulu, Gusong Reef in Tawi-Tawi) mountain climbing (Mount Datu in Sulu, Bongao Peak, in Tawi-Tawi) and spelunking (Bolobok Cave in Tawi-Tawi). In Tawi-Tawi, especially at the Turtle Islands, environmentally-inclined tourists go on turtle walks.
There are also notable historical and religious areas. Several tombs and shrines have been built for revered Moro leaders (e.g. the tombs of Sultan Kudarat and Datu Mastura in Maguindanao, Kalun’s Park/Shrine built for Datu Kalun in Basilan). ARMM also has mosques (like the Sheik Makhdum in Tawi-Tawi), areas of prayer for those who subscribe to Islam as a religion. Non-religious landmarks include the tomb of Jose Abad Santos (a Philippine WWII hero) in Lanao Del Sur, as well as the smallest walled city in the world (located in the town of Jolo, Sulu).
Moro food can be sampled throughout ARMM. There are unique dishes from all over the region. There is pizinena, goat meat fried in coconut oil and spices; tiyula sug, beef cooked in water with roasted coconut and herbs; kiyoning or yellow rice with coconut and turmeric.
Local desserts include tiyateg (that looks like shredded wheat, made of rice flour, coconut oil and brown sugar) and doldol, pudding made of coconut milk, rice flour and brown sugar.